New Jersey -- There are many questions about which physicians are uncertain. One of them centers on the use of marijuana to treat illnesses. A measure pending in the state Legislature could authorize the use of medical marijuana to relieve symptoms in seriously ill patients.
The state would maintain a registry of people with debilitating medical conditions, such as HIV or AIDS, cancer and glaucoma. Photo identification cards would be issued to those on the registry, and they could possess a limited number of marijuana plants and usable marijuana.
Some in the medical profession believe marijuana, or medical cannabis, is useful in treating some diseases.
The Institute of Medicine conducted a study in 1999 that concluded smoking marijuana should not be considered a treatment for any specific disease due to the health risks, such as memory impairment, decreased lung function, impaired immune response and possible adverse effects on heart function.
However, researchers concluded doing so can ease nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety.
Researchers also determined the long-term risks of marijuana use are not of great concern to some patients, including those who are terminally ill or have debilitating symptoms.
Dr. David G. Ostrow, founder of the Medical Marijuana Policy Advocacy Project, is among those who believe marijuana could help those who are terminally ill or suffer from chronic pain.
He launched his effort in hopes of shedding more light on this perplexing situation.
"I think we have a long way to go in educating America's physicians, nurses and health care practitioners about the truth and usefulness of medical cannabis so that they will feel more comfortable using it," Ostrow said.
"This, I think, is the result of the misinformation and myths about marijuana and medical marijuana propagated by the U.S. government since the war on drugs began back in 1937," Ostrow added.
Dr. Ethan Russo, senior medial advisor at The Cannabinoid Research Institute, declared with much conviction that cannabis likely is better for treating some conditions in some patients.
"Most drugs approved by the FDA are not 'new and improved' but rather are 'me too' drugs that are similar to those already on the market," Russo said.
At this point, however, it doesn't look as though the medical profession as a whole is ready to declare that 'it's a go' on marijuana use.
It appears that the majority of people in the profession still oppose the use of medical marijuana, particularly in light of the lack of approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Howard Berger is a member and legislative chairman of the Atlantic County Senior Citizen Advisory Board.
Source: Hammonton News, The (NJ)
Author: Howard Berger
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