Marijuana has been legalized in a number of US states; 20 states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes; two states—Colorado and Washington state—also permit recreational use. Certain forms of cannabis are actually very potent medicine, with few or no psychoactive effects.
In California, medical marijuana has been legal for 18 years. Dr. Allan Frankel, a board-certified internist in California, has treated patients with medical cannabis for the past seven years.
By and large, cannabis is highly favored by people across the US. According to Dr. Frankel, 85-95 percent of Americans are in favor of medical cannabis, and 58-59 percent are in favor of legalizing marijuana.
The federal government, meanwhile, wants to get rid of all medical use of marijuana, which of course begs the question: Why? According to Dr. Frankel, the answer is simple. “They want it. This is a huge market,” he says.
And yes, medical cannabis is clearly competition to the pharmaceutical industry, as the cannabis plant can take the place of a wide variety of synthetic drugs, especially for mood and anxiety disorders. The last thing they want is a therapy that’s going to take away from their bottom line.
Cannabis as Medicine
Dr. Frankel initially learned about medical cannabis through glaucoma trials and cancer work performed at UCLA in the 70s and early 80s.
“I’ve always seen it as a medicine,” he says. “Eventually, I got interested in it. I thought my tool box was getting too small for typical issues with patients related to anxiety, pain, or the common issues where we just had inadequate medications.
I saw the cannabinoid future was something that was bright. Seven years ago, I kind of picked up my formal white coat and sprayed a little green on it…”
Green Bridge Medical is his professional corporation where he sees patients, performs research, and provides physician and patient education and outreach. For all its benefits, using cannabis in lieu of other medicines has many challenges.
“It’s a complicated process, as a physician in particular, working inside the medical system, to work outside the medical system to make these dose-consistent extracts available.”
Many may find the idea of medical cannabis abhorrent or somehow “wrong,” as we’ve been indoctrinated to view marijuana as a dangerous gateway drug that will lead you down a path of illicit drug use.
Many fail to realize that prescription drugs actually have FAR greater potential to turn you into “a junkie.” Legal drug addiction is also taking lives in record numbers. In the UK, one million people are addicted to over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription painkillers and tranquilizers.
That’s significantly more than the number addicted to illegal drugs. In the US, there were four times more deaths among women from prescription painkiller overdose than for cocaine and heroin deaths combined in 2010.
Pharmaceuticals in general are among the leading causes of death in the US, and some medicines have killed tens of thousands of individuals. The painkiller Vioxx is one classic example, which killed over 60,000 before being pulled off the market.
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