Medical marijuana is getting more and more ridiculous. And the news media, finally, is finally taking a more discriminating look at the whole issue. In the beginning, the media took a “wow, cool…” view of the subject, succumbing to that pervasive baby boomer marijuana romance that afflicts so many people, including reporters and editors. But now, the silliness of state medical marijuana laws is becoming overwhelming. It’s become obvious to nearly everyone that this is only about smoking pot.
- In downtown Boulder, Colorado, adjacent to the University of Colorado and where businesses cater to college students, medical marijuana dispensaries are out of control. There are dozens of them, and they cater to young people, mostly students, who are usually very healthy and don’t need medical treatment for anything. Read this New York Times story and tell me if this is what medical marijuana laws intended.
- In Montana, 90 percent of medical marijuana card holders are on the registry because of “chronic pain”, not for a serious medical illness. Less than 3 percent have cancer, AIDS or glaucoma. Chronic pain cannot be adequately diagnosed in the minute-long meetings with a pot doc that are the norm in medical marijuana states. Real chronic pain doctors do not recommend marijuana use.
- DUI arrests involving marijuana have skyrocketed in Montana at the same time
that the number of registered medical marijuana users rose from about 3,000 to 15,000.
Now, the real medical and patient organizations are coming out against medical marijuana.
In August, The Glaucoma Foundation warned patients against medical marijuana, stating that “medical experts believe that marijuana could actually prove harmful for glaucoma patients.”
Glaucoma is often cited by medical marijuana advocates because THC can lower the pressure inside the eye. But medical experts now say that marijuana could actually prove harmful for glaucoma patients:
“Marijuana only lowers pressure for several hours, requiring patients to continuously medicate day and night. Failing to do so can lead to a rebound spike in eye pressure, which can be damaging. There is also growing evidence that inadequate blood supply to the optic nerve may contribute to glaucoma damage. Since marijuana given systemically is known to lower blood pressure, it is possible that such an effect could lead to optic nerve damage.”
The American Glaucoma Society published an editorial in the February issue of the Journal of Glaucoma, stating that “marijuana… cannot be recommended without a long term trial which evaluates the health of the optic nerve.” The Glaucoma Society issued a position paper last year detailing its opposition to medical marijuana treatment for glaucoma.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society similarly has warned patients away from medical marijuana, following continued claims by medical marijuana advocates that it is a viable treatment for that disease.
The Society cannot at this time recommend that medical marijuana be made widely available to people with MS for symptom management. This decision was not only based on existing legal barriers to its use but, even more importantly, because studies to date do not demonstrate a clear benefit compared to existing symptomatic therapies and because issues of side effects, systemic effects, and long-term effects are not yet clear.
New research also is raising questions about using marijuana to treat HIV/AIDS-related symptoms. A Harvard study found that THC could enhance the ability of the virus that causes Kaposi’s Sarcoma to infect cells and multiply. AIDS patients are susceptible to developing Kaposi’s Sarcoma.
What about chronic pain, which is the most popular quickie diagnosis for marijuana cards?
The National Pain Foundation says pain patients should avoid marijuana because it interferes with restful sleep. The foundation also says that while there may be a future in cannabinoid-based medications for pain, smoked marijuana has too many side effects and its hard to find the optimal dose for pain.
Anxiety is another common pot clinic diagnosis. But marijuana causes anxiety, rather than curing it. Lots of research shows this, but perhaps the best is a long-range study of teenagers in Australia published in the British Medical Journal. It showed that teens who smoked pot daily were five times more likely to develop anxiety and depressive disorders, while those who used the drug weekly were twice as likely. Psychiatrists do not recommend marijuana for patients with anxiety disorder.
The Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health have both said that smoked marijuana is not medicine. Burning leaves of anything and inhaling the smoke is carcinogenic. Besides, there are so many compounds within marijuana smoke, it’s very difficult to do rigorous scientific evaluations about the benefits of smoking marijuana. Cannabinoids have been found to have medicinal properties if they are separated out, tested and synthesized.
The AMA put it most clearly:
The patchwork of state-based systems that have been established for “medical marijuana” is woefully inadequate in establishing even rudimentary safeguards that normally would be applied to the appropriate clinical use of psychoactive substances. The future of cannabinoid-based medicine lies in the rapidly evolving field of botanical drug substance development, as well as the design of molecules that target various aspects of the endocannabinoid system.
Real science, real medicines and real medical treatment are the last things that medical marijuana advocates are interested in. They could care less about synthesized cannabinoid-based medications. They want to smoke marijuana, period. The media is finally taking a serious look at the hypocrisy of state medical marijuana laws, although the media itself helped create this monster.