Medical Marijuana – Is Momentum Increasing?

Medical Marijuana – Is Momentum Increasing?

By Ed Coghlan

Is medical marijuana about to be approved in Pennsylvania? It could happen as early as this week. (Read story)

Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, supports legalizing medical cannabis and has said he would sign a bill if it reaches his desk. The challenge has been a Republican-controlled legislature that seems to be moderating its historical opposition to medical marijuana. 23 states, including neighboring New Jersey, have approved medical marijuana.

Another state that has approved medical marijuana is California, the nation’s largest state. This November, Californians may follow the lead of Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and the District of Columbia and go for full recreational use of marijuana.

That has an Orange County, California physician wondering if the full legalization of marijuana is good for medical marijuana.

“I’m for it for just medicinal use,” said Dr. Chyle Beaird.

“There are lots physicians and patients who want to see this used for medicinal purposes and covered by insurance,” he said.  “If it’s approved for just recreational use it would devalue a lot of sacrifices that people have made to make it available for medicinal use.”

Dr. Beaird spoke recently at a CRPS conference in Long Beach about the use of medical marijuana.

In an interview with the National Pain Report, Dr. Beaird bemoaned the lack of research into the efficacy of medical marijuana to treat many conditions, including chronic pain.

“It’s hard to change attitudes and behavior,” he said. “It makes no sense for the government to put cannabis in the same category as heroin.”

He pointed out that many family practice physicians and some pain physicians are still resistant to prescribing medical marijuana.

The acceptance is gaining wider acceptance, but it’s not happening fast.

Dr. Beaird says that once a colleague is receptive to learning, he can help them understand why marijuana may be a good option for patients.

“When a doctor says ok, I’m going to listen to you. Tell me why this is good for my patient – then I know we can have a conversation,” he said. “A doctor who asked me about it had a loved one who was in pain, let’s just say that my information didn’t fall on deaf ears.”

Many physicians are waiting for the patient to suggest it…because they are concerned about patient reaction.

“Physicians are sometimes resistant about prescribing marijuana for another reason. They aren’t sure how the patients will respond,” Dr. Beaird said. “I have colleagues in pain management who, once the patient asks about marijuana,they prescribe it immediately.”

“The patient shouldn’t be reluctant to say anything,” he said.

Finally, Dr. Beaird emphasized that prescribing medical marijuana shouldn’t be a last resort. Prescribing cannabis should be introduced into the continuum of care earlier.

“Physicians need to educate themselves, talk to more colleagues (especially pain management) and oncologists and find out more so they are more comfortable recommending it earlier in treatment,” he said.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 6 comments for this article
  1. Anne at 1:53 pm

    Dave, Please don’t forget that the opioid epidemic numbers have been inflated by our government agencies and alphabet groups to justify the need for prohibition and the failed war on drugs. Also addiction and dependency are not the same thing.

    To put our “opioid addiction” in perspective these are the approximate numbers for deaths from prescription opioid drug overdoses compared to deaths from smoking. (Depending on who you believe as the CDC has admitted that some deaths from street drug overdoses have been combined with deaths from prescription opioid drug overdoses.)
    So here goes: number of deaths from prescription opioid* drug overdoses
    in 2015 13,000-16,000. Deaths from smoking in *2014*, 480,000.

    Why aren’t the alphabet groups and our governments cracking down on cigarette smoking the same way they’ve cracked down on opioids? Surely the numbers of smoking deaths justifies they do so? Hint: It’s always about the money rather than our health.

    *It wouldn’t surprise me if that number included *all* prescription drug overdoses rather than only opioids.
    *2014* I couldn’t find the numbers for 2015 but surely they’re higher than 2014.

  2. Linda at 7:31 pm

    Since marijuana is natural, I believe it is much safer than a lot of opiates! You won’t get addicted even though a few people think so. It should be legal for medical only I think. Then if they make it legal medically people won’t have to just smoke it, they can eat it in foods which won’t be bad for them.

  3. Andrea O at 7:14 pm

    Someone needs to tell Kansas City Missouri to start it up as well

  4. Elton L. at 12:31 pm

    For my chronic pain condition I think that medical marijuana would be beneficial .I suffer from chronic pancreatitis and I have had several operations to my abdominal area. A total splenectomy, a partial pancreatomy and a puestow procedure and I suffer everyday. I have no appetite at all and I’m losing more weight and I can’t help it. A friend that deals with cancer had said that marijuana is the absolute medication that I need. I already take 8mg of dilaudid, 20ml of morphine liquid. And I still hurt everyday. I’m wondering if it will help.

  5. Dave at 8:00 am

    I think it is possible, that government officials are realizing that the health care industry focus on opioids is a failure and that government needs to intervene. Marijuana has a much better risk profile then opioids and can generate significant tax revenues- and is “opioid sparing” for numerous conditions.
    The opioid economy is eclipsing-and slowly even some of the pain specialists like Ballantyne, Fishman, and others realize some its limitations. And more physicians like Dr Beaird are right to recognize it has a place in care for pain and other medical conditions.
    People in pain need more choices and more freedom of choice then the poisonous enthusiasm for opioids has lead to. Marijuana, incarvillateine, monoterpenes, triterpenes, stem cell therapies- should be more widely used. But, as a society, we need to overcome our addiction to using opioids as frequently as we do- and I don’t think the pain specialists and thee average run of the mill doctors is willing to overcome their addiction and move on to better treatments for pain.

  6. Carolyn Robinson at 5:27 am

    I wish people would educate themselves on the “positive” effects of marijuana for people with Chronic Pain issues as well as numerous other illnesses. A close relative of mine has Crohn’s Disease and marijuana is the only way her appetite came back after losing so much weight she was down to her 80s. It helps her pain and makes her feel better. Plus, her medications that are prescribed to her make her dizzy, foggy and she is uncomfortable taking them.