Medical marijuana: Irresponsible medical care?



As we know, the active ingredient of marijuana, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has been available by prescription since 1985.1 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed a pill form to be prescribed for wasting related to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and for patients with terminal cancer.

And while the FDA can extend use of the pills to other conditions when scientific, evidence-based studies prove that they are effective, it has not done so. The reason? The evidence is lacking.

According to The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics (August 1, 2016), no adequate studies of cannabis (botanical marijuana) are available for such indications as cancer pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and neuropathic pain.1 Thus, I feel that there isn’t a need for “medical marijuana clinics,” which sell a product that isn’t regulated, is of unknown quality and strength, and may be dangerous or ineffective.

Illness should continue to be treated by health professionals employing scientific evidence. This is responsible policy. It is not appropriate or medically justified for family physicians to refer patients to medical marijuana clinics; instead, they should inform their patients that medical treatment must be based on scientific evidence.

Nayvin Gordon, MD
Oakland, Calif

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