A few years ago, I began to see children in my practice who seemingly responded to marijuana-derived extracts. And as a result, I grew cautiously optimistic that these extracts might be good treatments for the condition.
As a devout believer in evidence-based medicine, I still needed experimental data that could distinguish bona fide effectiveness from a deceptive impression of benefit — a placebo effect.
But my desire to study marijuana ran headlong into a seemingly immovable obstacle: the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The agency’s illogical and stubborn stance makes it all but impossible for scientists to study cannabidiol. I persevered and eventually succeeded in launching a study, but no doubt many others give up, robbing us of valuable insight into marijuana’s potential benefits.
Despite limited evidence, Americans have an increasingly positive view of the health benefits of marijuana. Nearly two-thirds believe pot can reduce pain, while close to half say it improves symptoms of anxiety, depression, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, according to a new online survey of 9,003 adults.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey are among the 30 states, along with the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, that have legalized medical marijuana. But scientists say hard data on the health effects of pot — both positive and negative — are largely missing. Because marijuana is considered an illicit drug by the federal government, research has been scant, though there are efforts underway in Pennsylvania and nationally to remedy that.
“I am not surprised at all [by the survey]. At the same time, I’m a little bit disturbed,” said Antoine Douaihy, senior academic director of addiction medicine services at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He was not involved in the study.
The federal agency joins a community of health experts who think smoking is not a good way to consume weed.
The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, recently suggested that the agency would never approve of smoking cannabis. This opposition to smoking is shared by many health experts, even those who approve of medical cannabis in general.
FEATURED PHOTO: WASHINGTON, D.C. – APRIL 05: FDA Commissioner-designate Scott Gottlieb testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on April 5, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Medical marijuana appears to hold only limited promise for sick children and teenagers, a new review suggests.
It can help kids fighting cancer with chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, and it can control seizures somewhat in children with epilepsy, said study author Dr. Shane Shucheng Wong. He is a psychiatrist with Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston.
But there’s not enough evidence to say that medical marijuana can help kids with any other medical conditions, such as neuropathic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Tourette’s syndrome, Wong added.
We are often judged by the company we keep, even unfairly. For decades, that has been the fate of cannabidiol, a chemical compound that has the bad luck to occur naturally in marijuana, the world’s most controversial plant. Because cannabidiol is subject to the same tight legal restrictions on personal and scientific use as is marijuana, its potential medical benefits have been underappreciated — at least up until now. (more…)