Over the last decade, cannabis has had a moment. Thirty-six states and Washington D.C. have legalized it for medical use. (Fifteen states, plus D.C., have also legalized weed recreationally.) Altogether, about 5.5 million people in the U.S. now have medical marijuana cards.
One of the primary arguments for expanding marijuana laws is the drug’s potential usefulness for medical treatments. While each state has its own rules for which conditions are eligible, issues like chronic pain are nearly universally accepted as a reason for using medical marijuana.
But there’s still a large divide between the traditional medical establishment and the cannabis industry. Cannabis is still illegal federally, and a recent study showed that many clinicians feel they don’t know enough about medical marijuana to make a recommendation to patients. This in turn impacts how patients feel about talking to their doctor about using cannabis to treat medical conditions.
What You Said
We asked our listeners if they use marijuana to help with medical conditions, and if they’ve talked to their doctor about it. Listen to a few of those responses below.
If you want to respond to our questions, and potentially have your voice featured on-air, download our SciFri Voxpop app.
Braedon from Illinois: Last year I was a passenger in a really bad car accident. I pretty much fractured or shattered bones in every one of my limbs, as well as my pelvis. And four of my vertebrae. I was in a position where I was able to receive some really compassionate care from some people who had access to full-spectrum THC products, just to help me sleep at night, as well as products that helped me function throughout the day. I never had to deal with constipation of being on hard drugs while I was recovering. Using cannabis helped me immensely. And I’ve seen so many of my friends end up in this position where the doctor keeps prescribing and over prescribing any kind of medication that might actually have a way worse of effect.
Kate from Chicago, Illinois: When I told my doctor that I was going to get the medical marijuana, she said, “Good. I’ve been telling all my patients go with the medical marijuana because you don’t know what you’re doing to your body by taking all these other drugs.” I felt good about that. But because medical marijuana is expensive, I really can’t afford it. I wish that the doctors would say, hey, insurance companies, pay for this medication, because it does work for our patients.
Craig from Oakland, California: In 2003, I was diagnosed with HIV and I began medication immediately. In the first three months, I lost a pound a week. So I switched over to real marijuana and began growing my own. But I was surprised that my doctor was reluctant to sign off on all the paperwork because he was afraid that he would get in trouble. California passed its medical marijuana law in 1996. And I found it amazing that my doctor was still scared of actually complying with its terms in the year 2003.
Joining Ira to talk about the ins and outs of connecting cannabis to the larger medical establishment are Dr. Ziva Cooper, research director for UCLA’s Cannabis Research Initiative in San Francisco, California, and Dr. Donald Abrams, integrative oncologist and professor emeritus at University of California San Francisco’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.
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