Is Marijuana Medicine?

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Massachusetts voters in 2012 overwhelmingly approved a ballot question allowing patients to use marijuana for “debilitating medical conditions.” The vote represented a major departure from the nation’s usual way of creating testing, and approving medicines. Today, 23 states and the District of Columbia have approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes as of August, and more are likely to follow.

Given the public’s approval of the drug and the impending opening of medical marijuana dispensaries in the Commonwealth, the September edition of Physician Focus examines a basic question: Is marijuana medicine?

Alan Ehrlich, M.D., Senior Deputy Editor of DynaMed, a clinical reference tool created by physicians that examines medical articles for clinical relevance and scientific validity, and Kevin Hill, M.D., Director of the Substance Abuse Consultation Service in the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse at McLean Hospital in Belmont, join host John Fromson, M.D., Chief of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Boston, for the program.

The three physicians discuss the current evidence surrounding marijuana, the risks of taking the drug, and what patients should know about it if they are considering it for medicinal purposes.

Among the individual topics of conversation are how the Federal ban on the drug has impeded research on marijuana; the active ingredients of the drug; what medical conditions might be aided by taking marijuana; its potentially addictive properties; and steps patients should take if they are considering using marijuana as medicine.

Since the ballot question was presented in 2012, the subject of medical marijuana has received enormous attention, by advocates on both sides of the issue and by the media covering it. This edition of Physician Focus sets asides the competing advocacy claims and looks at the existing evidence on marijuana when used for medicinal purposes.

Please join us on Physician Focus for a timely discussion about marijuana as medicine.

Photo: From left, John Fromson, M.D., Alan Ehrlich, M.D., Kevin Hill, M.D.