The issue that has swept the US in recent news is legalizing marijuana for medical use. Currently, there are 22 states that have legalized medical marijuana, as well as DC. But only two states, Colorado and Washington State, have legalized marijuana for recreational use.
A bill was introduced during this past legislative session by state Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) that would set up a regulatory framework to allow people suffering from certain diseases to use marijuana to treat their symptoms. This bill, HB 1385, also known as the Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act, would have made it legal for patients suffering from conditions like cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer’s disease to use cannabis for medical purposes. The bill also would have allowed for “any other medical condition” to be treated with marijuana as long as a doctor prescribes it and the state health department approves it.
Currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved or recommended marijuana or the chemical THC as a licensed medical product. Standards and practices exist within that system to conduct clinical trials and study adverse events in order to protect the safety of the public. Every time a pharmaceutical product is introduced into the market, it has gone through a series of rigorous clinical trials and expert reviews.
In a review published June 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine, Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, outlines marijuana’s negatives, based on her reading of the medical literature.
Short-term use can impair memory and learning, create temporary psychosis if taken in high doses and cause more driving accidents, Volkow states. Long-term use — particularly among those who start young — can increase the chance of permanent brain changes, addictive behavior, mental illness and loss of IQ.
Since Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2009, there has been an increase in the number of drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes who test positive for marijuana, a new federally funded study shows.
“I think that this raises very important concerns,” study investigator Stacy Salomonsen-Sautel, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado, in Aurora, told Medscape Medical News. “There is definitely a need for better education and prevention programs” to prevent marijuana-impaired driving,” she added.
MDC will be continuing to follow this issue closely and always places emphasis on any negative effects or consequences a substance has on children and youth.