Todd W. Vanderah
Todd W. Vanderah

One of the most controversial issues facing Arizona voters on Nov. 8 is the citizen initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. If passed, Arizona would become the fifth state in the nation to allow all adults to possess and use pot.

Todd Vanderah, professor and chair of the  Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, University of Arizona, will discuss the “pluses and minuses” of marijuana at 3:30 p.m. Monday (Oct. 10) in the Arizona Senior Academy Great Room.

On the one hand, Dr. Vanderah will discuss the growing body of research—including his own—showing the medical potential of cannabinoids (the active ingredients in marijuana) in treating a wide range of illnesses including osteoporosis, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer.

He will explain new medical research on the use of non-psychotropic cannabinoids (that do not produce the euphoria or psychotropic effects).

On the other hand, Vanderah will bring statistics on uses of marijuana related deaths, tests on addiction profiles and the most obvious side effect of pot use: Altered cognitive function. Like alcohol and many prescription drugs, he said, recreational marijuana “should come with recommendations of not operating cars/machines/etc. that could harm oneself or others.”

Part of the reason marijuana remains illegal at the federal level is because it is classified as a Schedule I drug. A Schedule I drug, as defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is a substance that has a high potential of being abused by its users and has no acceptable medical uses.

“We are only at the beginning of our knowledge on cannabinoids,” Vanderah said. “Many studies on the chemicals from these marijuana plants have been prohibited to some extent by the Federal government. There are exciting studies (including my own studies) that show that cannabinoids can significantly slow cancer progression, decrease bone loss and significantly decrease seizures.”

Written by Mike Maharry, Academy Village Volunteer


A Scientist Looks at AZ’s Marijuana Initiative:Oct.2016