On the Dr Oz show today, Doctor Oz focused on the hot debate concerning medical marijuana. His guest was Montel Williams, who has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and who is fighting for legalized medical marijuana, since it provides relief for his condition. Additionally, Montel says that no more plaque has formed in his brain, leading to the conclusion that using marijuana has halted the progression of his MS. He is fighting to help find a cure for multiple sclerosis, and says it’s time for the federal government to make medical marijuana legal!
Montel took a shot at President Obama on today’s show as well, saying that the president has never worn a uniform and Montel has…so how dare the President deny him the use of a medicine that works for his condition.
Another guest on the show, Dr. Andrea Barthwell who is a former director of the White House National Drug Control Policy, says that she co-chaired a study that reviewed the literature on the safety of medical marijuana. Their study found that one: they can’t support the use of smoking any drug; two: wherever medical marijuana is in use, the illegal use of it expands and three: young people are the most vulnerable to that.
Another guest, Dr. Donald Abrams, who is an oncologist and a medical marijuana researcher, says that his patients are fighting for their lives. As far as smoking it, he considers it an “inhaled” drug, like those used by asthmatic patients. He and Montel insist that smoking marijuana appears to even decrease the risk of lung cancer!
Then Dr. Oz went back to Dr. Barthwell, and said that she has been involved with a company who is looking at taking some of the elements of marijuana and purifying them. Montel jumped in and said no, she was hired by a medicinal marijuana company from outside of the United States to ensure that patients outside the U.S. have access to safe and effective medicine, as opposed to people here at home. Dr. Barthwell said that the products have not passed the FDA, because our standards are different from those in countries where those products have passed, such as the U.K. and Canada.
An audience member who works as a school nurse pointed out that in areas where marijuana has been legalized for medical use, the perceived risk of using it goes down, so use goes up in the kids. They don’t think there’s anything wrong with it because it’s prescribed by doctors.
Dr. Barthwell’s greatest fear for legalized medical marijuana is having a medicine available outside the closed loop of FDA approval (which regulates its dispensation) causes patients to have to buy it from street vendors.
Montel pointed out that prescription medications like Oxycontin, Percocet, Adderall and Valium are the most addictive and abused substances out there, especially among high school kids. The audience applauded.
So the question becomes, is marijuana addictive? Dr. Shahla Modir joined the show. She is a psychiatrist who treats addicts, and she says that 40% of the addicts she treats have a medical marijuana card. Dr. Modir explained that an addict can get a medical marijuana card in California because there are no restrictions as to what conditions can be treated with marijuana. So anything goes…if you find the right doctor you can get a card just for having PMS!
Dr. Oz says it makes sense to prescribe marijuana for chronic pain associated with a disease, glaucoma, the nausea and weight loss associated with HIV or cancer. But prescribing it for PMS, anxiety, stress, headache, insomnia and irritability does not make medical sense.
Then we got into a hot debate with several audience members and Montel regarding whether medical marijuana was addictive, whether the government has a right to dictate whether a doctor can prescribe it or not, etc.
Dr. Oz said his medical team researched it, and it appears that for 1 in 10 people it’s addictive. Doctor Oz asked Dr. Barthwell if tobacco is more addictive than marijuana, why is it legal and pot isn’t? She did not have a good answer: “It is because it is,” she said. Nice!
Then Dr. Oz said that research shows young people who try marijuana are 8 times more likely to use cocaine, 15 times more likely to use heroin, and five times more likely to end up treated for substance abuse. So…it’s a gateway drug, but Dr. Abrams said there’s no demonstration of any cause and effect between the use of medical marijuana and other hard drugs.
In terms of this issue coming to your state, Dr. Oz had an audience member speak up. He was Allen St. Pierre, the director of NORML, a group working to legalize marijuana. He says four states are taxing medical cannabis: Oregon, Colorado, Rhode Island and Maine. That helps bail out their budgets, and could help it get legalized in other states because they need the revenue.
Doctor Oz summed up that if we’re going to make medical marijuana legal, then we need to make it legal. “It’s not fair to pass laws that make it look like it’s legal, and then not be able to give people what they need,” he said. States need a system to control who can prescribe marijuana and who can use it. Marijuana is not as addictive as other drugs, “but it’s darn addictive,” he said, and it needs to be strictly regulated.
Fundamentally, Dr. Oz says it should be used to give patients their lives back, not to take their lives away.
I couldn’t agree more and I think Dr. Oz hit the nail on the head. I will say this about Montel Williams. He didn’t seem to be able to speak very coherently on the subject. He would start out to say one thing, then get sidetracked onto another topic. Maybe that’s his MS, and maybe that’s his marijuana use, I don’t know. But he was not as well-spoken as any other person on the show which I don’t think helped his cause very much.