Medical Marijuana: Read the Warning Label

By Herald Patin, Guest Opinion

Understanding marijuana (Cannabis) as a medicine is a jump too far in responsible, safe, and effective legal medicine. Will there be more harm than help There are long developed sensible protocols designed to evaluate what may be a useful, helpful medicine, or just a harmful intoxicant with many long-term unknown effects.

The marijuana plant is really called Cannabis. So, the key chemicals created in Cannabis are called Cannabinoids. These chemicals are only made by nature within the Cannabis plant. They are psychotropic, meaning they enter the brain and have distinctive effects. These effects can be mind-altering, intoxicating, psychedelic, addicting, or maybe beneficial. The only way to determine the safety & efficacy is by scientific studies. This is what happens when an investigative new drug (IND) goes through the FDA process.

There are over 80 Cannabinoids contained in the Cannabis plant. The exact chemical structures vary depending on what strain of Cannabis you encounter. Basically, most all drugs, including most prescription drugs, are derived from plants. Perhaps we can add some medicines to the Pharmacopeia from Cannabis, but there is aright way and a wrong way. The tried and true FDA method is the right way. Physicians must also consider their Hippocratic Oath, do no harm.

The Cannabinoids which are getting attention are THC and CBD. THC is tetra hydro cannabinol and CBD is cannabidiol. THC and the several forms like Delta-9-THC and several others, has long been identified as the key intoxicant. Some researchers have also found that THC has antiemetic(stops vomiting) properties and appetite stimulating properties. No research shows that THC has any beneficial effect on cancer. There are also studies that show THC has effects which are not helpful for PTSD.

The trend in treating psychiatric disorders has moved heavily in favor of medication rather than psychotherapy (talk therapy) over the last decade. I think it is due to being less expensive and we should allow more talk therapy and medication when needed. PTSB patients and those suspected of this condition, should be thoroughly evaluated by a psychotherapy team and treated with talk therapy and medication as the evaluation determines.

CBD appears to have beneficial effects on nervous disorders, such as spasticity, seizures or Parkinson’s Disorder. There are studies presently underway to determine if this is really safe and effective. Best of all, there are many drugs available now to treat all of the above. Available at your local drugstore or a prescription from your physician and covered by most insurance plans. There are even drugs made based on the Cannabinoids. These are Marinol and Cesamet, based on the THC molecule. These ‘pure’ drugs are taken in pill form with consistent dosages.

Also,drugs based on the CBD moleculeare Sativex and Epidiolex. These drugs are now under going trials but would be available now as compassionate relief. It is expected that these drugs will be cleared soon. Sativex is available, legally in the UK, EU, and Canada. Epidiolex is available in California.

It is important to note that real science is not a couple of individuals thinking that smoking marijuana is really a medicine and it has safely helped them. Science relies little on anecdotal data. The FDA method is real science. We must consider the side effects and the long-term effects of any IND. Smoking should not be considered medicine, since it obviously adds to problems with the respiratory system.

Marijuana, Cannabis, pot, whatever you call it is a Schedule 1 Controlled Dangerous Substance. It maybe used for research only by Registrants under DEA rules with a protocol for research approved by the FDA and DHHS. As some molecules show medical promise, they may be included in other schedules that allow for prescriptions and dispensing by pharmacies.(Marinolis Schedule 3 and Cesametis Schedule 2).

Then the American Legion magazine article (8/2015) mentions the use of marijuana for the eye disease, glaucoma. This is unwise, since we should rely on eye treatment experts to choose the right treatment for eye diseases. Presently, ophthalmology physicians do not recommend marijuana to treat glaucoma. There are many medicines now available to treat glaucoma and sometimes surgery is needed. That is the way to treat disease. Trust the professionals. Trust the medics, experts, not a patient who thinks they know more than all the scientists.

If we look at the history of science and medical advances, we can find many examples of treatments which did not work. We continued our advances in science and discovered so many thing a bout chemistry, biology, the cells, DNA, the brain, heart, and every part of us, our universe, and our lives. Glaucoma is a serious eye disease involving intra-ocular pressure and possible damage to the optic nerve.

OPHTHALMOLOGY CONCERNS:

In 2003, the American Academy of Ophthalmology released a position statement stating that cannabis was not more effective than prescription medications. Furthermore, no scientific evidence has been found that demonstrates increased benefits and/or diminished risks of cannabis used to treat glaucoma compared with the wide variety of pharmaceutical agents now available.

In 2012 the American Glaucoma Society published a position paper discrediting the use of cannabis as a legitimate treatment for elevated intra-ocular pressure, for reasons including short duration of action and side effects that limit many activities of daily living. The VA Hospitals have fallen into a huge problem of servicing our veterans. We hope that the new VA leader can get us back to properly caring for our veterans. We do not need the VA doctors to discuss, recommend, prescribe or dispense marijuana to our needy veterans. Instead, doctors can prescribe other medically-sound solutions that are covered by insurance and VA plans.

References

Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Retrieved 2011-04-09.
“Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base”. Nap. edu. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
“Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base (1999), Institute of Medicine, National Academies Press”. Nap. edu. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
“Complementary Therapy Assessment: Marijuana in the Treatment of Glaucoma”. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
“Complementary Therapy Assessments: American Academy of Ophthalmology”. One. aao.org. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
Jampel, Henry (2010). “American Glaucoma Society Position Statement: Marijuana and the Treatment of Glaucoma”. J Glaucoma 19 (2): 75.

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