Dr. Donald Abrams Compares Smoked & Vaporized Cannabis

Physician Story – Dr. Donald Abrams

Donald Abrams, M.D. explains why smoked plant matter has properties that help the body heal, as does vaporized (non-combusted plant matter). The operative word is plant, not the pill (form of THC). Dr. Donald Abrams is the Chief of Hematology-Oncology at San Francisco General Hospital, as well as Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Transcript:  After we demonstrated that cannabis had a medicinal use we knew people were against smoking a medicine. My colleagues say,

“Donald, nobody smokes fox glove we have digitalis you know, using a whole plant as medicine is sort of archaic.”

Well actually my interest in cannabis, that also got me interested in integrated medicine, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine where many treatments that are used are herbal concoctions or de-concoctions where the whole plant is used. In Chinese medicine extracting the active component and using that as a drug would be sort of unheard of because it removes it from the yin and the yang, the balance , provided by nature when the medicine was given as a plant.

So we knew that we could demonstrate smoking cannabis was effective till we were blue in the face and nobody was going say that it should be approved because of the delivery system. So the institute of medicine report in 1999 suggested that people seek other rapid onset delivery system for delivering cannabis as a medicine. So we did a clinical trial looking at a vaporizer and comparing the levels of cannabinoids that developed in the blood stream after smoking a cannabis cigarette verses vaporizing the same cigarette.

We did this in healthy marijuana smoking volunteers aged 25 40. It was the fastest clinical trial I had ever done because we had people lined up, very easy to enroll. What we proved was that the levels of cannabinoids in the blood stream were equivalent whether it was smoked or vaporized. That there was much less exposure to noxious gasses, when it was vaporized as measured by expired carbon monoxide. That the high was graded as equal and the patients actually had a preference for vaporization.

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