Saturday, November 25, 2017

Can medical weed fight opioids?

Can weed alleviate the opioid crisis? Such is the question asked last week on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal. UCLA's Dr. Richard Boxer wrote:


Jennifer, a 37-year-old Virginia school teacher now unable to work due to unrelenting pain caused by a genetic spinal disease, stared hopelessly at the bottle of opioids her doctor had prescribed her. Beset by desperation discomfort, she faced a difficult choice. The opioids would provide limited relief but came with a high risk of addiction. Or she could try marijuana, which would likely be safer but put her on the wrong side of the law.

Jennifer chose marijuana. She drove to Washington, D.C., where the drug is sold legally, and visited three medical marijuana storefronts offering ridiculously named products like “Kush,” “Diesel” and “Head Trip.” While the offerings were of unknown concentrations and efficacy for her pain, they worked to a greater degree and with fewer side effects than any previous medication Jennifer had tried. Her experience (she is the daughter of a patient in Los Angeles, where I practice) inspired me to advocate for further research into clinical uses of the drug for pain relief.

For the most part, doctors and patients rely on anecdotal information when deciding on a treatment path involving cannabinoids. No rigorous scientific studies have been published that corroborate claims about marijuana’s medical benefits when prescribed and used properly. The federal government should remove the drug from Schedule I of the Federal Controlled Substances Act so researchers can lawfully assess its medical potential......

Not only is marijuana a potentially effective pain treatment, it may also help alleviate the opioid crisis. States that have legalized medical marijuana enjoy significantly lower levels of opioid consumption and overdose deaths than states that continue to penalize possession and use, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association: “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate . . . compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego found that hospitalization rates of people suffering from painkiller abuse and addiction dropped 23% and overdoses requiring hospitalization fell 13% in places where medical marijuana was made legal. And a recent study found that Colorado, which legalized the drug for recreational use in 2014, experienced a 6.5% reduction in opioid-related deaths.

Last year alone, more than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Recognizing the link between decriminalizing marijuana and reducing opioid overdoses could save thousands of lives. With 650,000 prescriptions for opioids filled each day (3,900 for new patients) the epidemic seems likely to continue. Although scientific proof is no guarantee of an end to partisan squabbling, evidence-based medical data may offer hope for a consensus about the effectiveness of cannabis in the alleviation of human suffering.

Jennifer is not a criminal. She uses marijuana to relieve her debilitating pain because it is effective, non-addictive and almost impossible to overdose on. By preventing essential research on the medical uses of the drug, the federal government forces Jennifer, and thousands like her, into an impossible position.

Dr. Richard Boxer is a clinical professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and medical adviser to iAnthus Capital Management, which invests in the cannabis industry.

Keep in mind that the author is merely advocating changing the classification of medical marijuana so it can be more easily studied.    However, there were a couple of letters in today's edition of the Journal that disputed Dr. Baxter's thesis:

Dr. Boxer advances weak statistical associations between state medical-marijuana laws and decreased opioid use, while ignoring evidence that marijuana use has actually worsened the opioid epidemic. He states that the marijuana gateway effect “is so far unsupported.” Yet a 20-year review has shown a relationship between youth marijuana use and subsequent use of other drugs, to be “the most consistent findings in epidemiological studies of drug use in young adults.”

Youth marijuana use increases the risk of opioid disorder and consequences. Recent findings confirm perverse outcomes regarding psychosis, for those suffering PTSD and, critically, treatment regarding opioid recovery.
 
John P. Walters, David W. Murray 
Hudson Institute
 Hmmm....... medicinal marijuana is not the same thing as the recreational variety but just mention the M word and the freakout begins.  Here is one more letter. 

In Colorado, emergency rooms are seeing an increase in youth with cannabis in their systems. In addition, Colorado is seeing an increase in young motorists pulled over who have high levels of Delta-9 THC (the psychoactive element of marijuana) in their system. The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has a crushingly negative impact on the state’s youth who place it in edible candies or ingest it through vaping.

Marijuana use isn’t the answer for pain management. Unfortunately, marijuana use only increases the pain in other areas of our society.

William H. Arrington III
Johnstown, Colo.
 Another classic example of fearmongering.  The column simply says that the laws should be changed so the  benefits and side effects of medical marijuana can be studied.  One would think that in the 21st century, scientific study is not illegal even when the subject is something as taboo as marijuana. 

Interesting debate.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Israel leads the world in medical marijuana research. You can find info on line about their studies. Big Pharma and the alcohol industry are ALL OVER getting their grubby monopolistic paws on everything related to marijuana and will block legalization of pot here until they have their cards lined up to hugely and exclusively profit from it. If pot works under controlled circumstances for pain relief, PTSD, epilepsy, etc. then why would we NOT allow such research? As far as "youth" is concerned, "youth" will experiment with whatever they can get their hands on, and the gateway drugs for most of them are beer and cigarettes, not pot.

Anonymous said...

Ole Miss is the only government-sanctioned producer of marijuana for medical research.

Fun Fact :-)

Anonymous said...

It can absolutely help! Marijuana is an off-ramp, not a gateway. Most of the people who use opioids also use alcohol and tobacco, but we don’t ban those substances because of the “gateway effect.” At the end of the day, Marijuana is much safer than any kind of opioid.

Anonymous said...

2:14, that was true in the 70s and 80s. Several universities now grow it for research.

The Southern Baptists in the legislature won't let this through in our generation. Mainly because it makes so much sense.

Anonymous said...

What is the longest war the U.S. has been involved in? Vietnam, Afghanistan? Nope. The war on drugs and poverty. We have failed miserably at both. Makes you wonder how hard the politicians are fighting this war. The U.S. government helped Colombian and Mexican cartels ship cocaine into the U.S.

American big pharma is the largest drug pusher in the world.

Anonymous said...

5:07 apparently doesn't realize that many of the top pharmaceutical companies are based in Europe. It's a global industry.

Anonymous said...


If MJ works, I'm all for it. Let's just make sure we don't trade in one problem for another one.

Anonymous said...

weed is no more a gateway than alcohol or tobacco. it mainly just leads to needing to buy more stock in Funjuns, Reese's, and those strawberry icee machines!

Anonymous said...

I love how stoners are so concerned about medical research and treatment of diseases. They're experts in the medical benefits of cannabis and speak loudly and publicly about it, when what they really want is a way to legalize their favorite smoking substance.

Next time a dope advocate starts talking about cannabis and glaucoma, ask them about beta blockers or prostaglandins and watch their faces screw up into that "I need a Twinkie" look.

Same with agriculture. Funny how dudes who spend 90% of their time indoors puffing on Acapulco artichoke know everything about hemp cultivation and how America agribusiness is suffering because they can't grow hemp. Never mind that hemp is notoriously hard to process compared to other fibers and synthetics, our national rope industry is suffering!

I think that legalization is inevitable and that's fine, but the notion that pot legalization will revolutionize medicine and agriculture is stoner subterfuge to legitimize burning weed. Yes, there are medical benefits, but it's not the wonder drug that Starbucks baristas would have you believe.

Anonymous said...

Why must a discussion on medical marijuana in pill form always turn into yack about smoking weed. The two are not even similar. If you want to smoke weed, smoke weed. This is about medical THC not roach clips and snack food.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi should act on this and do right for suffering people who are so ill and in pain. There are so many legal “bad” drugs out there people have to rely on where big pharma rakes in millions, (which goes out of state). Why not let people have access to something that works and is affordable? Mississippi needs to get its act together.

Anonymous said...

I've known a thousand people who smoke weed to get high, stay zoned out for two hours and can't move faster than a snail....but I have yet to meet one who says he smokes it because of pain....or one who says pain caused by his medical condition is exacerbated when he's stoned.

If you turn around real fast, in a circle, 22 times, you will fall down and remain pain free for about two minutes. Don't try this on a bar stool or in church though.

Anonymous said...

One day, big pharma will figure out how to get intelkectual property ownership of pot and every compound in it. Then, they’ll buy off politicians to pass legislation to legalize their form of it. Problem solved. Best government money can buy.

They’re going to have to think of something, because the opioid lawsuits are coming and they are going to be worse than anything big tobacco ever had nightmares about.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if MJ for Medical use was only available in a pill form some of the arguments against it would abate. I would certainly try it.

Anonymous said...

Weed is bad M-kay?

I’ve watched people who enjoy weed daily for decades now....most have the same thing in common.

They are damn lazy.

Anonymous said...

Wow, 6:21, appeal to authority much? You want stoners to discontinue something that can be grown in their back yard because they can't, in your opinion, accurately enough describe the incredibly complex chemistry used to produce most modern pharmaceuticals? Can you? The Cheetos and Pizza shit continues to be incredibly funny. At least the lazy stoners aren't kicking down doors, killing pets, and throwing flash bangs in cribs to keep someone from getting high.

If they applied the same violence to your wife for washing down her 'legal' prescriptions with a glass of chardonnay before picking up the kids from school, I'd imagine you'd be singing a different tune.

You're right. Keep Marijuana on Schedule I, our exhaustive research had proved it has zero medicinal benefit. Your benzoids and booze are health foods.

And cheetos. And lazy. Stupid stoners.

Anonymous said...

Lots of ignorance in this thread.

Anonymous said...

Well said 1:27... I have two children who suffer from seizures. It is a living hell. We have been to two major medical institutions including Mayo and have gotten no relief other than to be prescribed heavy pharmaceuticals which have made them zombies and/or raging lunatics, not to mention it has almost bankrupted us because some of the drugs are not covered by insurance.
We have finally found relief in THC oil, which is "medical marijuana". Most medical marijuana is in the form of oil, which is put under your tongue in very small drops. It also alleviates pain. It is NOT smoked like normal "WEED" or inhaled in any fashion. We have gone through great lengths to receive the oil which is legal in some states but as others have mentioned, will never be legalized in the South.
Keep showing your ignorance, 1:19. This has nothing to do with the normal "stoners" as you call them. God help you if you or anyone in your family ever has serious health problems.

Anonymous said...

It's SO easy to tell which posts are from stoners.

Anonymous said...

legalizing medical pot won't cut down on the number of people begging for pain pills, it will just make our state full of more polysubstance garbage cans that cost us more and more.

I had a friend that said we should legalize all opiates and benzos then refuse to treat overdoses, Darwin would weed out the idiots in about a month. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Weren't we given dominion over plants in Genesis? Why are these "politicians" placing themselves above God?

Anonymous said...

So some of you neysayers would rather legitimate chronic pain patients be on pharmaceutical HEROIN (Opioids)than ingest natural flowers provided by God that we can grow in our backyards that doesn't have any OD statistics? At least 192 legal Opioid patients did not wake up this morning even tho they properly used this LEGAL medication.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but FDA Is truly the Federal Death Administration by allowing Purdue to market OxyContin as a non-addictive opiate that can be used for life wo increasing the dosage,which was an intentional lie. They allowed Xanax to pass based on a 3 week study and indicate it should only be taken for a very short time...do you know anyone on Xanax? The people I know have been on it for years and keep increasing their dose while their quality of life has greatly decreased.However their panic attacks & anxiety keeps increasing turning them into agoraphobics

Anonymous said...

Your local government can't figure out how to deliver you clean water nor driveable streets, but somehow, your federal government can determine what is or isn't right for each and every of the 300 million plus that live in this country (from thousands of miles away) should or shouldn't put in your body.

Keep kneeling before these fools.

Anonymous said...

Medical marijuana is exactly the same thing as recreational marijuana. You're uninformed if you think otherwise. But that is a perfectly fine thing. It's a non-toxic plant.

Extracts into pill form and edibles almost always change the effects from the plant, and not necessarily for the better. You can't simply isolate the supposed "good parts" from the supposed "bad parts." Read up on the entourage effect to understand how all the plant's compounds work together in concert for good, just as nature intended.

On another note, western state economies are booming in large part because of marijuana legalization, and Mississippi would be smart to capitalize on the emerging tech and opportunity. But we're not smart.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 11:55am. 🌿

Anonymous said...

10:34 Marijuana oil was specifically legalized in MS for children with intractable seizure disorders about two years ago. It is only available through the pharmacy at UMMC. Much closer than Mayo in Rochester.

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