Medical Marijuana Revisited

Medical Marijuana Revisited

My main objection is our governments’ allowing legalized marijuana for “medical use” in ways that are prompts and successive approximations to increased rates of generalized population use of marijuana for recreational purposes. When this happens there will be an increase in rates of marijuana use among children and adolescents.

I hope you will read the comments by Brice Petgen on the right side-bar of this blog for the context of my continued discussion of this topic. Brice, I am in agreement with most of what you have so well written.

Giving permission to grow one’s own pot plants to some specified number, even for legitimate medical purposes, is a prescription for disaster. This cannot be controlled and “medical marijuana” will be harvested and sold for profit, or given, to those who have no legitimate medical needs. Furthermore, it sends a message of general acceptance to your youth. This was the point of the disturbing case study that I described in my previous post on this topic.

An article in Monitor On Psychology (June 2010, Vol. 41, No 6) entitled Medicine or Menace? provided a balanced account of this medical marijuana issue.

Research indicates that approximately 10% of those using marijuana develop marijuana dependence. The “2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that among people who had used heroin in the past year, 45.4 percent met the criteria for dependence. Among those who had smoked cigarettes in the past year, 35.3 percent were dependent on nicotine, and 20.4 percent of past-year cocaine users were dependent. The analysis included in Chapter 22 of ‘Psychiatry Third Edition, Volume 1 ‘(Wiley, 2008) that 9.7 percent of people who used cannabis met criteria for dependence. Among past year alcohol users, 4.9 percent met criteria for dependence.”

If medical use of marijuana proceeds in ways that stimulate increased recreational use of marijuana, the absolute number of those dependent upon this drug will, in my view, certainly increase. In my private practice, I too often see the life-ruining results in families and children caused by marijuana use. Currently about 6 percent of our youth “12 years and older have used marijuana in the last month.”

“About 4.2 million people are dependent on or abuse marijuana, almost twice the number of prescription drug abusers and three times the number of cocaine abusers, says Joseph Gfroerer, director of SAMHSA’s Division of Population Surveys.”

The principle active ingredient in Marijuana is THC, which has been FDA approved in medication form (as opposed to the smoked variety). This medication has been found effective for a variety of legitimate applications (pain, nausea, stimulating appetite, and more). Smoking the marijuana weed introduces the unnecessary risks of smoking. I have read that one marijuana cigarette is equal to 20 tobacco cigarettes in terms of its health risks.

I do not object to legitimate M.D. prescribed THC medication controlled and dispensed through pharmacies for appropriate medical applications.

I do object to the explosive growth of pot-shops selling “designer pot” in all flavors and mixtures under the fraudulent guise of “medical marijuana”. I do object to “prescribed memberships” in the “medical marijuana home growers association”. All of this will do is catalyze a national behavioral contagion of drug dependence and abuse.

All of that would be just another dumb-assed self-driven nail in our American coffin.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D. 6/17/10

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