Why some doctors are changing their minds about medical marijuana

Published Jan 7, 2020 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Esther Kelleter

Before the legalization of cannabis, many of us only knew what we were told about it. Those stories were usually one-sided and focused on the negatives of cannabis. There was little known about cannabis then. Even now, we don’t know everything about cannabis, but we are more enlightened. We are more knowledgeable about the benefits of cannabis since the spread of marijuana legalization. Research is ongoing and so there is so much more to discover about cannabis.

Misconceptions

Medical practitioners are still not conditioned to the change that legalization has brought about. After all, they were educated on the negative effects of marijuana and believed as much as legislators that cannabis was bad for consumption. The medical practice thrived on the use of pharmaceutical drugs that they prescribed.

As a result, there is a symbiotic or beneficial relationship between the medical profession and pharmaceutical companies. Doctors might not be keen to welcome the possibility that cannabis may be an alternative to traditional drugs.

Since the legalization of marijuana, there has been a shift in the perspectives of many persons regarding cannabis. Many refer to it as a paradigm shift, while others said it is evolutionary. Though there has been a shift, many doctors remain reluctant to prescribe medical marijuana to its patients.

Patients suffering from terminal illnesses or chronic pain would be required to obtain a medical marijuana card. In order to acquire such a card, a patient needs to get a doctor's approval. Patients encounter many difficulties to get a prescription.

Doctors perspective changes

However, some doctors are slowly but surely changing their views on marijuana. Are you wondering why such a sudden change of mind? Well, the truth is that doctors only believe what they know for sure. They need evidence to support whatever claim is made, and without such evidence, doctors won't accept any theory.

There was little or no research on the benefits of cannabis before legalization because cannabis was classified as an illegal substance. Use of cannabis would result in criminalization. The research was cramped in such an environment where cannabis was pure evil with no possibility of benefits. More research has been done on cannabis.

Scientific data shows that two of the cannabinoid, THC, and CBD found in cannabis have medicinal and therapeutic benefits. The THC molecule is associated with the high feeling people get. Scientists have found that THC may get you high, but CBD does not. Therefore, cannabis can provide long-lasting benefits without negative ‘high’ depending on your THC content and consumption method.

Views of Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Interestingly, one doctor has come forward to dispel the misconceptions surrounding cannabis use. Like most, if not all, doctors, Dr. Sanjay Gupta was adamant that cannabis had no positive effect on patients irrespective of the many anecdotes from patients.

He believed what he was educated to believe, but his views changed after doing a thorough research and even trying the drug himself. He has been enlightened and he hopes to shed some light on the positive effects of marijuana.

Dr. Gupta argues that the government listed cannabis as an illegal substance with no scientific evidence to support their claim. He does not believe that marijuana has a higher rate of addiction and abuse when compared to other drugs such as tobacco.

Dr. Gupta said that he is aware that some studies show that marijuana can have long-lasting negative effects on teenagers’ brains and like any other drug, teenagers should be advised not to consume marijuana. Basically, marijuana should only be consumed by adults. Furthermore, Dr. Gupta said there are many small studies on the benefits of marijuana that we are unaware of.

Prospects

Research is delayed because marijuana is not fully legalized in some states. We anticipate more for discovery on the benefits of marijuana in the future as legalization becomes a reality across the world.

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