6:00 AM EDT, March 13, 2012
Since the legislature wants to play doctor, a little medical education is required before it can obtain and then defend a DEA license like I have. In their excellent opinion Friday ("Medical marijuana laws make a farce of medicine," March 7), Drs. Dinah Miller and Antoinette Hansen did not mention that only double blind, randomized controlled trials with hundreds of patients can determine the safety and effectiveness of a medicine. For marijuana, this would have to be vaporized, as any smoke is carcinogenic, and in treatment-naive subjects, since habitual users can figure quality with a single hit.
Paul Armentano of NORML asks us to respect pot because of its long history ("FDA'smarijuana Catch-22," March 11), but it deserves none without data to support it. Anecdotal evidence is not good evidence, so it just does not matter how much is presented to legislators in labcoats. FDA has attributed four deaths to THC; marijuana's active ingredient does have a lethal dose. In my practice, three elderly patients I gave THC for appetite had unpleasant hallucinations. One patient became more paranoid and dependent on pot. A daily pot smoker developed metastatic cancer by age 50. Pot has nothing to offer beyond morphine and Zofran, so why bother?
Pot is a big industry that wants free reign. That does not make it safe or effective for anyone.
Dr. Theodore Carl Houk, Baltimore
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