The People’s Medicine: How Legalization Improves America’s Healthcare
In the heart of Denver, the newly-minted marijuana capital of America, doctors from around the nation bared unseasonable late-summer frost to attend the Marijuana for Medical Professionals Conference. The event targeted medical professionals with one thing in common—a desire to know more about cannabis medicines as the substance is propelled out of the realms of early 20th-century “reefer madness” and into popular use as a highly-lucrative, 21st-century panacea.
On the top floor of the 100-year-old former Masonic temple, a cascade of doctors, a virtual “who’s who” of cannabis science, gathered in the large auditorium. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam—the Israeli researcher who isolated and identified ∆-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in the early 1960s— and Dr. Lester Grinspoon, long-time American cannabis researcher, professor emeritus in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of “Marihuana Reconsidered” were among the attendees.
Over the course of the three-day conference, it became clear that the doctors with less exposure to cannabis are still struggling with the concept of botanical medicine and are clinging to the stigma-driven notion that there must be a downside. Although the laws are changing quickly, doctors are moving slowly and there’s a huge information gap to bridge before it becomes the medical establishment’s medicine too.
The most poignant and defining moment of the event came during a presentation by the founder of the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA), a national organization of registered nurses with the mission to “advance excellence in cannabis nursing practice through advocacy, collaboration, research and policy development.”
“Cannabis, to me, in nursing is probably one of the most valuable tools I could have,” said ACNA President Mary Lynne Mathre, RN, MSN, while speaking at the conference about cannabis as a tool for clinical harm reduction. “Why do we insist that this pass every test of safety before we can have it? We give chemotherapy, which is designed to hopefully kill the cancer but it could also kill the person, but the patient has a choice for that.”
Mathre’s statements, while rooted in both available science and first-hand experience, still rubbed some doctors the wrong way, particularly a long-time OBGYN from New York.
“I was very impressed yesterday by all these wonderful and glorious things marijuana has done going back centuries, but then I happened to come across a review article in The New England Journal of Medicine, just published in June 2014 and the title of the article — which I recommend to everyone — is Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use. The article is by Dr. Volkow—”
The doctor was abruptly cut off by uncoordinated choruses of “bias” from other doctors in the auditorium. Dr. Nora Volkow is the director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).
After a careful analysis of the overt bias presented in studies produced by NIDA, Mathre concluded, “Stop looking at marijuana, start looking at cannabis.”
Continue reading at CannabisNowMagazine.com
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