« New Blogger Joins The Differential | Main | SAD Medical Students »

Would You Prescribe Medical Marijuana?

Newkendra_2Kendra Campbell -- I recently watched a video of presidential candidate Mike Huckabee responding to a question on whether or not he would support medical marijuana. In his response, he mentioned that narcotics could potentially be an alternative to medical marijuana for the relief of pain. This really got me thinking.

Before I delve into the subject, I’d like to say that I’m not necessarily for or against legalizing marijuana across the board, or even just for medical use. However, I am definitely for the relief of others’ suffering, and I also believe in anecdotal evidence, as well as findings from clinical research.

I can’t claim to be an expert on the subject of medical marijuana. But from what I’ve read, there seems to be a lot of research that suports the claim that marijuana can be effective in treating chronic pain, nausea, increased interlobular pressure, and a variety of other symptoms. It has been promoted in the treatment of diseases such as AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis. Of course, on the other side of the coin, there has been research that supports the notion that marijuana can have some long-term negative effects. I could go on to list all the research for and against the use of medical marijuana, but that would require a much longer post, and it wouldn't prove anything in the end.

The statement that Huckabee made regarding narcotics (and by narcotics, I’m guessing he meant opioids) really fascinated me. His comment would mean that morphine, for example, is a viable alternative to marijuana for the treatment of chronic pain. Any physician, or medical student for that matter, can testify to the fact that morphine is effective in relieving short-term pain, and some research supports its use in the treatment of chronic pain. However, if you’ve ever seen the consequences of the administration of morphine long-term, you can guess why I have a problem with this argument. There is no debate that morphine is physically addictive. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and the drug seekers who show up in clinics and hospitals are first-hand evidence of the addictive potential of this drug.

Is marijuana also a physically addictive drug? Well, this seems to be a highly debated topic. I’ve seen evidence for both sides, but I think the preponderance of evidence favors the fact that it’s not physically addictive. Even if there is an addictive component, however, could it ever be as strong as the addiction to opioids? I guess that’s for all of you to answer.

Currently, federal law prohibits a doctor from prescribing medical marijuana to their patients. However, certain states have passed laws that allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for various medical reasons. I’m curious as to why certain doctors believe in prescribing marijuana for their patients, and how they would feel if they lived in a state (or country) where its use is prohibited. I also know very little about its use internationally. Do other countries have similar laws about the use of marijuana? I have years before I’ll be able to use a prescription pad, so I have plenty of time to think about this subject. But I wonder what I would do if I had a patient who clearly benefited from the use of medical marijuana. Would I prescribe marijuana if I knew it would relieve their suffering, and even aid in their healing? What would you do?

January 9, 2008 in Kendra Campbell | Permalink

Comments

there seems to be many of you that should actually get your head out of your rectum. Are you so narrow minded to think that everything in this world can be explained by medicine? I hope not! Or are so far up the pharmacutical companies colon that you can not see the light of day!!
Just because some guy years ago (find the history on pot in the US and you will realize it was pushed in place by a Bible thumpen jack-ass) in a white lab coat, sat behind a desk and preached the words that marijuana is "bad" and most of all, evil and addicting, does not mean that you should have a closed mind to a plant that has been around and used for thousands of years. It is just North America that is so anal about 'pot' not the rest of the world (India has been using for number of sicknesses for centuries)..If it would mean a patient would get off some of those wonderful perscription drugs most Docts get them to pay large amounts of money and numerous side effects for, to only paying a small amount and get far more out of, then I am all for it. I have seen the side effects that these drug companies are selling and they are not nice..I have witnessed first hand the power of 'Pot' with sick patients and let me tell you it is like a miracle..these patients have sat for years in pain, then after all the wonder drugs from the drug compaines did not work, they turned to Marijuana. They are once again part of the comunnity, walking, talking and thriving at life..explain that Doctor!

Posted by: Deborah | Jan 18, 2008 12:16:16 PM

This is a subject I have studied for years. It is near and dear to my heart for almost no other reason then the closed mind of the average American. Only in America does one see such a vast degree of poorly informed people making comments about subjects that they have no informational basis to make. Then pass there beliefs off as truths. When the true data disproves what they believe the only comment they have is that the Data is wrong.
Well here is the Bomb I am dropping for you all folks.
The studies have already been made very thoroughly I might add. By one Doctor Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medicine. The book Marihuana Reconsidered. Sooo lets try something novel people. Actually get educated about a subject before making rash decisions about what you think you know and what actually might be the truth. He took the chance and a very good Thesis was the result. How will you be remembered ?

Posted by: Echo Mirage' | Jan 19, 2008 3:25:45 PM

Well Echo you might as well want to get educated about the practical applications of such a thesis. Besides it's too rash for a presidential candidate to speak of medical marijuana when the Thesis has not been published yet, or the data not made available, and I believe a credited research for such an issue should have a team researching, not one doctor.
I guess we should start talking about who's responsible to inform who.

Posted by: | Jan 20, 2008 5:49:53 AM

Patients in the UK are not typically prescribed cannaboid drugs, and if the patients are not willing to smoke pot, they have to buy products such as Sativex from Canada off the web, which can cost patients a minimum of around $250 a month. Their Doctors can also write to the patient’s GP and request their primary care trust to prescribe Sativex as a 'one off' for that case.

I have seen patients swear on Sativex as the only treatment they have tried that has any significant relief of their symptoms. Most also say when using Sativex they don’t experience the 'high' they experience when smoking pot, so don't feel incapable of doing their normal daily activities.

Patients with MS can experience symptoms such as crippling stiffness, trigeminal neuralgia, and sensory disturbances such as 'electric shock' sensations. These can be completely disabling. If the patient feels cannaboid drugs work for them, I don’t see why it cant be used. A Doctor's job is to put the patient first, and most importantly consider what the patient wants, as ultimately they should be making decisions about their health, with you providing the information to the patient to make informed decisions. If the patient decides they want to use cannabis as its the only drug that relieves them of their awful symptoms, then why should you deny them of that option which would improve their quality of life, especially when you can prescribe more controlled forms (such as Sativex) than the pot they already smoke off the streets?

Cannabis obviously has side effects as all drugs do, but I believe as long as you and the patient feel its the lesser of two evils (which i believe it is in cases such as MS), then i feel its acceptable to prescribe.

Its prescription would also help monitor its use, and I feel the fact its in an inhaler form rather than something you smoke, this would prevent it being used for recreational purposes and being abused.

Posted by: sandk2k | Jan 21, 2008 3:04:43 AM

i agree to the point that much should be refined and developed to make it medically acceptable.

kmc th
nepal

Posted by: Vivek | Jan 22, 2008 5:19:04 AM

I'm confused.. all I'm reading are arguments on the efficacy of marijuana use in pain management. We all know it works for pain management. The original posed question is marijauna vs opiates as a viable and safer form of treatment.. and would you prescribe it. I'm shocked to see how many people honestly believe OPIATES are a better choice for long term pain management. I don't think many of you have done your residency rotations and seen first hand how damaging opiate addiction is.

Legalize marijuana? I don't personally care, but considering tobacco, alcohol, and opiates are legal.. and they're the top 3 addictive substances on the planet.. well... I think it's time some of you opened your eyes.

-B

Posted by: Benjamin | Jan 27, 2008 10:36:41 PM

Agreed Benjamin....except that we should care "personally" "Present policies have done little if anything to decrease marijuana's availability or dissuade youth from trying it," NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said, noting young people in the U.S. now frequently report that they have easier access to pot than alcohol or tobacco.

The total number of marijuana arrests in the U.S. for 2005 far exceeded the total number of arrests in the U.S. for all violent crimes combined, including murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

Annual marijuana arrests have more than doubled since the early 1990s.

"Arresting hundreds of thousands of Americans who smoke marijuana responsibly needlessly destroys the lives of otherwise law abiding citizens," St. Pierre said, adding that over 8 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges in the past decade. During this same time, arrests for cocaine and heroin have declined sharply, implying that increased enforcement of marijuana laws is being achieved at the expense of enforcing laws against the possession and trafficking of more dangerous drugs.

St. Pierre concluded: "Enforcing marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers between $10 billion and $12 billion annually and has led to the arrest of nearly 18 million Americans. Nevertheless, some 94 million Americans acknowledge having used marijuana during their lives. It makes no sense to continue to treat nearly half of all Americans as criminals for their use of a substance that poses no greater - and arguably far fewer - health risks than alcohol or tobacco. A better and more sensible solution would be to tax and regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco.

Posted by: Dale | Jan 30, 2008 8:55:50 AM

If there's no other way to allieve the symptoms or pain then go for it, give them the marijuana. But only if all other alternatives have been exhausted. Not that they couldn't go get some on their own.

Posted by: Utah Drug Rehab Center | Aug 13, 2008 3:04:24 PM

Marijuana Cannabis sativa L., also known as Indian hemp, is a member of the Cannabaceae or hemp family, thought to have originated in the mountainous districts of India, north of the Himalayan mountains.

-mj-

Posted by: adolescent drug treatment | Jun 15, 2009 8:51:18 PM

Marijuana means any part of the plant genus Cannabis whether growing or not the seeds thereof the resin extracted from any part of the plant, including hashish and hash oil, any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds or resin. It does not include the mature stalks of the plant; fiber produced from the stalks; oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks, or the sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination.

-mj-

Posted by: teen drug treatment | Jul 28, 2009 6:44:05 PM

Marijuana is a medicinal plant, we know that, but the problem with it is the people who abuse it in some addiction matter. So what we can do better now? Just to have a better solution with it.


-jomie-

Posted by: California drug rehab center | Aug 11, 2009 12:33:59 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.