Pubdate: Fri, 24 Oct 2014
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2014 The Palm Beach Post
Author: James E. Harrell
Note: James E. Harrell is an OBGYN with more than 30 years of 
practice in Stuart. He now volunteers with a local clinic. He wrote 
this for The Palm Beach Post.
Page: A15


Amendment 2, termed "Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions" 
on the November ballot, represents a classic case of creating 
medicine by public opinion, not by science and research.

And, I can assure you that in spite of the anecdotal stories claiming 
the amazing benefits of "medical marijuana" for everything from 
epilepsy and cancer to any "condition" a physician identifies, there 
is currently no scientific evidence that meets the peer-reviewed, 
statistically relevant level for both effectiveness and safety that 
prescription medications must meet in the United States today.

When conducting scientific research, there are various steps that any 
potential medication must go through to prove that it not only works 
but is safe, including the documentation of the potential benefits in 
patients, observational and scientific studies, laboratory and animal 
experiments, and human and double-blind studies to ensure accuracy.

With that said, the evidence on "medical marijuana" is very 
preliminary. While there are supporters of "medical marijuana" who 
tout studies that may lead someone to believe that they have "proved" 
the beneficial effects of marijuana, none of the studies I have seen 
have been statistically reliable in proving the effectiveness or 
safety for the treatment of the diseases specifically named in 
Amendment 2. In fact, as a whole, I believe they prove nothing.

Currently, what we do know is that there is some evidence that 
delta-9-THC, dronabinol and nabilone - all derivatives of THC - may 
benefit some patients with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, 
appetite stimulation in advanced cancers, and dietary problems seen 
in HIV and AIDS patients. Paradoxically, increased vomiting has been 
reported with repeated marijuana use.

There is also some evidence that cannabinoids, the non-euphoric 
component of marijuana, may benefit some patients with relieving 
pain, anxiety and sleep problems. And, there is anecdotal evidence 
that marijuana that is high in cannabidiol and low in THC may reduce 
seizures for children with severe epilepsy. This drug, also known as 
Charlotte's Web, is now available on a compassionate basis to 
children with two forms of epilepsy.

However, there is still insufficient safety and efficacy data 
available at this point to scientifically prove the benefits of 
marijuana, and the evidence demonstrating the adverse effects of 
marijuana is very strong. According to the prestigious New England 
Journal of Medicine ( June 5, 2014), the evidence is clear that the 
long-term use of marijuana use can lead to addiction, especially for 
young people and longterm users. Even the documented impact on brain 
development is startling, showing a significant decline in IQ , 
learning ability and memory.

And, if Amendment 2 passes, we can expect there to be many people who 
are basically running an "uncontrolled experiment" on themselves by 
taking marijuana, believing that it is safe because it is termed 
"medical." Many of them will even experience severe physical and 
emotional changes that could alter their lives, as well as their 
family and friends' lives, forever.

My plea is that before we create the "medicine" of marijuana by 
public opinion, let's first do the scientific research and clearly 
demonstrate that marijuana, or its derivatives, are actually an 
effective and safe treatment for a specific disease.

So, please join me, the seven former Florida Supreme Court justices, 
as well as numerous organizations and editorial boards across the 
state, who have said that Amendment 2 has no place in our state's 
constitution, and vote "No" on Amendment 2 this November.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom