Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Big Meh to Medical Marijuana

The latest in the saga of "medical marijuana" is a big meta-study that found minimal evidence for the effectiveness of either marijuana or isolated cannabinoids in treating most of the conditions for which it is prescribed. There is some evidence that marijuana is modestly effective for treating chronic pain and Tourette's syndrome or other "spasticity" disorders, including epilepsy. There is none at all for the relief of nausea, depression, anxiety, or psychosis.

It should be noted that this may be mainly because nobody has studied these issues nearly enough; drug makers see no benefit for themselves and the government has refused to get involved. But there just is no evidence that would justify bending the laws around this issue. And while as drugs go marijuana is not very dangerous, it can mess you up:
Serious adverse events included asthenia, balance problems, confusion, dizziness, disorientation, diarrhea, euphoria, drowsiness, dry mouth, fatigue, hallucination, nausea, somnolence, and vomiting.
Speaking as someone who strongly supports the legalization of marijuana, I have always been bothered by the medical marijuana scam. By "scam" I mean that most of the advocates for medical marijuana are not much interested in medicine, but are just looking for ways to legitimize their favorite drug. Maybe that's the way politics has to be played in America; maybe there is a big mass of people who don't much care about pot but are not sufficiently in favor to vote for full legalization, making this a convenient way to get more cannabis on the market. But I despise that sort of dishonesty. I wish people would forget ginning up medical evidence and focus on the basic issue: marijuana is less bad for you than whiskey, so whether adults want to use it is just nobody else's business.

I have to wonder, though: why is euphoria on that list of adverse events?


G. Verloren said...

I assume euphoria is listed because being stuck in any one emotional state, even one that could be called "positive", isn't healthy.

Being able to experience a range of emotions, and the capacity to switch between them as the situation requires, is vital to both our individual wellbeing, and our capacity to socialize with others.

Without the means to respond appropriately to situations that normally would induce feelings directly at odds with euphoria - such as fear, anger, sadness, et cetera - we lose our capacity to cope with reality.

Of course, as I said, I'm assuming...

Kpgoog said...

Its not like that. Bad study. I agree, euphoria is out of place. But those who have consumed pot know for a fact A: its not as bad as alcohol and B: it can do (does) wonders. Physical, mental, for your whole bodyand mind. Say that to the pharmacy, they will tell you buy what they have, its better.(not true, just selling what they have to)

Kpgoog said...

And Meta Study? Huh? Whats that supposed to be.

John said...

A meta study is a study of a bunch of other studies, a sort of summary, with fancy statistics.

I agree that pot is not very harmful but I disagree that it "works wonders." No doubt it can help some troubled people get through the day, and help some happy people feel even better. But I've never known any troubled person who was really cured by drugs, illegal or legal.

One thing about pot is that people report very different effects, so what it does to you may not be what it does to someone else. Some people say it makes them calm, whereas others report anxiety. Some people report feeling strongly connected to life or to those around them, but others say they feel disconnected, which is why I think depressed people in particular should be careful of it.

My chief complaint is that it mainly makes stoned people boring to listen to, especially when it makes them feel particularly profound. But that's hardly a reason to ban something.

Unknown said...

"I've never known any troubled person who was really cured by drugs, illegal or legal." I suppose it depends on what you mean by "really cured." If you mean "cured" in the way that antibiotics can kill the microbes that cause a disease, so that you can stop taking the antibiotics and the disease is still gone, that may be too high a standard. Many troubled people feel subjectively that drugs have helped them psychologically, and I think that subjective feeling has to count for something.

As for drugs of the marijuana and stronger illegal variety, friends of mine who are really into them say they basically make you more of what you are. An anxious person will become more anxious, etc. I report this as an interesting formula, whether it's always true or not.

My chief complaint about marijuana is the same as my complaint about all smoking drugs: the smell. But that's hardly a reason to keep it illegal.