Reason.tv: No Accepted Medical Use? Three Perspectives on Medical Cannabis

The U.S. government classifies marijuana—along with heroin and LSD—as a Schedule I drug, the most tightly restricted category of drugs in the United States. According to the federal government, Schedule I drugs are unsafe and have "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States."

Really?

As medical marijuana proponents have pointed out since the Controlled Substances Act was passed by Congress in 1970, cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and there has never been a reported case of a marijuana overdose. Moreover, in recent years clinical researchers around the world have demonstrated the medicinal value of cannabis.

We talked to a doctor, a pharmacist, and a patient to get three firsthand perspectives on medical cannabis. Special thanks to Dr. Donald Abrams, JoAnna LaForce and Don Grubbs.

Approximately 10 minutes. Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning.

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  • Timothy Dexter||

    "there has never been a reported case of a marijuana overdose."

    I think George Michael being sentenced to 8 weeks in prison for driving his car into a building while high on weed comes awfully close.

  • The Gobbler||

    Damn joke names.

  • Kristen||

    Yes, Timothy Dexter, but do you fuck sheep? Do you? DO YOU?

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    You really think that's an "overdose"? Are you high?

  • Ray Pew||

    "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States."

    This statement is purely propaganda, not science. It is only correct in the context of "accepted" by the government.

  • ||

    Friendly point of order...It would be more accurate to say that marijuana has never caused a fatal (or lethal) overdose.

    It's certainly possible to "overdose" on marijuana. Subsequent symptoms include increased desire to giggle, to listen to good music,to taste good food, to massage friendly body parts, to take a nap and of course taste some more good food.

  • Cap'n NoStar||

    Which is why pot brownies are habit forming.

  • ||

    "Good" music needs some disclaimers.

    What about potheads that listen to phish?

    Shouldn't spontaneous appreciation of phish be listed as a negative side effect of pot?

  • Kristen||

    I have never appreciated Phish, high or not.

  • ||

    Having watched this, I'm crying because I will forever kick myself for not making my dad copious amounts of pot brownies when he was wasting away at the end of his life. I know that he would have at least felt better, and maybe even gained some weight and lived longer.

  • ||

    U.S. PATENT# 6630507 LOOK IT UP!

  • ||

    Threadjack...

    In Minneapolis, former President Bill Clinton said the Republican Party was pushing out pragmatic voices in favor of candidates that make former President Bush "look like a liberal."

    Which isn't a particularly hard thing to do...and that's the whole point, Bill.

  • ||

    If you look at what happens to Mel Gibson when he consumes alchohol, it seems like substituting marijuana instead might help him keep it together. If he and his ex would just sit down a smoke a joint together, possibly they could settle out of court.

  • ||

    You know who else preferred marijuana over alcohol?

  • Cap'n NoStar||

    THERE IS NO MEDICAL USE FOR MARIJUANA!

    This is SETTLED science, just like global warming.

    I do remember getting stoned with a guy who glaucoma. About the time I could barely see, he started making out shadows and bright lights.

  • Cap'n NoStar||

    The guy HAD glaucoma. Thirty years later and the dope still affects my ability to form a coherent sentence.

  • George Voinovich, M.D.||

    Back when I was Governor of Ohio, I vetoed a bill that would have re-legalized medical marijuana in Ohio. No f'ng way would I let doctors prescribe it, for I know best!

  • ||

    Well of course there are no "accepted" medical uses for pot. They're the fuckers that define the word accepted and also the ones which must approve any substance for said acceptance.

    What's sad is the overwhelming amount of evidence supporting medicinal marijuana's benefits and the FDA's stubbornness in refusing to recognize something that has obvious benefits.....just ask most members of the AMA.

    It seems more to me like they don't want to admit they were wrong for all of these years. It's more about saving face and keeping power than a battle of right and wrong.

  • Patriot Mike||

    Exactly. It's a "Because I said so!" policy.

  • waffles||

    marijuana ruined my life!

  • The Gobbler||

    No. I'm going to say birth.

  • Stephen||

    It's bizarre that they argue that there's no accepted medical use for heroin when the UK has been using "diamorphine" as both a painkiller and a maintenance treatment for years. I believe Switzerland also prescribes it to addicts.

  • ||

    Plus, heroin is broken down to morphine in our blood. There is no way to discern a positive heroin test from a positive morphine test, since the physiological mechanism is identical. There is no fundamental difference between heroin and morphine in terms of effects on the brain and body.

  • Braid Woot||

    Reason loves to use music from Braid...

  • Alice Bowie||

    Keep Dope Alive

  • ||

    Quick note: I am a physician, and I think that the potential positive benefits vastly outweigh the drawbacks.

    However, I have come across a handful of cases where patients using only marijuana, from trusted sources, did develop panic attacks/panic disorder after using marijuana, with recurrence of panic attacks when they tried smoking it again. I have also seen a few (less than 5, probably) patients who developed significant psychotic symptoms (hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thoughts and behavior) while smoking marijuana (again, from trusted sources).

    It is far more likely to see people who have problems with marijuana due to other mixed in substances--PCP and Crack (both of which can be referred to as "fry"), formaldehyde, and strong hallucinogens being most common.

    In the ER I once treated a man whose sister brought him in--he was almost catatonic, with no psychiatric history. I spent a good amount of time talking with his sister getting history. Next morning, she was in the next bed over, having gone home and smoked his pot. We had two other cases come around the same time--never did find out what was in the pot that did it.

    Point is, my general experience as a physician treating patients using marijuana is that marijuana is probably better tolerated than just about anything else out there. Misinformation about the drug is rampant, and a huge obstacle to overcome.

    P.S. I have prescribed a number of antidepressants and antianxiety medications in my time in medicine. I agree with Bill Maher's line:"Prozac doesn't want to go head to head with Marijuana, because it will lose." Or something to that effect.

    P.P.S. I've never actually tried it myself. Can't stand smoke, actually. This is an endorsement of rethinking marijuana from someone who has no personal interest in the drug.

  • Apogee||

    Misinformation about the drug is rampant, and a huge obstacle to overcome.

    And the realization that it was fueled mostly by the government is partially responsible for my desire to see government cut dramatically.

    Government is a scam to steal funds and the people in government will do anything to continue the payments.

  • Deathportal||

    The last time I ever smoked marijuana, I had a scary incident not unlike what you mentioned with panic attacks. They haunted me for years following. What I think happened was that the weed was laced...with what, I don't know, but I'd never been the least bit paranoid in all the times I smoked before.

    That said, I STILL advocate complete legalization of marijuana. I truly don't believe marijuana caused those problems--I believe it was something else. And regardless, even if it did, I would be in the vast minority of people who had negative episodes compared with all the people it would help. There will always be someone who reacts negatively to something.

  • Pooped Culture||

    James,

    There are some small studies that show that marijuana smoking may cause panic attacks, OCD-like symptoms and even psychosis. As a physician, do you think it's safe to say that the person who experiences this already has a propensity for it, and that the marijuana simply triggered the inevitable?

  • ||

    There is a study that showed that marijuana use was associated with earlier onset of Schizophrenia, and not a higher frequency of Schizophrenia, suggesting that the marijuana doesn't itself cause the disorder, but rather reveals a vulnerability for developing it.

    I don't know whether we could generalize that to other anxiety problems. The patient that I saw the longest who had marijuana induced panic had a simple cure--he stopped marijuana, and never had another panic attack. For him, it was a direct effect of the marijuana itself that triggered the panic.

  • ||

    Being a mild hallucinogen, it shouldn't be surprising that cannabis can set off the occasional "bad trip" just like a stronger hallucinogen can. If you look at the systems, pot-related anxiety attacks are not much different than bad trips from LSD or psilocybin.

    The fact of the matter is that some people just don't have that much fun when they get stoned. Which, like you pointed out, says absolutely nothing about how we should treat the substance as a matter of public policy.

  • ||

    If you look at the systems symptoms....

    FTFM.

  • Terr||

    When I was smoking weed in college, I discovered two medical uses for it. Weed, for me, was a great sleep aid and also helped get rid of headaches. Shut the fuck up, government.

  • Suprashoesweb||

  • mike||

  • PabloKoh||

    The largest problem with cannabis is tie-die.

  • Patriot Mike||

    Let's all use the correct term, "re-legalize". It was legal until about 1914, when the Progressives started remaking our Republic into their Democracy cesspool.

  • ||

    Let's all not get hung up on semantics. I mean, yes; cannabis was legally used here for well over a hundred years and was a well-established part of the US Pharmacopoeia. But the term "legalize" is close enough for me.

  • zman||

    "cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and there has never been a reported case of a marijuana overdose"

    Whoa now, lets not be too hasty. Mud and sticks were used medically for thousands of years as well, and I think the medical usefulness (or lack thereof) of these is pretty well established.

    Similarly, dancing, bleeding a patient, and horse riding have all at some point been considered "medical treatment."

    Just because something is old doesn't make it good science.

    (not that marijuana may not have some medical properties, but saying that it's effective because people used it before is illogical).

  • ||

    Sometimes when I read an ignorant comment such as yours, I am thinking to myself, Do these people really believe that they know more than the American Medical Association and the Institute of Medicine both of whom are in favor of Medicinal Cannabis? Have you ever heard of a 1988 Administrative Law Judge's recommendation to reschedule Cannabis from a Schedule one substance? The Judge commented (very properly, I might add), that "marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man". The DEA simply refused to comply with the Judge's recommendation. Did you know that Cannabis is less physically addictive than Caffeine? Probably not. Have you heard of the most recent scientific study which declared the so-called "gateway drug" theory "half-baked", because it is totally false? I doubt you heard of this either. Well, how about this: the scientific research is demonstrating that Cannabis can actually serve as an exit substance that may help recovering alcoholics/hard drug addicts to stay off those dangerous substances. There is no question, and it is even admitted that alcohol is much more dangerous than Cannabis, and yet it is legal. At the same time Cannabis plant possesses remarkable medicinal properties, and I suggest you acquaint yourself with them. Please educate yourself with the existing literature on the subject, not "dogmas", because you seem to be dangerously misinformed about these issues!

  • ||

    Opposition to the Medicinal Cannabis is both reprehensible and ignorant. Those who oppose Medicinal Cannabis should be really ashamed of themselves. There were several scientific studies published just recently that confirmed Cannabis effectiveness in such diverse conditions as chronic pain, muscle spasms, malnutrition and glaucoma. Just a couple of days ago the media, including "USA Today", published a study that Cannabis may relieve chronic pain even when other drugs don't. This is extremely important for our wounded veterans, many of whom have chronic pain, and even chronic "neuropathic" pain, for which Medicinal Cannabis was found to be especially effective! Cannabis is also being shown by the most current addiction medicine research as a potential "exit" substance for former alcoholics, hard drug or even prescription drug abusers to help them stay off those substances. A very recent study just published called the so-called "gateway drug" theory "half-baked". I simply always called it a fantasy. Both the American Medical Association and the Institute of Medicine are in favor of Medicinal Cannabis, and the Canadian Government even pays for this natural remedy for their veterans! There is growing evidence that Cannabis may help prevent such disastrous conditions as cancer and Alzheimer's disease, and a very recent study just published denies any connection between smoking Cannabis and the risk for lung cancer! According to the prestigious Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook, 4-th Edition, Cannabis use suppresses violent behavior and "only the unsophisticated" think otherwise. Everybody agrees as well that Cannabis is much safer than alcohol! It is also much safer than many dangerous, physically addictive prescription drugs, such as opiates or benzodiazepines.What we all need to do is reject baseless, anti-scientific scare tactics of the "opponents" and pass the Medicinal Cannabis legislation all across the Nation, and on the Federal level! This will require giving up certain "dogmas", but this is how progress is made!

    

  • boylls||

    Those who oppose Medicinal Cannabis should be really ashamed of themselves. There were several scientific studies published just recently that confirmed Cannabis effectiveness in such diverse conditions as chronic pain, muscle spasms, malnutrition and glaucoma. Just a couple of days ago the media, including "USA Today", published a study that Cannabis may relieve chronic pain even when other drugs don't. This is extremely important for our wounded veterans, many of whom have chronic pain, and even chronic "neuropathic" pain, for which Medicinal Cannabis was found to be especially effective! Cannabis is also being shown by the most current addiction medicine research as a potential "exit" substance for former alcoholics, hard drug or even prescription drug abusers to help them stay off those substances. A very recent study just published called the so-called "gateway drug" theory "half-baked". I simply always called it a fantasy. monk dvdBoth the American Medical Association and the Institute of Medicine are in favor of Medicinal Cannabis, and supernatural dvdthe Canadian Government even pays for this natural remedy for their veterans!

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