Applied Evidence

Medical Cannabis: A guide to the clinical and legal landscapes

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Limiting patients to other medications that, potentially, carry a risk of more or greater harmful effects. An example is the decision to prescribe an opioid for chronic pain instead of certifying a patient for medical Cannabis. For certain other conditions, including chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, FDA-approved pharmaceuticals might have more reported serious adverse events and interactions than medical Cannabis.36

Resigning patients to obtain Cannabis from an illegal source. This speaks to harm reduction and social justice, because obtaining Cannabis from an illegal source carries health and legal risks:

  • Increased health risks result from lacing or cutting botanical or synthetic Cannabis products with potentially toxic substances. Cocaine, the rodenticide brodifacoum, methamphetamine, and phencyclidine are all known, or have been reported, to be added to botanical and synthetic Cannabis.37
  • Legal repercussions of Cannabis possession are disproportionately racially based, with a significantly higher arrest rate among people of color, even in states where medical Cannabis has been legalized.38

Lara Carson Weinstein, MD, MPH, DrPH, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, 1015 Walnut Street, Suite 401, Philadelphia, PA 19107;


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