Medical Marijuana Is Not Regulated as Most Medicines Are

Another marijuana-based drug, Nabiximole (Sativex), is available in Canada and several European countries to treat spasticity and nerve pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Medical cannabis is hardly a new therapeutic agent. It was widely used as a patent drug in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries and listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia until the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 made it illegal.

Then a 1970 federal act made it a Schedule 1 substance that severely restricted access to marijuana for legitimate research. To make matters worse, plants like marijuana contain hundreds of active chemicals, the amounts of which can vary widely from batch to batch. Unless researchers can study purified substances in known quantities, conclusions about benefits and risks are highly unreliable.

As in Dr. Finn’s book, here are some expert conclusions about the role of medical marijuana in their respective fields:

People who use marijuana for pain relief do not reduce their dependence on opioids. In fact, Dr. Finn: “Narcotics patients who also use marijuana for pain say their pain level is still 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.” The authors of the chapter on pain, Dr. Peter R. Wilson, pain specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and Dr. Sanjog Pangarkar of the Greater Los Angeles, VA Health Service concluded, “Cannabis itself does not produce analgesia and, paradoxically, it could interfere with opioid analgesia. “A 2019 study of 450 adults in the Journal of Addiction Medicine found that medical marijuana not only did not relieve pain for patients, it also increased the risk of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

Dr. Allen C. Bowling, a neurologist at the NeuroHealth Institute in Englewood, Colorado, noted that while marijuana has been extensively studied as a treatment for multiple sclerosis, the results of randomized clinical trials have been inconsistent. The studies overall showed some but limited effectiveness, and in one of the largest and longest studies, the placebo performed better in treating spasticity, pain, and bladder dysfunction, wrote Dr. Bowling. Most of the studies used pharmaceutical grade cannabis that is not available in pharmacies.

The study, which suggests that marijuana could reduce the risk of glaucoma, dates back to 1970. In fact, THC does lower the harmful pressure in the eye, but as Dr. Finny T. John and Jean R. Hausheer, ophthalmologists at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, wrote, “To achieve therapeutic levels of marijuana in the bloodstream for treating glaucoma, a person would have to smoke approximately six to eight times a day. At that point, the person would likely be physically and mentally incapable of performing tasks that require attention and focus, such as: B. Working and driving. The major medical eye care companies have thumbs down on marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma.

Allison Karst, a psychiatric pharmacy specialist at VA Tennessee Valley Health System who researched the benefits and risks of medical marijuana, concluded that marijuana can have “negative effects on mental health and neurological function,” including deterioration the symptoms of PTSD and bipolar disorder.

Dr. Karst also cited a study that showed that only 17 percent of edible cannabis products were accurately labeled. In an email, she wrote that the lack of regulation “creates difficulties in extrapolating available evidence to different products in the consumer market due to differences in chemical composition and purity”. She cautioned the public not to weigh “both potential benefits and risks,” which I would add a caveat to – buyers beware.

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