Survey: Oncologists Believe Medical Cannabis To Be Equally Or More Effective Than Conventional Treatments

MASSACHUSETTS: The majority of oncologists believe that the use of medical cannabis is either as effective or more effective than conventional treatments for managing symptoms of cancer, according to survey data published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology.

A team of investigators lead by researchers at The Dana Farber Cancer Clinic randomly surveyed oncologists’ beliefs with regard to the safety and efficacy of cannabis therapy. Sixty-five percent of respondents said that medical marijuana was equally effective or more effective than standard treatments for addressing appetite loss and/or cachexia. The majority of respondents also believed that cannabis was safe and effective as an adjunct treatment for anxiety and pain. Half of respondents said that cannabis was as effective or more effective that conventional medications in treating nausea, and 70 percent viewed marijuana as equally safe or safer than opioids.

The survey also reported that some eighty percent of oncologists had engaged in discussions with their patients about the use of cannabis, although in over half of those instances it was either patients or their families, rather than the oncologists themselves, who prompted the conversation.

For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, “Medical oncologists’ beliefs, practices, and knowledge regarding marijuana used therapeutically: A nationally representatives survey study,” appears in The Journal of Clinical Oncology.

NY Times Book Review: ‘Stoned: A Doctor’s Case For Medical Marijuana’

NEW YORK: Two-legged or four-legged, some guinea pigs have more fun than others.

Among the human variety, Dr. John Clendinning and Dr. David Casarett might be considered particularly fortunate. Back in 1843 Dr. Clendinning, a London physician and bad insomniac, reported on his personal experiences with various sleep-inducing substances. The clear winner was a tincture of marijuana, which brought him a good night’s sleep with none of what he termed opium’s “inconveniences.”

Now Dr. Casarett, a physician at the University of Pennsylvania, has assumed the Clendinning mantle, selflessly immersing himself in the culture, science and, yes, smoke of medical marijuana in order to unravel and report back on the truth behind the buzz.

Despite the book’s title, Dr. Casarett writes more as a doctor than as a stoner in “Stoned” — and let the record show he threw a particularly delectable brownie in an airport trash can rather than risk interstate transport problems. He delivers a readable, absorbing and informative account, laudably minimizing the yucks and emphasizing the science, or as least as much as the data allow. (Read an excerpt.)

Farm-To-Dispensary Medical Marijuana In New York: Grass Roots And Black Dirt

NEW YORK:  At last, New Yorkers with serious medical conditions including cancer, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, MS, and severe chronic pain will be able to access medical marijuana. Sponsored by NYS Senator Diane Savino, New York State’s Compassionate Care Act, passed on June 23, 2014, and the recent passage of the emergency access bill accelerates the original January, 2016 implementation date. With the alleys of Wall Street already known for years to be fragrant with the scent of cannabis, it’s no surprise that big business has been sniffing around to see where they can gain advantage.

With New York City leading the way with its revolutionary Smoke Free Air Act of 2002, updated in 2009 to include hospitals, and the New York State Clean Indoor Air Act of 2003, it makes sense that the Compassionate Care Act specifically prohibits smoking and instead mandates that marijuana extracts be ingested in vapor, oil or pill forms. With New York State’s abundant agricultural bounty, growing marijuana locally, farmer’s market style for those of us in the city, makes perfect sense. It would follow that the excellent doctors of New York State with proven experience prescribing botanical medicine and controlled substances in clinical and research settings in the management of intractable conditions be at the forefront of medical marijuana. But when there’s money involved, and with health care and marijuana becoming industries, how could it be so simple? In 2016 alone, medical marijuana revenues statewide are estimated to reach 239 million, and by 2020, over 1.2 billion, generating generous state tax revenues. Investors, venture capitalists, hopeful speculators, and Wall Streeters are circling like vultures, attending food service courses and $900 a plate expos hosted by tanning salon entrepreneurs. Only 5 licenses to grow and process medical marijuana will be granted, each license providing for 4 dispensaries, a total of only 20 for all of New York State.


Holistic Healers Applaud Move To Make Charlotte’s Web Pot Available

FLORIDA:  When Mirabai Cardullo’s husband, Chris Cardullo, was battling kidney cancer that had spread to his liver, she searched for ways to relieve his pain – and looked to cannabis for answers.

“I tried to get him (medical) marijuana before he passed. I didn’t want him to be in pain and I tried to inquire about it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t available,’’ the 53-year-old alternative healer said.

“I wanted to help increase his appetite to keep him well nourished. If he had some medical marijuana, he could have had more cravings. It would have helped, ” Cardullo said.

Cardullo was among the alternative medicine practitioners attending last weekend’s Gainesville Holistic Health Fair who applauded a judge’s ruling that is expected to make it easier for Floridians to get access to the so-called Charlotte’s Web form of medical pot.


Medical Community’s Unease About Medical Marijuana Puts Some Prospective Patients In A Bind

MINNESOTA:  Patients hoping to access medical marijuana may struggle to register for the medicine as doctors and hospitals shy away from the new program.

Registration opens Monday and patients are expected to start getting the medicine in July. The law passed last year requires a physician to certify a patient has one of nine qualifying conditions.

St. Paul resident Sarah Wellington says her neurologist was on board to try medical marijuana for her multiple sclerosis. But her clinic told her last week they won’t sign off for now.

Canadian Government Placing An Unfair Burden On Doctors Who Prescribe Marijuana

CANADA:  Earlier this year, the legislative framework surrounding the provision of medical marijuana in Canada underwent significant change. On April 1, 2014, for-profit corporations who have been granted license by the government assumed responsibility for growing and dispensing prescribed medical marijuana.

Physicians, who are charged with assessing the appropriateness of dried marijuana for their patients and writing the “medical document” which must be presented to these licensed producers in order to procure the product, have been thrust into the role of gatekeeper. As they are learning, it’s a particularly onerous gate.

Aside from having to grapple with the ethical and legal concerns involved in prescribing an illegal substance, physicians who prescribe medical marijuana are also expected to perform demanding and time-consuming services for the corporations who profit from its sale. The physicians receive nothing in return.

The additional workload associated with prescribing medical marijuana is partially buried under a cloak of semantics. Take, for example, the “medical document” that physicians must complete in order to authorize patient access to dried marijuana. According to a draft policy statement published by The College of Physicians and Surgeons, “Physicians enable patients to access a legal supply of dried marijuana by completing a medical document that functions like a conventional prescription.” However, ask a physician who has begun prescribing medical marijuana and you will learn that this medical document is anything but a conventional prescription.

Illinois Patients To Docs: ‘What About Marijuana?’

ILLINOIS:  Illinois doctors, nursing homes, hospitals and hospice organizations are ramping up for their role as gatekeepers in the state’s new medical marijuana program.

Medical professionals find themselves at the center of a quickly changing legal landscape with minimal scientific research to back the claims of those extolling marijuana’s therapeutic benefits.

“It’s already an issue,” said Dr. Martha Twaddle of Barrington-based JourneyCare, which specializes in end-of-life care. “People are asking, ‘What about marijuana?'”

Illinois is among 23 states that have made medical marijuana legal. Illinois’ new law is on the restrictive side, with a limited list of qualifying health conditions. But one — spinal cord disease — could be broadly interpreted to cover any patient complaining of back pain.


Most Doctors At Minnesota Forum Oppose Medical Marijuana

MINNESOTA:  Most of the doctors polled at a Minnesota Medical Association forum oppose the legislation that legalizes medical marijuana.

The bill passed a Minnesota House committee Wednesday, but still has a long road ahead in the Legislature.

The Medical Association says two-thirds of the 35 physicians attending a medical marijuana forum this week in Eagan oppose the bill. The forum’s moderator and MMA board chairman, Dr. Dave Thorson, says many physicians felt more research is needed on the topic.

The association, as a whole, has not taken a position on the legislation. The MMA is also surveying its entire membership and that information will be forwarded to its board in mid-March.