Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Medical Marijuana
"Medical marijuana" has been the topic for a lot of news reports lately.

The Federal Government has given the green light for it to be produced and the eastern states, at least, have made moves towards doing human trials on the use of marijuana in specific conditions, and the Queensland Government has a bill proposing making it legal on prescription.

I've already seen Facebook posts asking "would you try medical marijuana for lupus?"

Let's start with a basic fact: just because something is natural or even legal doesn't mean it is safe.

For example, natural supplements, that were available over-the-counter or over-the-internet have caused liver failure and even death in some people.  The problem?  Some things that are safe in small amounts are toxic in large amounts. (The water in your tap contains chlorine and is safe - but if you drank straight chlorine, that would be very, very bad.) Another problem, for people with health issues, is that some things have negative interactions with our medication. (Have you noticed that Methotrexate sometimes comes with warnings against eating grapefruit?  Methotrexate can make the usually-harmless vitamin C into something dangerous if you have too much.)

At the moment, I don't think there's been enough scientific research for me to be confident to take it.  (I can't tell you what to do with your own body, so if you disagree with me that's fine.)  I'd like to know more about side effects and drug interactions before I was comfortable to agree to it being added to my drug cocktail.

I do like that, like other narcotics, it will be a prescription-only drug.  That means that not only a patient, but also a doctor who should be keeping up to date on the research would be looking at questions like: is this drug better for this purpose than the other options?  Is this drug safe for this purpose (taking into account the patient's condition, other medications, etc.)

I know there's a lot of anecdotes on the internet about cannabis curing all kinds of diseases.  I feel safer with medicine based on scientific evidence, rather than anecdote, but maybe that's just me.

All in all, increasing treatment options is a good thing.  But a new option is just another new option, and the risks and benefits for each patient need to be weighed up the same as with every other treatment option.


‘Big change’ coming to marijuana laws as Queensland leads the way

Does cannabis cause mental illness?

Herbal supplements linked to at least six Australian organ transplants since 2011, data shows

Medical Marijuana Trial in Australia: What you need to know,40227

NSW medical cannabis trial to treat chemotherapy patients suffering nausea

Synthetic cannabis medical trial to treat Victorian children with severe epilepsy

World first as NSW trials medical cannabis on children with severe epilepsy

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