Subject: Could medical cannabis be the new THALIDOMIDE?

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Could medical cannabis be the new THALIDOMIDE? Fears of a crisis as doctors consider doling marijuana-based medicines out to pregnant mothers despite evidence the drug can damage fetuses.

GUY ADAMS FOR THE DAILY MAIL PUBLISHED: 10:31 AEDT, 24 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:36 AEDT, 24 November 2018

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) recently published an article arguing that the widespread use of medical cannabis could eventually lead to a public health crisis bearing comparison with the thalidomide disaster.

William McBride: alerted the world to the dangers of thalidomide in fetal development

Ned Stafford

BMJ 2018; 362: k3415 (Published 06 Aug 2018)

...thalidomide during pregnancy.1 He concluded his letter by asking: Have any of your readers seen similar abnormalities in babies delivered of women who have taken this drug during pregnancy?The letter, thought to be the first published suggestion from a doctor of teratogenicity of thalidomide in humans ~~~

Kind Regards

Herschel Baker
International Liaison Director,
Drug Free Australia 

PO Box 379
Seaford, SA 5169

Don't Promote Drug Use.

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BRIEF for Australians

Our Vision: To support and educate young people, their families and communities to prevent the damage caused by drugs


Why test pills when it is the ecstasy that kills?

The accelerating number of Australian deaths from ecstasy are, according to the medical literature, mostly NOT from overdosing on MDMA, nor, according to coroners’ reports, are they due to impurities in party pills but rather from individual reactions to MDMA.

While drug legalisation/decriminalisation activists attempt to build the myth that normal amounts of MDMA are not life-threatening, just the opposite is the truth.  According to our own Australian coroners’ reports our ecstasy deaths are mostly not due to unknown impurities but due to MDMA either by itself or in combination with other drugs  Nor is there a medical literature which supports frequent deaths due to ‘overdosing’ on MDMA.  This fact is even recognised by the Soros-funded drug legalisation organisation, the Drug Policy Alliance and other drug legalisation activist organisations overseas  It begs the question of why Australian activists are seeking to promote a myth that their own overseas allies do not. 

Medical literature (see paragraph before Figure 1) records ecstasy users boasting MDMA blood levels more than 70 times the lowest levels associated with ecstasy deaths, and 4 times higher than the higher levels more typically found in ecstasy deaths.  Even a Four Corners program which advocated for pill testing told of one user celebrating his 22nd birthday by taking 22 ecstasy tablets.  Many deaths are from taking a single pill, and can be described as more akin to an idiosyncratic individual allergic reaction to MDMA, making first-time ecstasy use more akin to playing Russian roulette  A group of friends can all ingest the same amount but only one might die  This was precisely the case with Anna Wood, who took the same amount as her friends, but only she died.   

Whether a tablet is 5% or 60% MDMA is much less important than what other drugs are being taken with it and what idiosyncratic physiological reaction an individual user will have to it.  Rather than pill testing machines at the doors of RAVE concerts, heart and DNA testing machines might be more relevant, but even then, medicos are not entirely sure of all they should be physiologically testing for.  If pill testing is pursued with government auspice the inevitable result will be more people willing to use the substance on the false assumption that they are now safe.  With an increased population of users there will inevitably be more deaths.

According to the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey of around 25,000 Australians, most Australians (97%) do not approve the regular use of ecstasy. 

Drug Free Australia believes that the link below shows an informed political response to calls for pill testing.

Gary Christian­­­­­


Drug Free Australia

0422 163 141

Also contact: Tony Wood  0404 407 477

Note: Three deaths in Melbourne in January 2017 were due to other drugs 4-FA and 25C-NBOMe in ecstasy pills, but Victorian Police said that normal pill testing would not have helped.



The Columbia University Grant provided to evaluate Australian Dr George O'Neil. Addiction Medicine Specialist Medical Director. M.B.B.S., F.A.Ch.A.M., F.R.A.N.Z.C.O.G., F.R.O.C.O.G., D.D.U., Cit.W.A. Long Acting Naltrexone Implant.

Funding of USD$ 3,010,138 has been provided by NIDA to Columbia University for the first year to conduct a pilot PK human study and an animal local reaction, toxicity study.  

The ‘War on Weed’
(the Advertiser, 2 July) will help thousands of South Australian families, because
it sends a current and accurate message that marijuana is far more harmful than
in the past. Some people are unaware of just how much the drug has changed in
30 years.  

Drug Free
Australia is part of some cutting-edge global research that is revealing very
concerning findings about the harms of cannabis use. Here are some facts to


Much stronger
forms of marijuana are now pushed in our communities, according to many reliable sources including NIDA. If used during pregnancy, cannabis can hinder the foetal pre-natal brain formation, similar to alcohol use, which can cause foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). This can have long term effects as it ‘sets in stone’, the errors of brain structure to impact on brain development and function at adolescent stages.

Please note that most cannabis online for example Kosher Kush THC 26.8%, 501 ST OG THC 25. 9%, INGRID THC 26.3%, 530 Grower Crème Brulee THC 26.7%, and Australian SKUNK Hybrids have THC levels 30% and above. 

In developing
babies, constriction of their arteries can lead to serious side effects such as
gastroschisis - a birth defect in which the baby's intestines extend outside of
the body through a hole next to the navel. In
Australia, Canada, North Carolina, Colorado, Mexico and New Zealand,
gastroschisis (and sometimes other major congenital defects) cluster where
cannabis use is highest. 


Cannabis can
damage arteries. In adults this causes heart attack (500% elevation in the
first hour after smoking), stroke, severe cardiac arrhythmias including sudden
cardiac death.  


Mental health disorders
such as anxiety, paranoia and psychosis are now well recognised side-effects of
marijuana use.

It is a known
‘gateway’ to other drugs including Ice: for example a JAMA study (2016) shows
significant associations with marijuana use included increased risk of alcohol
use disorders, nicotine dependence and other drug use disorders. Too many South
Australians report that marijuana led to their family member’s ice use. 


Cannabis causes
12 cancers and has been identified as a carcinogen by the California
Environmental Protection agency (2009).  This makes it also a
mutagen.   Four these cancers are inheritable to children. 


The ‘War on Weed’
is a tough, courageous and fair stand by Ms Chapman. It targets traffickers and
those who manufacture, with prison sentences; it also gives users at least two
chances to bypass the criminal justice system so that they can be educated and
rehabilitated in the harms of marijuana.  


Perhaps it might
be more appropriately termed: ‘A Defence of the Brain’. Our next generation
will thank us for supporting the initiative. 

Jo Baxter
Executive Director
Drug Free Australia
PO Box 379
Seaford, SA 5169

Don't Promote Drug Use

Our Vision: To support and educate young people, their families and communities to prevent the damage caused by drugs


Removing Federal Restrictions on Cannabis? Australians Want Less Drugs, Not More

Almost all Australians, according to the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey of 25,000 Australians,  do NOT give approval to the use of the illicit drugs heroin (99%), cocaine (98%), speed/ice (99%), ecstasy (97%) and cannabis (86%).[i]  It is safe to conclude from these statistics that Australians do not want increasing drug use, but less drug use.

Cannabis legalisation in the United States has increased drug use as well as social harms. 

Colorado and Washington legalised cannabis in 2013.  Comparing the two year average 2013/14[ii] with the pre-legalisation 2011/12, Colorado’s cannabis use was as follows:

Adult use increased by 63% in the first year after legalisation against increases of 21% nationally.  In 2013/14 Colorado adults ranked #1 for cannabis use in the United States, up from #7 in 2011/12 and from #8 in 2005/6.

College-age use (ages 8-25) rose by 17% against increases of 2% nationally, within the first year of legalised cannabis use. In 2013/14 Colorado college-age students ranked #1 for cannabis use in the United States, up from #3 in 2011/12 and from #8 in 2005/6.

Adolescent use rose by 20% against decreases in other states of 4%, despite use of cannabis being illegal for all under the age of 21.  In 2013/14 Colorado youth ranked #1 for cannabis use in the United States, up from #4 in 2011/12 and from #14 in 2005/6. In school year 2015/2016, 62 percent of all drug expulsions and suspensions were for marijuana violations.

Other social harms were:

Road fatalities related to cannabis use rose by 62% by 2015, from 71 to 115 persons since 2013 when recreational cannabis use was legalised.[iii]

Hospitalisations likely related to cannabis increased 32% in the two year average (2013-14) since Colorado legalised recreational marijuana compared to the two-year average prior to legalisation (2011-2012).[iv]

Governor Hickenlooper last year introduced House Bill 1220 and 1221 to address the 380% rise in arrests for black market grows between 2014 and 2016.[v],[vi]

Cannabis legalisation has led to more drugs, not less drugs.  Adult cannabis users in a state with medical cannabis laws in 2010 already stood at around 400,000.[vii]  Under legalisation that had increased by an additional 200,000 by 2015.  That is 200,000 more opened to increased risks of psychosis, depression, suicide, drugged driving, altered brain function and death from pulmonary and cardio-vascular conditions.[viii]

Gary Christian


Drug Free Australia


[i] See Table 9.7

[ii]  see also “2011-2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Model-Based Prevalence Estimates (50 States and the District of Columbia)” and graphs of stats at


P 16


P 78



[vii] Calculated from 8.86% of Colorado’s population in 2010 vs 12.45% of its increased population in 2014


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