Pubdate: Sat, 11 Oct 2014
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2014 The Palm Beach Post
Author: Jeff Ostrowski
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Physicians Warn Push for Medical Pot Touts Safety Without

WEST PALM BEACH - Physicians fret that voters view marijuana as a
harmless substance that might even be a cure-all.

The reality, several South Florida doctors said Friday, is that
marijuana is little studied and barely understood.

"The science is very thin," Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger, a family
physician in Aventura, said at an event sponsored by the Palm Beach
County Medical Society.

Florida voters will decide Nov. 4 whether to follow 20 states that
have legalized medical marijuana.

If 60 percent of voters approve Amendment 2, Floridians will be able
to buy weed, with a doctor's permission - despite the dearth of
rigorous studies that accompany other drugs.

Wollschlaeger said he has prescribed Marinol, a synthetic version of
THC that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

But he opposes the use of medical cannabis until it's studied by
scientists and approved by the FDA.

For now, he said, cannabis supporters are touting the drug as safe and
useful, even if they have no proof.

"There is a minimizing of risk, and a hyping of benefits,"
Wollschlaeger said.

Dr. Abbey Strauss, a psychiatrist in Boca Raton, also worries about
the potential dangers of broader pot use.

He said 9 percent of marijuana users are treated for addiction, and
chronic use can damage brain chemistry in a way that causes apathy.

"You're pushing the dopamine system, and the dopamine system becomes
non-reactive to the marijuana," Strauss said.

Not all doctors are opposed to pot.

One speaker at Friday's event, Dr. Ray McKnight of Key West, urged
doctors to support Amendment 2. He pointed to several patients who
managed pain and spasms by smoking marijuana.

"Patients should not be criminalized for access to a medicine that is
helping them with their disease," McKnight said.
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