The Medical Marijuana Magazine


Many other substances have been touted as miracle cures which then turned out to be worthless or even dangerous, so how do we know that this will not be the case with marijuana?

This question was raised at the NIH Workshop on Medical Marijuana and in a letter to the Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine in response to his editorial calling for medical access to marijuana for the seriously ill. The comparison is usually made to Laetrile or some other purported cancer cure.

The FDA's power to require proof of efficacy is not based simply on the desire to prevent monetary fraud. If people suffering from cancer or some other serious disease take a fraudulent "cure," they may die as a consequence of not having taken a valid medical treatment. Fair enough.

However, no one is claiming that marijuana "cures" anything. What marijuana offers is symptomatic relief. It works to overcome or lessen pain, to stop nausea, to stimulate the appetite, to prevent muscle spasms, to lower eye fluid pressure in glaucoma, etc. With the partial exception of glaucoma, this symptomatic relief is immediately apparent to the patient even more than to the doctors.

In its use in relief of stress, depression or other psychological problems, the benefit may be even more subjective, but these are recognized medical conditions on which Americans spend billions of dollars every year on pharmaceuticals such as Prozac, Valium, etc.

In short, the comparison to "false cures" is simply irrelevant to the medical marijuana issue, but the fact that it is raised demonstrates a lack of understanding of the subject.

As for marijuana being "dangerous," this is a relative term. Most medications are acknowledged to be far more "dangerous" than even the most passionate prohibitionists claim marijuana to be.