On Wednesday, a Canadian judge struck down regulations restricting home-grow for medical marijuana patients and had some harsh words for the specialists who testified in the case. He said: “many ‘expert’ witnesses were so imbued with a belief for or against marijuana—almost a religious fervor—that the court had to approach such evidence with a significant degree of caution and skepticism.” Ouch.
Days later, a Canadian pain management specialist who prescribes medical marijuana took to the Canadian media to bust myths about the drug and how it is used. “We find that there’s no evidence of any addiction. There’s no evidence of people wanting harder drugs or anything else,” Dr. Paul Daeninck told CBC News.
Dr. Daeninck said that doctors shy away from the drug because of its illegal status, but noted its medical benefits. “We can actually decrease the amount of [opioid] painkillers people are using by using this [synthetic THC drug] nabilone,” he said.
Dr. Daeninck did not take the extreme position that marijuana is a cure-all, or right for everybody. He disputed the drug’s use in treating glaucoma, and explained why he doesn’t prescribe the drug to just anyone.
“There are some patients who are going to have great benefit. There are some who are not going to have benefit,” he said, adding that he screens his patients for psychosis and substance use disorders. “You actually have to spend time and talk to the patient and find out what it is that they’re looking for, and you have to bring them back and assess did this work, did this help, did it make your function better.”
Dr. Daeninck is not the only expert to emphasize that the benefits of medical marijuana should not be overstated. Yesterday in a Reddit AMA, addiction psychiatrist Dr. Kevin Hill said that extremism is affecting reform. “The biggest [hurdle to marijuana legalization] is probably a lack of education in part due to the fact that both sides of the debate present biased information,” he said, adding “I’d like to think that Reefer Madness would be a thing of the past, but some groups are still using scare tactics.”
Long story short: Marijuana has a mixture of useful and less useful properties for medical purposes. It won’t kill you, and it won’t cure your cancer, either.