Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

Is Marijuana a Medicine?

Or is a new generation of addicts emerging?

by
Theodore Dalrymple

Bio

March 2, 2013 - 7:00 am
Page 1 of 3  Next ->   View as Single Page

No doubt I have forgotten much pharmacology since I was a student, but one diagram in my textbook has stuck in my mind ever since. It illustrated the natural history, as it were, of the way in which new drugs are received by doctors and the general public. First they are regarded as a panacea; then they are regarded as deadly poison; finally they are regarded as useful in some cases.

It is not easy to say which of these stages the medical use of cannabis and cannabis-derivatives has now reached. The uncertainty was illustrated by the on-line response from readers to an article in the latest New England Journal of Medicine about this usage. Some said that cannabis, or any drug derived from it, was a panacea, others (fewer) that it was deadly poison, and yet others that it was of value in some cases.

The author started his article with what doctors call a clinical vignette, a fictionalized but nonetheless realistic case. A 68-year-old woman with secondaries from her cancer of the breast suffers from nausea due to her chemotherapy and bone pain from the secondaries that is unrelieved by any conventional medication. She asks the doctor whether it is worth trying marijuana since she lives in a state that permits consumption for medical purposes and her family could grow it for her. What should the doctor reply?

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
My wife suffers from a numer of ailments of which the worst is severe rheumatoid arthritus. The medicines make her sick to her stomach and she spends many a night crying because of the pain. Having crushed my spine and suffering the pain from that situation, I can only begin to appreciate what my wife is going though. What both my wife and I find both infuriating and grossly insulting are people who are quite healthy and without pain telling us how we should feel about issues such as pain management. How dare they! Until you get people in decision making positions who understand how terrible chronic pain and illness is, we will never get intelligent policies promulgated. If a person is in chronic pain and cannot eat and they are 65 years old, then what is the problem of letting them try anything that might help such as medical marijuana? This whole situation now reminds me of when the Clinton administration was asked why they would not allow medical marijuana be used to treat terminally ill patients, and they responded that they were concerned about the long term health effects so the request would be denied.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One of the editors of National Review way back was getting chemo and his doctors suggested he acquire marijuana illegally to stop the nausea. He did and it worked.

It is foolish to not allow doctors to prescribe the drug.


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (108)
All Comments   (108)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
The problem with "Medical Marijuana" is that it is predominantly a nudge-nudge wink-wink "let's get high" didge of the law, like the generic "health of the mother" clause some insist is present in all abortion legislation. It is an intentionally subjective Get Out of Jail Free tool.

I've always contended that if a doctor really wants to use marijuana as a medicine, having the patient ingest the active ingredient into their lungs with a plethora of inactive ingredients and carcinogens in the form of smoke seems not only to be a poor delivery mechanism but also to pose potential health risk.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1) There is no problem with Medical Marijuana. The problem is you.

2) You attempt to imply that Medical Marijuana is just a cute way to skirt the law. The reality is that Marijuana's use as a treatment for a wide variety of ails is carved in stone.

Medical Marijuana saves child's life: Just one of many examples.
http://66.116.176.65/home/1-compassion-associates/124-joeys-journey-medical-marijuana-saves-childs-life-.html

3) No one cares what you contend because you know nothing of which you speak.

4) Show us a legitimate example of Marijuana causing Cancer. The burden of proof is upon you.

5) There is no proven health risk to smoking Marijuana. And you cannot provide proof that there is.

6) Why am I even troubling myself trying to educate a person that believes protecting the life of a woman is just an excuse to kill a fetus?

Sub-man indeed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Biggest, boldest lie I've ever seen in politics was in Arkansas's recent attempt to legalize medical marijuana. They used American heroes by suggesting that marijuana was an excellent treatment for PTSD. No good doctor would ever prescribe an addictive substance to a PTSD patient, unless he absolutely had to.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Marijuana is not addictive. Other than the fact that when a person finds something they enjoy they tend to practice the same on a regular basis such as eating pizza or having sex.

There's a link above that says "How to Exercise Your Brain to Make It Strong". I suggest you explore it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Doctor's can, and do, prescribe THC, the active anti-nausea ingredient. It's called Marinol, but it's not used much because it's generally less effective than most nausea medications, and it's addictive. However, some patients don't respond to other anti-nausea therapy, so they are prescribed Marinol. That, and the fact that marijuana has a ton more chemicals in it and really has no other medical use that we know of, really should turn a doctor off of marijuana.

And, of course, all "medical marijuana" movements and legislation is really a way to get crap past the voters for recreational use. It's dishonest government at it's finest.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"That, and the fact that marijuana has a ton more chemicals in it and really has no other medical use that we know of"

You speak of "facts" yet offer ignorance. And who is "we"? YOU don't know. That is the only fact here.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Alcohol and tobacco are just as addicitve and have just as much or more potential to wreck lives. The War on Drugs is an insane exercise in futility.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My wife suffers from a numer of ailments of which the worst is severe rheumatoid arthritus. The medicines make her sick to her stomach and she spends many a night crying because of the pain. Having crushed my spine and suffering the pain from that situation, I can only begin to appreciate what my wife is going though. What both my wife and I find both infuriating and grossly insulting are people who are quite healthy and without pain telling us how we should feel about issues such as pain management. How dare they! Until you get people in decision making positions who understand how terrible chronic pain and illness is, we will never get intelligent policies promulgated. If a person is in chronic pain and cannot eat and they are 65 years old, then what is the problem of letting them try anything that might help such as medical marijuana? This whole situation now reminds me of when the Clinton administration was asked why they would not allow medical marijuana be used to treat terminally ill patients, and they responded that they were concerned about the long term health effects so the request would be denied.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
well said. While the smell of a dozen people smoking weed is repulsive, and I'm sorta happy I don't have to encounter it often :) , there's no excuse for denying medical use of something even if it is outlawed as a drug.
Morphine is issued by the US government, despite being just heroin which is a far more dangerous substance than is marihuana.
Same with meth. When brewed in someone's backroom it's an illegal drug, when brewed in the factories of a pharmaceutical company it's ok to use it on teenage (and even preteen) kids to "treat ADHD" (iow to keep them nicely subdued so they won't cause trouble).
But here it's a plant anyone can grow in their backyard that causes mild intoxication only and suddenly it's so deadly dangerous even medical research into its properties has to be banned.

I was once told the real reason marihuana is banned is NOT the intoxicating effects when smoked, but the fact that the hemp fibers the plants provide are competition for cotton growers.
I don't know whether that's true, but it sounds as logical as any other explanation, especially as such things have been documented to happen elsewhere (think the blanket ban on asbestos, AFTER the carcinogenic variants had already been abandoned but at a time that the competitors were not economically viable and far less effective as fire insulation).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
vivarto is absolutely right. It doesn't matter squat whether pot is a medicine or not. As a responsible adult I smoke pot to get high - just like I have a beer to get high. The vast majority of American adults who smoke pot do so responsibly but are made criminals by the gov't. Conservatives should be 100% behind decriminalization if they are indeed the party that empowers the individual. As it stands right now neither party defends the individual - period. Since I live in MI I'm going to go buy a freakin' Big Gulp and burn a joint while I'm at home relaxing after work today - which should be the right of every free American and the goal of conservatism.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You, sir, are a credit to your country. And I mean that most sincerely. :)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I would be 100% behind decriminalization if pot smokers would accept 100% of the responsibility for the direct -- and indirect -- consequences of their use. That includes not demanding that any employer must hire them while they retain traces elements of THC in their bloodstream. That, sir, is what "empowerment of the individual" entails.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Bunk! They don't test for alcohol, why should they test for THC unless public safety is involved?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why shouldn't they be allowed to test for alcohol?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
because there's too many false positives, and you'd effectively ban alcohol if you did that.
Just think: alcohol traces remain in your blood for days after you drink.
So you had a glass of wine at dinner friday evening, thinking you're fine by monday. Tuesday there's a random alcohol test and you show positive for trace elements, cause for firing on the spot.

And then there's medical conditions that can cause alcohol tests to show intoxication, certain medications too.
All those people'd be unemployable.

And the same could well be true of THC and a million other chemicals someone thinks are "objectionable".

Far better to not test and fire people based on job performance rather than the composition of their blood or urine.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
But it's their company. Shouldn't they have the right to be stupid about their hiring practices?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
LOL :)

I own a chain of headshops. If you can pass a drug test you can't work for me.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever."
http://www.george-orwell.org/1984

"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed? ...We want them broken... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt."
'Dr. Floyd Ferris'
"Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand.
http://www.amazon.com/Atlas-Shrugged-Ayn-Rand/dp/0451191145
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Excellent choice of avatar. :)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It is completely irrelevant if marijuana is medicine or not. What counts is that citizens of a free country citizens should be considered responsible adults. We don't need the nanny state to watch over us and protect us from harming ourselves. I personally don't do believe that marijuana is harmful and that it significantly lowers the intelligence of the takers, yet I consider a government intrusion into peoples personal lives million times more harmful than all the "illegal" drugs combined.
We sacrificed 300,000 men in WWII for freedom. Clearly freedom is a higher value than life. If someone wants to commit suicide by drugs, it is a much lesser harm than if their freedom were to be taken away.
Wake up Americans!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The author of the article comes to the conservative conclusion that doctors should prescribe cannabis medicinally only..."

...after it has been subject to the years of testing like every other wannabe "medicine". Why is marijuana exempt from this when even skin creams must demonstrate results before claiming any medicinal benefit?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It is not marijuana that should be exempted, rather the other way around. All creams and all other medicines should be liberated from the medical mafia and admitted to the free market.
If we were to get rid of the medical pharmaceutical monopolies, our healthcare costs would go down by the factor of 10. Yes, there would be some unfortunate cases of people harming themselves with improper medication, and cases of unqualified doctors harming people. However even today doctors are the 3rd leading cause of death after heart diseases and cancer. It is time to start treating grown-ups as grown-ups.
Other mechanisms can be found for dealing with addictions.
My suggestion is that if an addict wants to get assistance from the government, he/she voluntarily surrenders his/her right to buy drugs. This is very different from imposing a ban on the whole nation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
hello to all the persecuted pot heads :) yes "marijuana" is a medicine, and yes there is a new generation of addicts- crystal meth heads! cannabis helps alleviate pain in joints, muscles, and in my experience in my spinal cord- in a way that is new to medicine. it is as much the unknown beneficial qualities of cannabis that scares professionals; as the known effects of nausea relief, and placing the user in a more well-being state of physical exercise (which of itself enables the body nature to help heal itself) which threatens to place medical practitioners out of work. of itself is cannabis healing? or just putting the body in a better condition to heal itself ? both outcomes are promoting healing. cannabis is beneficial medicine. for those fearing a particular extreme strain of constant abuse by their child resulting in temporary brain illness- be better parents. cannabis does help those whom need it, and should be a legal option in every doctor's tool bag. with so few side effects, it could be prescribed before most narcotics. with each patient, there should be the choice to try.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Doctors don't like pot because it contains thousands of chemicals, many of which we don't know about. Those that we do know about, we don't know what they do.

Also, the effects of smoking are well known. No doctor should ever prescribe smoking marijuana.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not only short-sighted, but grotesquely uneducated and downright ignorant.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
shortsighted opinion in the extreme.
A doctor should prescribe something if the benefits outweigh the risks.

Or are you also opposed to chemotherapy for cancer? Little public secret: chemotherapy means injecting the patient with deadly poisons, in the hope they kill the tumour before they kill the rest of the patient.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 4 Next View All