The presumption that health care providers lack “medically based guidance” on cannabis is inaccurate (“Marijuana is not yet real medication, despite state laws saying so,” Sept. 22).
In fact, humans have been consuming cannabis for therapeutic purposes for thousands of years and detailed documentation of their use dates back hundreds of years — thus providing health care practitioners with a plethora of empirical data to glean from.
In addition, a search on PubMed, the repository for all peer-reviewed published research, using the term “marijuana” yields over 38,000 papers referencing the plant or its constituents — thousands of which have been published just in the past few years. This totality is far greater than that which exists for many conventional pharmaceuticals.
Clinical trial data on the safety and efficacy of cannabis in various patient populations continues to pour in from Israel, Canada and other nations where its prescription use is legally permitted and regulated. Even in the United States, dozens of Food and Drug Administration-approved clinical trials have been conducted in recent years at various academic institutions including University of California San Diego, Yale University, Columbia University, UC San Francisco, the University of Colorado and others. The findings of these gold-standard studies have consistently affirmed that cannabis is effective and possesses an acceptable safety profile.
That is why nearly seven in 10 practicing medical professionals supported the use of medical cannabis, according to nationwide survey data compiled this year by researchers affiliated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed had personally issued medical cannabis recommendations to their patients.
It’s time to stop emphasizing what we don’t know about cannabis and start emphasizing what we do know.
Paul Armentano, Washington, D.C.
The writer is deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
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