Big Pharma Gets Stoned

Dear Readers,

I finished writing this story about Mary Jane on November 1, 2007.  Now that I have this blog and the pictures to go with my story, I am publishing it here for your enjoyment and education.

Lots of Love, Marie


Big Pharma Gets Stoned

Mary Jane helping to reduce the opioid crisis

Michael and Mary were exhausted from a long week of work, but they had to get groceries.  At least the weekend had finally arrived, and they had a little free time.  They had both worked until well past midnight, which was becoming a habit, even on Friday nights.  After only a few hours of sleep, they were too tired to make plans for the weekend beyond the mundane task of grocery shopping.  Besides, grocery shopping was the immediate priority since there was only a small window of time in which to get it done.  The stores closed early on Saturday and were not open at all on Sunday.  If they didn’t buy food now, they would either have to spend a fortune eating out all weekend, provided they could get reservations, or they would go hungry.  Once they had their groceries, they would be free to focus on having some fun.  Every day was an adventure for them anyway, whether they had plans or not, because they were strangers in a strange place.  Who knew what would happen today. 


They gathered up their shopping bags and headed out of the apartment they rented in an old but recently renovated row house built of stone.  Three flights of a wooden staircase took them past their landlords’ apartment and into the entryway where a huge chandelier hung from the high ceiling.  There was only one other apartment in the house and it was the largest one, occupying the top two floors above Michael and Mary.  It had recently been rented to a couple of doctors doing their residencies at nearby hospitals. 

Michael opened the massive wooden front door and they let themselves out onto the street.  They didn’t have a car, so the only decision was whether to walk into town or take the crowded tram.  It was chilly and humid, and the sky was overcast, as usual.  But it wasn’t raining, so they decided to walk.  After all, it was only a couple of miles across the bridge stretching over the mighty river and down the ancient, narrow, cobblestone streets into the crowded center of town where shopping opportunities abounded.

Michael was clean-cut now that he was a professional.  When he met Mary in graduate school, though, his brown hair was almost as long and wavy as her thick, blonde hair.  Mary loved Michael’s long hair, although she knew he would have to cut it someday.  And that day had come.  Of course, Mary wasn’t expected to cut her hair, even though she had a real job now, too.  It would still have fallen below her shoulders if it weren’t tied back in a ponytail.  While it didn’t seem fair that she could have long hair and Michael couldn’t, the fact was that appearances mattered, and Michael never would have gotten the job with long hair.  Besides, he was handsome whether his hair was short or long, with his straight strong nose, strong chin, and rugged brows.  And he was physically fit, too, especially since he went running every morning while Mary did yoga.  She hated running and couldn’t keep up with Michael anyway.  Even now, Mary could barely maintain Michael’s pace as they weaved their way through the crowded streets. 

Back home in the U.S., Michael and Mary were both taller than average.  In fact, Mary was taller than the average American man.  Nevertheless, Michael was taller than Mary, even when she wore heals, and she liked that.  Here, on the other hand, they both fit right in, at least height-wise.  Walking along side by side, they looked like they belonged together.  And they did.  The instant they met, they realized they would never part.  And all the years and all the stress they had been through had solidified that premonition.  It just worked between them, without effort or compromise.  Fundamentally, they saw things the same way.  And they never fought.  It wasn’t that they didn’t disagree, but they could reach an agreement.  Their compatibility was so extraordinary that other people seemed to sense it, too.  Heads always turned in their presence, and a lot of the looks they got suggested more than simple admiration of their handsomeness.  There were looks of curiosity, disbelief, and sometimes recognition, it appeared, of the bond between them.


But people were really staring at them today.  Well, no wonder, Mary realized.  It was obvious they were foreigners because they were dressed in blue jeans, white tennis shoes, and brightly colored shirts and jackets.  All the locals wore dark clothes, particularly black clothes.  Yet despite the overall monotone appearance, the local fashion was stylish, cosmopolitan, and sexy.  The women looked long and sleek in tight-fitting black polyester pants with flared bottoms and heels.  The men were suave in black jeans with black leather belts and jackets and square-toed black leather shoes.  And the eyeglasses people wore were very cool and modern looking.   Mary was suddenly conscious of the fact that people thought they were tourists. 

“Michael, we should buy new clothes so that we blend in,” she said.

“And so it’s easier to do laundry,” he replied.  “All darks.”

“Oh, yeah, that explains all the dark clothes!” exclaimed Mary.  Almost everyone had to use shared washers and dryers in the basement of their apartment building.  And use of the shared facilities was often quite restricted.  Some people only got a couple of hours on one day every two weeks to do laundry!  Michael and Mary were lucky since they could use the washer and dryer in their house every Tuesday and Wednesday between the hours of 7 am and 10 pm sharp.  It was still a hassle, though, after having had their own washer and dryer that they could use whenever they wanted, even as graduate students.

“Are you going to dye your hair red, too?” Michael teased Mary.  Most of the women did have red hair, obviously dyed.  There was a variation of the color for everyone it seemed.  They had never seen so many different shades of red. 

Mary looked at him and rolled her eyes.  “You’re really funny.” 

Michael knew that Mary would never dye her hair.  And he was glad, not just because regular use of toxic hair coloring could cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but also because he loved her natural beauty, her sparkling blue eyes, high cheekbones, cute nose, perfect mouth, and perfect skin.

They cut through an alley that also served as a makeshift parking lot nestled between rows of tall, long-standing buildings with shops on the ground levels and apartments on the upper levels.  There was a passageway going from the alley through a row of buildings and out onto another street.  They paused at the entrance of the passageway.  It looked uninviting, like a tunnel that was dark except for a small amount of light coming through windows of the shops that lined either side.  As they were standing there, debating about which way to go, Michael glanced through the window of the store they were standing next to. 

“Greenland.  Is that…?”


 She followed his gaze but couldn’t believe her eyes.  “No way!  It can’t be.”             

“Let’s go in and check it out.”

 “I don’t know.  Maybe it’s some sort of a trap…,” she started to say.  But it was too late.  Michael had pulled open the glass door and was already half way inside.  So, she followed him, leery as could be.  At least she didn’t see anyone else in the store. 

 A few more feet and they were standing in front of a glass case that made up a counter.  Inside the case were displayed what looked like, but couldn’t possibly be, enormous buds of marijuana.  There were all different varieties, each one labeled with its name.  There was B-52, Strawberry, Kamikaze, Hawaiian Purple, Maui Wowie, Blue Sky, Sleeper, Morning Glory, Super Silver Haze, NYC Diesel, Hysteria, and Super Kali Mist.  Some of the buds were all green.  Others were green with red or purple hairs.  Still others appeared to be lined with silver or gold.  Could there really be marijuana for sale in a country where hydrogen peroxide was a regulated substance?  The buds looked real, they certainly smelled real, and there were glass water pipes and other paraphernalia in additional glass cases on either side of the one containing the buds.  Mary threw her head back in disbelief.  What she saw then made her nudge Michael hard to get him to look, too.

Above the counter on the slanted ceiling was a large poster with a picture of a strong and weathered-looking man.  He had a big smile on his face even though one of arms was in a meat grinder, chewed up almost to the elbow.  The bloody meat and bone mess was dripping down and collecting on a plate beneath the blades.  Michael and Mary were frozen in horror and shock.   

Then suddenly the same man from the poster appeared behind the counter, in the flesh.  And sure enough, his right arm ended prematurely with a scarred stump in lieu of a forearm and hand.  The enormous grin on his face showed how absolutely delighted he was that his poster had produced the desired effect. 

No doubt he was a Vietnam Veteran.  And though his sense of humor was a bit tilted, thought Mary, it was admirable nevertheless.  If you had to live without your right hand, you might as well have some fun with it, whatever your idea of fun may be.  Maybe he’s just smoked too much of the stuff he’s selling.

The Vet leaned over the glass counter.  “What’s your pleasure?” he asked them.  “Do you want to go to sleep or stay awake?  You want to laugh or feel calm and relaxed?  You want something strong or mellow?”


“What’s good?” asked Michael.

“Depends on what you’re looking for,” the Vet replied.

Apparently, the different varieties had different effects.  Interesting.  But seriously, they were not going to buy drugs like some derelicts, Mary was thinking.  After all, they were scientists.  And they were developing ethical drugs, just like the noble pharmaceutical scientists in those inspiring TV commercials, dedicating their lives to finding a cure and making a significant improvement in the health and quality of life of a lot of people suffering from some terrible disease.  That’s why they were living here in Switzerland, to work at one of the world’s largest and richest pharmaceutical companies.  In fact, Mary’s goal was to discover a drug that had the opposite effect of tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

But Michael, who had a strong business sense in addition to his scientific aptitude, was already talking price.  It was 40 Swiss francs for an ounce, which was about 30 U.S. dollars.  That didn’t seem very expensive – less than going out for a movie or a couple of cocktails.     

Michael turned to look at Mary, hoping for a signal to proceed, or at least not a look that definitely said “no.”  She was tempted.  Her curiosity was overruling her conservativeness.  They were scientists, after all, with open eyes and open minds, always searching for new knowledge and experiences, and always willing to give up old ideas in light of new information. 

Michael knew exactly what her hesitant, half frown, half smile meant.  So, he picked out several different varieties of buds along with some rolling papers and started reaching for his cash while she just stood there quietly by his side. 

“Just need to see your I.D. please,” said the Vet.

Michael chuckled a little nervously.  “Oh, sure,” he said, “here you go.”

The Vet glanced at Michael’s identification card and seemed satisfied.  He returned the card, took the money, and handed Michael several ounces of marijuana.  And that was all there was to it.  They had made their first recreational drug purchase in a seemingly legal manner.  They thanked the Vet and hurriedly left Greenland with their variety pack before one of their colleagues saw them there.   


They headed down the alley, walking fast to put some distance between themselves and Greenland.  Then they slowed down and walked aimlessly for a while, trying to process what had just happened. 

Mary grabbed Michael’s arm.  “Do you think it’s the real stuff?”

“Well, judging by the way it smells, I would say so,” he chuckled. 

“You must be right because it would be damn near impossible to fake the complex essential oil that makes up the bouquet of marijuana.”  Mary, who was a chemist before she went to graduate school to learn biology, and who had always been fascinated with natural products, was thinking about the chemistry of the marijuana plant.  “I mean the oil contains all kinds of chemical compounds, like eugenol, guaiacol, sesquiterpene, humulen, farnesene, selinen, phellandrene, and limonene, among other things.  Oh, and there’s also caryophyllene-oxide, which is used to train some of the drug-sniffing police dogs.”

“Really?  That’s interesting.”  Michael was getting excited as the characteristic scent of marijuana enveloped them and the prospect of finally experiencing this mystical substance himself was settling in.  The oily fragrance was strong and incredibly enticing, but they knew it was a dead giveaway.  What if they ran into someone from work?  It would be obvious what was in their bag.

“We have to go home now,” said Mary.

“No, we have to get groceries first,” insisted Michael, who was always hungry thanks to his extremely active metabolism.

“But we can’t walk around with that smell,” she argued.

“Here, I have some extra bags we can seal it up in,” he reassured her. 

They had learned the hard way that you didn’t go shopping in Switzerland without shopping bags.  Once you paid for your groceries, you were expected to bag them yourself, in your own shopping bags.  Not only did you not get asked whether you wanted paper or plastic, but there weren’t any bags at all at the end of the checkout counter, not even bags that you could buy.  One experience carrying home groceries, including eggs, without bags to put them in was all it took to ensure that they would never leave home without bags again.  And now those bags would come in handy once more.  They ducked around a corner and packaged up the buds until their scent was concealed. 

“Do you think it’s actually legal here?” Mary asked.

“I don’t know,” said Michael, “but maybe we can find some information online.” 

Now that their cargo was no longer obvious, they headed into the center of town where there was a relatively large, very fancy, and probably overpriced grocery store.  But they were no longer interested in shopping around.  They bought groceries as quickly as possible and hurried home, eager to experiment with a new form of recreation.  On the way, they stopped at a tobacco shop to buy a bag of organic tobacco and a hand-operated cigarette-rolling machine. 

Once they had lugged the groceries up the three flights of stairs and into their apartment, Michael searched the Internet while Mary put the food away in their narrow, little kitchen.  Their kitchen was rather large by Swiss standards, but it seemed tiny compared to the kitchens they had had in the U.S.  In fact, everything seemed miniaturized in Europe, except for the people and the Alps.

“The sale of Cannabis for smoking is illegal,” Michael called from the living room.

Mary joined Michael at the computer.  “Oh my God, we’re going to get deported!”


“Hold on,” said Michael, “apparently the law is not strongly enforced in this part of Switzerland.  A lot of Swiss are smoking marijuana, and more and more police officers are overlooking ‘Kiffen,’ as they call it.  It’s estimated that as many as one out of four people in this nation of seven million have smoked marijuana, an additional 500,000 smoke occasionally, and 90,000 smoke daily, nearly one-third of which are teenagers.”

“That’s not good,” said Mary.  “There was a study showing that the earlier you start using marijuana, like at 12 or 13 years old, the more you’re at risk of misusing it and developing a dependency, and the harder it is to quit or reduce consumption.”

“Plus, you’re not even physically mature at that age, and it just seems riskier to take drugs during development,” said Michael, the physiologist.  “Anyway, since there are so many ‘Kiffers’ here, officials have announced plans to remove the penalties for consumption of marijuana and hashish and lift some of the restrictions on their sale and production.  What’s hash again?”

Hash is basically the hairs, called trichomes, on the flowers of mature female marijuana plants,” said Mary.  “Apparently the trichomes can be collected on leather aprons by simply walking among marijuana plants, or flowering tops can be sifted with mechanical filters or isolated with cold-water extraction.  In any case, the resin of the glandular trichomes, which is very rich in THC, is somehow separated from the plant and formed into blocks of hash, which can be smoked or ingested like the buds we just bought.”

“That’s right, it’s a more concentrated form of THC,” said Michael.  

Mary leaned over Michael’s shoulder to look at the computer screen.  “So, the laws against drug use may soften because so many Swiss are smoking marijuana?  I mean, there must be millions of people using it in the U.S., probably more like tens of millions, but the occasional discussions about legalization center on medical use to decrease nausea after chemotherapy in cancer patients or to reduce weight loss in AIDS patients.”


biosimilars market crop

Michael clicked on a tab at the bottom of the screen to restore the window.  “Well here’s an article saying that one reason they’re reconsidering the laws is because people don’t understand why marijuana is forbidden when there are so many problems with alcohol and cigarette smoking.” 

“That’s an interesting point,” Mary interjected.  “Obviously cigarette smoking can lead to lung cancer, emphysema, COPD, but how do the potential risks of marijuana and alcohol compare?”

Michael opened another search window and started typing rapidly.  “Here we go,” he said a moment later.  “Use of alcohol can result in vitamin deficiencies; memory disturbances or loss; liver damage; hallucinations, often occurring within 48 hours of abstaining from alcohol in people who are physically dependent; hypertension; pancreatitis; and heart problems.  And, of course, alcohol has also been linked to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Use of marijuana, on the other hand, can result in splitting of consciousness or feelings of observing oneself, anxiety, mood swings, amnesia, paranoia, and respiratory disorders like nicotine products.  But you can avoid the risk of respiratory disorders if you eat it rather than smoke it.”

“Or use a vaporization technique.”  Mary started pacing on the hardwood floors.  “So, it looks like the risks associated with use of marijuana are psychological, while there are physical as well as psychological risks associated with alcohol.  But the psychological effects of marijuana can be pretty serious, huh?  I mean, splitting of consciousness, amnesia, paranoia – are those temporary effects?”

“I think so.”  Michael started clicking away again.  “Says here that there’s often a splitting of consciousness when you’re high, so that you can objectively observe your own intoxication.  For example, you can be having paranoid thoughts and, at the same time, be objective about them.  So, you could be paranoid while laughing about how paranoid you’re being!”

Mary stopped pacing and looked at Michael.  “That could explain how stoned people can act normal in public.  But what about amnesia?”    

“Let’s see,” said Michael.  “Looks like amnesia triggered by marijuana intoxication is a rare event, and transient.  It probably takes a huge dose, too.”

“You know, given that the existence of marijuana is believed to predate humans, and that humans all over the world have used it for thousands of years, and that so many people have used it, even long-term, don’t you think it would be clear by now if it were really unsafe?  I mean it’s not like heroin, cocaine, or ecstasy that people are known to have died from.”

“Yeah, the proposed Swiss law definitely distinguishes marijuana from those types of hard drugs.”  Michael continued searching the Internet.  “Oh, and this explains why the Vet at Greenland checked my I.D.  The draft law would allow sale of small amounts to Swiss residents who are at least 18 years old.  Of course, critics argue that the changes would create a magnet for drug tourists.  But check this out; the government says hemp is being grown on hundreds of acres, maybe thousands, around Switzerland.  The proposed law would legalize growing hemp for smoking as long as it was sold in Switzerland.  And the federal drugs commission estimated that sales for smoking could exceed $1 billion a year!  So, I’m sure the farmers are supportive.”

“A billion U.S. dollars a year?” Mary was incredulous.

“That’s what it says.”

“Wow!  That’s incredible, especially since it doesn’t seem very expensive.”

“Yeah, so it’s not exactly legal, but tolerated.”  Michael stopped typing and spun around in his chair to face Mary.  “Maybe we should head for the hills outside of town for a picnic dinner with some green dessert?”

“Just gotta pack up our backpacks,” she replied, already gathering their things.


Switzerland was a hiker’s paradise with over 31,000 miles of hiking trails that were usually well marked.  Michael had purchased hiking maps at a bookshop near their apartment and they had already explored several trails just outside of the city.  They took the tram as far as they could, to a small town called Muttens, and then walked the rest of the way to a cluster of yellow metal signs indicating trails towards different destinations and the approximate times to get there.  Following one of the trails, they headed up into the hills and deep into the woods.  It was dark now, and no one else was around.   

Towards the top of a hill, the trail opened into a clearing containing a substantial fire pit fashioned out of large boulders and surrounded by benches made from tree trunks.  It still hadn’t rained, so they decided to gather some wood in the forest, start a fire, and stay awhile. 

Michael was an Eagle Scout, so he had no problem getting a nice fire going.  Then he sat down on the bench next to Mary and took the marijuana, tobacco, rolling papers, and rolling machine out of his backpack. 

“How about some Strawberry?” he suggested.

“That sounds like a good one to try first,” agreed Mary.

Michael took a bud of Strawberry out of the bag, rolled it gently between his fingers to break it up, and mixed it with a little tobacco.  That will make it less strong, he figured, and probably help it burn better, too.  Then he rolled the mixture into a fortified cigarette.  He lit the special cigarette and they passed it back and forth, inhaling only slightly at first to keep from coughing and then inhaling progressively deeper as they started getting used to it.

Mary thought it was so romantic to be sitting in the forest on a rustic bench in front of a warm fire with the love of her life, just hanging out together, smoking some marijuana and enjoying the peaceful silence of the woods.


Suddenly Michael started laughing.  “Wow, I feel great.  I can hear and feel my heart beating.  I guess marijuana really does increase pulse rate.” 

“But not blood pressure, right?” Mary asked him.

“It actually reduces blood pressure.  That’s why your eyes get red, cuz the blood vessels get dilated.”  Michael jumped up to feed the fire with some more wood.

“Wow look at the fire, it’s so amazing.”  Mary was mesmerized.  The dancing flames above the glowing coals had become more fascinating than ever.  “Fire must be the single greatest discovery made by man,” she mused.

“Yeah, fire provides light and warmth and keeps ferocious animals away.  And thanks to fire we can cook and smelt metal ores to make tools and weapons.”

“Smelt metal ores?” Mary giggled.  “I guess that’s a guy thing.  How was fire first discovered anyway?”

“There are lots of different stories, but my guess is that it was probably discovered by accident.  Maybe some early human hit a stone with his flint axe and it created a spark that started a fire.”

“And then they had to learn how to control it.”  

“Yeah, it must have been pretty exciting.”

Michael was aware that they were easing into a mental state of great calm and intensely pleasurable perception.  He could feel their stress melting away and the wave of relaxation that overcame them.  Suddenly his back didn’t hurt, and his headache was gone, too.  He felt alive and extremely glad to be alive.  It was heavenly. 

And then they both felt extremely hungry.  Good thing they made it to the grocery store.  They ate Swiss cheese, Emmentaler and Gruyère, with freshly baked bread.  It was both the simplest and the best meal they had ever had.  Michael even brought a bottle of French red wine and a corkscrew.  He was always prepared, which never ceased to amaze and delight Mary.  They drank the wine straight out of the bottle.  It was thick and delicious and felt warm all the way down into the stomach and then out into the rest of the body.  Life was good, thought Michael.  They had good jobs, they had each other, and they were having fun.   

He gave Mary a huge hug, and then he started preparing another one of the special cigarettes.  “Want to have some more Strawberry?”  It was a completely rhetorical question.

Mary answered him anyway.  “Sure!  We don’t have to drive anywhere!”

As they smoked and drank some more, Michael began to feel like his consciousness was somehow being activated, that it was opening up, waking up, and preparing for philosophic insights. 

“It’s amazing how living in another country makes you reevaluate things that you’ve always taken for granted,” said Michael.  “I don’t think very many Americans know what it’s like to live and work in another country.  After all, people from all over the world are trying to get into the U.S., but who wants to leave?”


“Things are really different here,” agreed Mary.  She was feeling that her thoughts were somehow more profound and that she could now see the same things in a new and different way.  “I remember waking up in the morning when we first got here and looking out the window at church steeples and ancient turrets.  I thought I was in a fairy tale.  And then I remembered that we moved to Switzerland!”

“Where there’s an intermission half-way through a movie.”

“And they come around selling ice cream, and you can use the restroom and have a cappuccino.  And the seating is assigned!”

“Yeah!  And good thing we have Ph.D. degrees, because you need one to figure out how to throw away your trash here!” 

“We finally realized that you have to buy ‘official’ garbage bags, and that they keep them behind the counter at the grocery store because they’re so expensive.” 

“Remember when our apartment smelled like stinky cheese for a week because you’re not allowed to put trash bags on the balcony?”  Just the thought of it gave Michael the urge to throw a plastic cheese wrapper into the fire and watch the fire consume it.

“Ugh — that was awful!  My God, the Swiss are obsessed with cleanliness, aren’t they?”

“Yeah, but I like that.  I’ve never seen public restrooms as clean as the ones they have here.”

“That’s true.”  Mary pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapped her arms around them, and rocked herself back and forth on the bench.

“And another good thing,” Michael continued, “is that we can now add to our resumes how skilled we are at bundling up paper for recycling in perfectly square bundles that are no larger than 0.5 x 0.5 meters and that are tied correctly with the right kind of twine.”

“Yeah, our bundles don’t get left behind like the ones that aren’t done right!”

It was good that they could laugh about it all now, mused Mary.  They needed to laugh.  It felt so good.  It was such a release.  When was the last time they laughed this much?   

“Yeah, it’s not like in the U.S. where everyone has a huge garbage container outside of their house, or a big dumpster behind their apartment building.  And you can throw all kinds of stuff in there.”


“You know,” Michael jokingly threatened, “if you put anything in the official trash bags that can’t be incinerated, or that can be recycled, like glass, paper, metal, or any textiles, the garbage police will track you down and make you pay a huge fine.  I even heard a story about an executive in our company getting in trouble for throwing away Styrofoam.”


“Yeah, I guess he had a bunch of Styrofoam packing from Christmas presents he brought back from the U.S. for his kids, and he threw it in a trash can at the airport parking lot to get rid of it.  Well, he also threw away the cardboard boxes, which had his name and address on them for the airline.  So, they came after him with a court summons and made him pay.”

Mary laughed out loud.  “I guess that taught him a lesson!” 

“Yeah well there isn’t a lot of room for landfills in this small and densely populated country, so they’re pretty serious about recycling.”

“Not to mention how serious they are about not flushing the toilet between 10 pm and 6 am!”

Michael threw his hands up.  “Yeah – what if you have to take a big shit in the middle of the night?”

“Like the kind that requires multiple flushes?”

“Especially with the water-saving toilet we have.”

“Well then you’re just shit out of luck!” laughed Mary.

“I guess so,” conceded Michael.  “But you know what another big difference is?  If we were in the U.S. right now, we wouldn’t be sitting in the woods by a fire smoking pot and drinking French wine and eating Swiss cheese!”  He snuggled close to her and put his arm around her shoulders.

She nestled her head in his shoulder.  “I know.  Can you believe that we just walked into a store and bought a bunch of marijuana, Mary Jane, pot, grass, weed, whatever you want to call it!”

“It does have a helluva lot of names, doesn’t it?  There’s also ganga, hemp, Cannabis sativa, mari-hu-ana with an ‘h’, dope, herb, reefer, greenbud, and bhang, not to mention the one we learned today – kif.”

 “And there’s sinsemilla, Cannabis indica, hooch, and stash.  And what we’re smoking is a joint or a doobie or, when it gets small, a roach.”

“Amazing how much we know about it even though we never tried it before,” Michael realized.

“It’s a huge part of our culture, everyone’s culture apparently.”

“It is a presumed fact that the number of terms for a drug is related to its usage in society.”

“I wonder if there are more names for marijuana or for God.” 


“Hmm.”  Michael thought for a moment.  “The multiple names for God best characterize the awesomely complex figure.”

“So true.  And maybe it’s similar for marijuana.  It’s definitely complex.  Cannabis contains about 70 molecules, the cannabinoids, which are not found in any other plant.  And while THC appears to be the main psychoactive component, the other cannabinoids must interact with THC in some complex way because patients who take synthetic THC alone complain that the pharmacological effects differ significantly from those achieved by eating or smoking marijuana.”  Suddenly it was all making sense.

And Michael cut right to the chase.  “The differences in the overall chemical composition of Cannabis varieties could explain how the different varieties produce different effects.” 

“Exactly!  For example, one cannabinoid called cannabichromene, besides being a strong anti-fungal, a cytotoxic agent for malignant cells, and an antidepressant, is also thought to promote the pain-relieving property of THC.  And cannabidiol also is believed to relieve pain, in addition to having a sedative effect.  Cannabinol, which may have modest psychoactivity, is anti-epileptic and can reduce ocular pressure in glaucoma patients.  And cannabigerol has sedative, antibiotic, and ocular pressure-reducing properties…” 

She was on a roll, but Michael couldn’t help interrupting.  “Think of how fascinating it would be to conduct scientific studies of the contents and effects of all the different varieties of Cannabis available at Greenland!”  

Once again, he was on exactly the same page that she was on, thought Mary.  He truly was her soul mate. “Yeah, you’d analyze the chemical composition of each variety, using gas chromatography for example, and correlate the composition with the physiological and psychological effects.”

“The only problem would be deciding which disorders to test it on first.”  Michael was thinking it through.  “I mean Cannabis has been used for thousands of years to treat just about everything, like migraines, asthma, rheumatism, glaucoma, seizures, spasticity, menstrual cramps, nausea, muscle spasms, and psychiatric disorders.”

“But now we have the ability and the tools to do studies that could lead to realization of its full therapeutic potential.”

“You’d have to identify and separate out the non-intoxicating, but biologically active compounds because psychoactive drugs are not allowed, at least not in the U.S.  And hence the difficulties involved in doing the research.”

Mary knew he was right.  “That’s why my job is to find a compound that antagonizes the effect of THC.”

“Yeah, and that might really work.  I mean getting stoned sure made us hungry.  So, if you could discover a compound that produces the opposite effect and suppresses hunger, it might be really useful for treating obesity.”

“Yeah,” she said, giving him a playful kiss on the lips.  “That’d be awesome.”

He pulled her close and returned her kiss until the fire died down and it was time to go home to bed. 


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