Medical cannabis is currently legal in 37 states and, with 94% of Americans in favor of legal access to medical marijuana, it seems as if this treatment option is returning to the mainstream. Many people aren’t aware that cannabis was a popular treatment in this country in the late 1800s and early 1900s — commonly dispensed by doctors — and that the American Medical Association was one of the strongest voices testifying against prohibiting it in 1937.
I’ve been aware of the ability of medical cannabis to alleviate suffering since I watched my brother Danny use it during his unsuccessful battle with leukemia. Cannabis was the only thing that allowed him to keep down food during chemotherapy. Now, decades later, I am a physician who certifies patients that qualify for medical cannabis in Massachusetts. People often have questions about its safety and its proper use, and these are often the same considerations I have before certifying patients.
Is it safe?
As with nearly everything else about cannabis, how safe or dangerous it is remains hotly debated. As a primary care doctor, I have to ask myself: is cannabis safer than the alternatives I would be prescribing? For example, if I’m treating a patient for chronic pain, is cannabis safer than opiates? Medication risks must be balanced against the safety concerns of cannabis; the main ones are as follows:
- Its safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding has not been established.
- It can worsen, and even potentially cause, psychotic disorders.
- It can temporarily worsen short-term memory and cognitive functioning.
- It can have cardiac and lung effects, such as rapid heart rate and bronchitis.
- You can get addicted.
- There can be drug interactions, especially with CBD.
- It can cause or worsen anxiety at high dosages, even leading to panic attacks.
- Driving and the operation of heavy machinery is impaired.
- It can be especially dangerous for teenagers to use, as there is evidence that they are particularly susceptible to cognitive effects and addiction.
Read full article here: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/common-questions-about-medical-cannabis-202105282467