Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Going to Pot (or Let's Talk about Medical Marijuana)

Our state is considering legalizing medical marijuana.

As a psychiatrist, my first thought is : NO! We treat addictions, and we try hard not to cause them. Marijuana (and many other illegal substances) may help mood and anxiety in the moment, but they don't seem to fix things for the long haul. And chronic pot smoking decreased motivation, burbles your brain, and does nothing good to your lungs. I have visions of patients at the door saying they need me to prescribe pot for their anxiety. Please, doctor, please.

But then I think of end-stage cancer patients, and it really doesn't bother me if a little cannabis helps with their symptoms.

There are those who claim that oral THC (marinol) can be helpful for many symptoms, oh, but unliked the smoked stuff, Marinol doesn't get you high. There's less evidence about inhaled marijuana being effective.

So here's my question: How does medical marijuana work in your state? How widespread is the use? What are the terms and conditions under which it can be prescribed? Who gets it and with what regulation? Is it a good thing or a bad thing and why? And please, if you have links to data or studies or interesting articles about the legalization of medical marijuana, by all means put them in your comments. If you want to tell me why cannabis should be legal and it's a government plot to keep it illegal and any information from NORML, you can hold off on those links...I think I've heard that side of the story.