CANNABIS: LEGALIZATION AND SERIOUS MEDICINE
The push for legalization of cannabis has brought concerns over recreational use to the forefront of discussion. According to the latest Gallup Poll approximately 13% of the US population uses cannabis. While this number is less than the percentage of Americans who use tobacco or alcohol, it represents significant tax income to the States that have approved legalization.
With legalization, adults are able to enter a dispensary and purchase cannabis products without a physician’s recommendation for a qualifying condition. For those with a medical condition, this is similar to going into a pharmacy and purchasing an over the counter medicine to address a medical issue. While you may be able to ask someone behind the counter about what may be the best “medicine” for your condition, the person behind the counter is most likely not a doctor and is not qualified to recommend treatment for serious or chronic medical conditions.
So like those that enter a pharmacy and purchase a product to treat their condition, only to have it not be effective, they need to seek qualified medical advice for the appropriate therapy. Physicians who recommend cannabis medicines to treat serious and chronic medical conditions have developed significant dosing information, which is invaluable for developing effective therapies.
For those of us treating serious illness, patient follow up, data collection and analysis, and ongoing research in a medical and analytic manner is a daily requirement. The recreational use of cannabis has little incentive for research and patient follow up.
As I think about these points, I have come to understand that the problem in fact has been, in large part, the lack of doctors devoted to cannabis medicine. Sure, there are a few of us that have dedicated our practices to dosed cannabis therapies, however, we are few and far between and I regularly provide educational consultations to individuals in legal states.
As we move to the future, I hope more physicians and patients will become comfortable with cannabis as a medicine and a valuable therapeutic tool. If you have questions about cannabis therapy, please call my office at 310-393-0640 to set up a consultation.