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The case for being open-minded about medical marijuana



Medical indications for cannabis in various states include 53 conditions, he said, such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. However, data suggest that most people with medical cannabis cards do not have one of those conditions. More than 50 trials of cannabinoids, including cannabis, have been conducted, “and we definitely need a lot more,” Dr. Hill continued. “About half of the studies show positive effects for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity associated with MS.”

Resources Dr. Hill recommended for clinicians include a review that he published in JAMA (2015;313[24]:2474-83), and a review of cannabis and pain that he coauthored that was published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research (2017;2[1]:96-104), and a free downloadable publication from he National Academies Press entitled “Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research.” One passage from that document reads as follows: “Despite the extensive changes in policy at the state level and the rapid rise in the use of cannabis both for medical purposes and for recreational use, conclusive evidence regarding the short- and long-term health effects (harms and benefits) of cannabis use remains elusive. A lack of scientific research has resulted in a lack of information on the health implications of cannabis use, which is a significant public health concern for vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and adolescents. Unlike other substances whose use may confer risk, such as alcohol or tobacco, no accepted standards exist to help guide individuals as they make choices regarding the issues of if, when, where, and how to use cannabis safely and, in regard to therapeutic uses, effectively.”

Dr. Hill disclosed that he has received research grants from National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, the American Lung Association, the Greater Boston Council on Alcoholism, and the Peter G. Dodge Foundation. He also receives book royalties from Hazelden Publishing.

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