A doctor who specializes in addiction medicine has spoken out against Ohio’s medical cannabis plans. His primary objections are the psychoactive effects of THC, its potential for ‘addiction’ and the lack of absolutely conclusive medical evidence in favor of many of the applications that activists say it can help for.
The doctor makes no specific reference to CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is used by many parents of children whose epilepsy does not respond to conventional medication. However, he does say that there is “insufficient evidence” in favor of cannabis as a treatment for seizure disorders.
What the doctor says cannabinoids do treat
In his letter to the Columbus Dispatch, Dr. Matson points out that although medical cannabis has been widely studied, the only sufficiently proven applications it could be used for are chronic pain, neuropathic pain, nausea and illness-induced weight loss. He also point to some aspects of multiple sclerosis as responding well to cannabinoids.
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Herbs are ‘snake oil’ says doc
He refers to herbal components as ‘snake oil’ and notes that pharmaceuticals such as Marinol and Cesamet contain cannabinoids in carefully measured doses. He also observes that the placebo effect will have to be eliminated before the use of cannabis to treat seizures can be taken seriously.
This is an understandable observation, but fails to address cases of babies, most recently a two month old, responding well to cannabis in the form of CBD oil. However, this is still an ‘anecdotal’ form of evidence, and it is hoped that current studies will settle the matter once and for all.
The evils of addiction
It is the specter of addiction that troubles the doctor most. He says that most medical users will also use pot recreationally, increasing the risk of addiction. However, Psychology Today rates Marijuana as being only ‘mildly’ addictive and concludes that the legal status of marijuana is more threatening to users lifestyles than potential addiction.
The doctor also fears that medical cannabis laws will make access to marijuana easier for teens, and points to studies that show THC may increase the risk of teen psychosis. On the other side of the argument, there are reports that teen marijuana use has dropped in states with cannabis laws, possibly through disabling the black market and the introduction of strict regulation.
More road traffic deaths
The potential for an increased rate of road traffic accidents and fatalities raised by Dr. Matson may, present a very real danger. After all, high THC cannabis does cause a degree of cognitive impairment, and initial statistics from Oregon show a 20% increase in road deaths of late.
Canada is developing a breathalyzer that will help police to catch road users driving under the influence of THC, but introducing yet another substance that is linked to road accidents could prove tragic for those involved.
Let’s hear from you
Is herbal medicine ‘snake oil’? How would you rate the danger of addiction and road traffic deaths? Should all medical cannabis be prohibited on the grounds of these concerns? Should CBD and THC be tarred with the same brush?