A June 2014 report by Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission Medical Director, Dr Charles Meredith, has drawn attention to some of the consequences of legalising marijuana for medicinal use.
Washington was among the first US states to legalise medical marijuana 16 years ago – and Meredith notes that he now passes more medical marijuana dispensaries than gas stations as he commutes home from work.
Since most marijuana use is allegedly for “intractable pain”, Meredith says there has either been a sudden epidemic in intractable chronic pain, unresponsive to standard treatments – a condition for which no objective testing often exists – or the law may have been exploited by individuals seeking marijuana for other reasons.
Meredith says use of four or more joints per week has been consistently shown to lead to lower cognitive performance, with cumulative negative effects correlated with increasingly chronic use. He says experienced pilots who have smoked one joint showed impaired performance in multiple areas of functioning in a flight simulator 24 hours later, with little or no awareness of their performance impairment.
Meredith notes that THC – the main intoxicant in marijuana – can impair cognitive ability at levels as low as 3 ng/ml, yet nausea is not relieved until serum levels reach 10 ng/ml. He says there is a big difference between marijuana available today and that which was widely available in prior decades. THC levels are now seven times higher than they were 30 years ago, while cannabidiol – a compound believed to provide medical benefits – has sharply declined. Smoking marijuana cannot provide safe or reliable dosing levels.
“The American Society of Addiction Medicine has issued a policy paper explicitly rejecting marijuana as medicine,” Dr Meredith says. “It simply has not met the standards required of all other medications in the United States.”
FamilyVoice research officer Ros Phillips and Tasmania state officer Jim Collins congratulate the Tasmanian government for its recent rejection of moves to trial so-called “medical marijuana” in that state.
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