Doctors Divided on Medical Pot
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Doctors Divided on Medical Pot
Posted by CN Staff on June 01, 2009 at 07:56:56 PT
By Laura Griffith, The Telegraph
Source: The Telegraph
Illinois -- Some medical professionals are at odds as to whether medical marijuana would offer a viable treatment option for patients with extreme pain and nausea. Others say working with the drug would be more of a moral or comfort issue.Doctors in oncology and infectious diseases have access to a drug called Marinol, or synthetic THC, to help cancer and AIDS patients with extreme pain and symptoms consistent with "wasting syndrome."
The THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, is meant to help with pain and/or stimulate a patient's appetite and encourage weight gain. Some doctors swear by it, and others say it's not always the answer."This (legislation) is critically important for the simple fact that it gives options to people," said Dr. Eric Christoff, an internist and HIV specialist in the Chicago area. "The point is, people will have strikingly different reactions that are expected and not expected with certain drugs."Christoff did not travel to Springfield in person but submitted written testimony supporting Senate Bill 1381, which is waiting to come to a vote in the Illinois House.He said he believes his peers in Northern Illinois generally would be receptive to the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, although not all would be comfortable personally prescribing it.Having heard from patients who have used marijuana on their own and becoming familiar with the effects, Christoff said he wouldn't have a problem looking to medical marijuana as an option for his patients."I actually prescribe Marinol quite a bit in my practice. Marinol is usually used to stimulate appetite in some patients," he said. "It works in some people. For the people it doesn't work for, it causes nausea or can also make people sleepy, tired, sluggish, which can also happen with marijuana."Dr. Mark Woodson with Hematology-Oncology Consultants in Alton and St. Louis agreed that expanded treatment options would be a plus."There are medications out there now to help with pain and nausea, all which have potential side effects," Woodson said. "I've used Marinol. I've seen mixed results. For select patients with careful monitoring, (medical marijuana) could be quite beneficial in my cancer patients."In patients who marijuana helped and Marinol did not, Woodson said inhalation of the drug may have played a part in feeling the effects faster.Should medical marijuana become legal, Woodson said while the drug would not be his first option, he would include it in a list of options given to his patients.A lot comes down to whether a physician feels comfortable prescribing marijuana or whether a patient feels comfortable taking the drug, he said."A lot of elderly patients would probably be more reluctant, due to the stigma of marijuana," he said. "I think, for the most part, people are waiting to see what happens. I foresee that use in the Alton area would be very small - oncologists, infectious disease specialists."Dr. J. William Campbell, an infectious disease specialist at St. Luke's Hospital in St. Louis who uses Marinol with HIV patients, said the issue of medical marijuana legalization raises a number of questions, including whether smoked marijuana actually is better than what's available currently or whether patients who are seeing results simply are taking more.He expressed concerns that dosage amounts aren't as easily measured as with drugs like Marinol. A prescribed form of THC (Marinol) allows doctors to control how many milligrams a patient is ingesting, whereas patients growing their own plants would not.Dr. John Hoelscher, a board-certified addictionologist in Alton, is opposed to legalization."I think it's a terrible idea," he said. "The supposed medical benefits of marijuana are mainly glaucoma treatment and nausea treatment. There are far better treatments for glaucoma and nausea than marijuana. There's no reason to have to resort to marijuana."Hoelscher stands firm that medical marijuana is not a needed drug. He said there are stronger, well-regulated, dependable medications that can be used to treat patients instead.He also said marijuana inhalation is "not a predictable way of getting medicine."Hoelscher said that especially now, while marijuana is illegal, there is no way of telling how much THC is in the leaves or whether the marijuana is contaminated with other drugs.Government regulation would decrease that chance, he said, but every plant still is different, so dosage would be difficult to tell."It's medically absurd to think you can have a medical prescription when you don't know what dose you're giving," he said.As with other drugs, Hoeslcher said marijuana has its own negative side effects."It's not technically addictive, but certainly, there are some people that are habitual users," he said. "It has detrimental effects on their psychological function in some cases."Jamie Clayton, an AIDS patient from Grafton, has been supporting the bill as a private citizen and as a patient who would be affected by medical marijuana legalization.Clayton, who has participated in FDA-approved studies and appeared in a documentary on the subject entitled "Waiting to Inhale" -- -- can see that while some patients would be willing to try the drug to get some relief, others would have a problem crossing their own moral boundaries."Everyone has their own opinion," he said.Clayton stresses the importance of education on the matter and making one's own decisions, rather than persuading people to think one way or another.In previous interviews, he has expressed the importance of giving options to patients such as himself."It may not be the magic bullet, (but) I would like to be able to use cannabis," he said in a previous interview. "If it's out there, and it's therapeutic, then I want to be able to include it in my therapy."Both Clayton and state Sen. William Haine, D-Alton, the sponsor of SB 1381, are pleased with the bill's progress so far."Everybody's talking about it," Clayton said. "If we weren't hearing about it, I would be afraid.""It shows that Illinois is a civilized, compassionate and mature state," Haine said.Opponents are appalled."It appears that the medical marijuana bill is going to be run through the House in an unusual manner," Judy Kreamer of Educating Voices Inc. wrote in an e-mail to fellow opponents, asking them to voice their displeasure to House members.Kreamer wrote that a vote was expected on Sunday.Should the bill become law, Illinois would join 13 other states that have such measures in place.With a doctor's prescription and identification card from the Illinois Department of Public Health, eligible patients would be allowed a small number of plants or two ounces of the dried drug."This is a popular and sensible thing to do. There's just not a lot of reason to oppose it," said advocate Bruce Mirken with the Marijuana Policy Project.Editor's Note: This is the second in a two-part series regarding pending legislation on the legalization of medical marijuana in Illinois.Source: Alton Telegraph, The (IL)Author: Laura Griffith, The TelegraphPublished: May 31, 2009Copyright: 2009 The TelegraphContact: telegraph thetelegraph.comWebsite: http://www.thetelegraph.comURL: Articles:Sides Split Over Medical Marijuana Bill Marijuana Pilot Gets OK From State Senate
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on June 03, 2009 at 04:44:16 PT
What has President Obama done that upsets you? I think he is doing a fine job. He called off the raids and that is a good step forward. If McCain had become President would we have gotten this far? I couldn't be happier to have a man with his intelligence trying to fix our country. 
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Comment #9 posted by afterburner on June 02, 2009 at 22:33:30 PT
Sam Adams #1 
It's not too late. {
Sign the Health Revolution Petition.
Join the call for genuine health freedom in America. End FDA tyranny and Big Pharma corruption. Watch the video and sign the petition here. Authorship Credit:
This petition was authored and organized by Mike Adams, editor of, with the considerable help and input of many health freedom attorneys and advocates, including Scott Tips, Bill Faloon, Jonathan Emord, Jim Turner and Byron Richards. The Consumer Wellness Center thanks all the individuals who took part in creating this petition, and keeping it aligned with the principles of liberty and freedom. 
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Comment #8 posted by cliff on June 02, 2009 at 21:46:32 PT
Marijuana Rivals Mainstream Drugs For Alleviating Rivals Mainstream Drugs For Alleviating HIV/AIDS SymptomsScienceDaily (May 29, 2009) — Those in the United States living with HIV/AIDS are more likely to use marijuana than those in Kenya, South Africa or Puerto Rica to alleviate their symptoms, according to a new study published in Clinical Nursing Research, published by SAGE. Those who did use marijuana rate it as effective as prescribed or over the counter (OTC) medicines for the majority of common symptoms, once again raising the issue that therapeutic marijuana use merits further study and consideration among policy makers.......The question of the use of marijuana for symptom management when legal drugs are available remains a practice and policy issue.“Given that marijuana may have other pleasant side effects and may be less costly than prescribed or OTC drugs, is there a reason to make it available?” asks study leader Inge Corless. “These are the political ramifications of our findings. Our data indicate that the use of marijuana merits further inquiry.”---------
link for the rest.
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Comment #7 posted by juztbudz on June 02, 2009 at 21:42:36 PT:
It is a shame
that President Obama talks a good game, i.e. scientific based decisions on things, yet have there been any moves to do science based studies on cannabis therapy vs. the marinol? I am sure that the plant is much more efficient medicine in nearly every case. The marinol simply does not contain the 70 or so cannabinoids that interact with the human brain to ease pain, making it much less effective. Marinol pills are of a set dosage, making it to strong for some, to weak for others, vaporizing the plant allows the patient to be able to self titrate, getting exactly what they need.
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Comment #6 posted by EAH on June 01, 2009 at 16:11:51 PT:
Policy making by non experts
"Hoelscher said that especially now, while marijuana is illegal, there is no way of telling how much THC is in the leaves or whether the marijuana is contaminated with other drugs."This is nothing but ignorance. The green plant material has no THC or related compounds. Those are produced and exist only in the resin glands, which are concentrated in and around the flowers. Dosages required very widely from person to person depending on numerous factors. Vapor inhalation allows the user to gauge the effects and dose accordingly. Cannabis plant material, such as the dried flowers, does not "get contaminated by other drugs". That is not a valid concern.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on June 01, 2009 at 14:17:35 PT
The Cost of Marinol versus The Natural Plant
Money is a very big issue with people particularly these days. Marijuana can be grown for very little cost if grown outside and Marinol must be purchased and is very expensive. If people could grow their own the money savings for the sick person would be enormous. A person can buy other psychoactive medicinal herbs without spending a fortune so why not Cannabis?
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Comment #4 posted by ekim on June 01, 2009 at 14:10:14 PT
Marinol 100 % THC 
Hoelscher said that especially now, while marijuana is illegal, there is no way of telling how much THC is in the leaves 
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Comment #3 posted by EAH on June 01, 2009 at 12:36:40 PT:
It's an herb, not a drug
Many Western doctors are unable to cope with the imprecise nature of herbs. For some reason though it is perfectly legal to use countless other herbs in Chinese medicine. No doubt some of these physicians might object to them too but at least people have the choice. Arguments regarding the use of cannabis seem to quickly devolve to petty concerns and issues to which no other substance is held.One concern I have is that the focus on the medical use issue effectively shuts out the more fundamental issue that would address the subject far more comprehensively, total reform of federal and state cannabis laws. Why not tackle the whole mess? Of course legalization for medical purposes is urgently needed but that struggle usually results in an unnecessarily arbitrary and inadequate set regulations that leaves major problems unaddressed.It's sad and frustrating to think that so many objections are based on falsehoods. We not only have the threshold of normal institutional intransigence to overcome but we also are faced with the closed minds of determined "believers" of myths.
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Comment #2 posted by Question Authority on June 01, 2009 at 11:52:30 PT
Pill pushers against natural cannabis, what's new?
Why is it OK for some patients to have 2 ounces of weed, but no more? Does having 3 oz mean they are no longer sick, but using it only for recreation? What a load of o' crap.MDs like this guy are mean-spirited, picayune, mendacious pharisees trying to protect their empires.Marijuana has many medical uses, to try and limit its uses to "glaucoma and nausea" is small-minded at best.
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on June 01, 2009 at 09:26:28 PT
does this sound familiar? we didn't listen to Dr. Rush.“Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship to restrict the art of healing to one class of men and deny equal privileges to others: The Constitution of this Republic should make a special privilege for medical freedom as well as religious freedom.”-Dr. Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence
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