Four states have a referendum legalizing adult use of cannabis on the ballot this year. Five other states have initiatives for medical marijuana programs. What does legal marijuana mean for you?
As a licensed urologist, I encourage the voting for and passing of these referendums.
My reasoning for this is that I feel there is a place for legal marijuana in the arsenal of wellness and health. We have 25 states and Washington D.C. where it has been legalized in some form or another. The addition of other states will put pressure on the federal government to legalize the use of legal marijuana.
Why is a federal mandate important?
Right now, it is illegal for a medical practitioner to prescribe cannabis by federal law. It falls under the same jurisdiction as the prescription of heroin. By prescribing this, licensed medical doctors can have their DEA license revoked. A DEA license is earned through many years of hard work and few physicians want to lose this license.
Therefore, few practicing physicians try to fit the study of the properties and use of cannabis into their knowledge base. Most gain knowledge from anecdotal stories from their patients.
My experience is that patients who have good effects are happy to discuss the use of medical marijuana with their physician if they trust that the physician will not stigmatize them for use. Those patients who have no effects, an adverse effect or worry about their physician’s thoughts on the matter will probably not discuss this with their physician.
The anecdotal stories can be over-weighted on the positive side or not discussed at all. Most physicians prefer properly studied peer reviewed articles about the merits and potential side effects of drugs before they will prescribe them and risk the health of their patients.
A federal law allowing medical marijuana would have a significant effect on the proper use of cannabis. This would encourage pharmaceutical companies to study the drug and would allow for peer reviewed articles about it’s use. Our knowledge base would significantly increase to allow us to use this on a more scientific rather than anecdotal basis. There would be less of a stigma regarding physicians who prescribe it and patients who use it.
So now it is up to us, the people of the United States to take a stand. Medical marijuana is not going away. Vote yes to increase our knowledge and awareness.
Dr. Green is a board certified Urologist with a passion for minimally invasive prostate cancer treatments who specializes in all aspects of Adult Urology focusing on Prostate Cancer.