Pubdate: Sat, 24 May 2014
Source: Leader-Herald, The (NY)
Copyright: 2014 - The Leader Herald
Author: Arielle Gerard


The recent letter to the editor titled "Marijuana a medicine for N.Y.
to avoid" contains misinformation that is necessary to correct.

Medical cannabis is a treatment option with a low risk of dependence,
a low side-effect profile, and minimal detrimental health effects. The
Compassionate Care Act is a highly regulated bill which will allow for
use of medical cannabis for certain patients in New York state, with
multiple safeguards against diversion, including mandatory procurement
of patient identification cards and utilization of I-STOP.

The state Senate's version of the CCA limits the conditions for which
medical cannabis can be recommended. The term "serious condition" is
not "vague," as stated in the letter. Additionally, special
circumstances for suffering patients are not "loopholes." If we trust
providers to prescribe medications like opiates - which have high
abuse potential and cause thousands of deaths - we should trust them
to prescribe medical cannabis responsibly (death by cannabis overdose
is virtually impossible).

The letter states 2.05 percent of medical cannabis users in California
have a recommendation for AIDS, glaucoma or cancer and that "an
extremely high number of people were using 'medical' marijuana for
other purposes." This percentage does not include patients using
medical cannabis for conditions such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy,
neuropathy, etc. Additionally, the California system is far less
regulated than the system that will be formed in New York if the CCA
is passed.

Legal medications made from synthetic, isolated THC (e.g. Marinol) are
largely inadequate in comparison to the whole plant. THC in the
absence of other cannabinoids can be extremely anxiety-inducing; other
cannabinoids in cannabis produce many of its health benefits and
effects are felt much more slowly (and dynamic dose requirements are
therefore more difficult to control) than in inhaled form. Low to
moderate use of cannabis in smoked form does not decrease lung function.

A recent study showed that medical cannabis legalization does not
increase crime, and in some cases may decrease crime. Regulation of
medical cannabis access also has the potential to decrease illicit
substance use and drug trafficking.

Double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trials, observational
studies, and numerous case studies have shown the medical efficacy of
whole plant cannabis-based medicine (oils, extracts, smoke, vapor,

The views expressed in this letter are mine and do not necessarily
represent the views of the medical school I attend or its affiliated


MD candidate, Albany
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