It wasn’t their expectation to be thrown into a lively debate concerning the medical use of marijuana, but when The New England Journal of medicine posed a question on its interactive feature, it received a surprising response. They presented the case of a 68-year-old woman with metastatic breast cancer, asking readers if she should be prescribed medical marijuana to ease the pain. Seventy-six respondents voted in favor of using medical marijuana.
Although the largest percentage of the votes came from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, there was an overwhelming sentiment worldwide in agreement with the medical use of marijuana, even in countries where it is illegal.
The Pain Priority
The study determined that physicians in favor of medical marijuana focused primarily on their responsibilities as caregivers and their responsibility to help their patients with alleviating pain. There was strong support for patient choice, with some medical professionals even citing cases from personal experience where medical marijuana assisted their patients. Others pointed out the known dangers of prescription narcotics.
Prescription Drugs not Adequate
The Illinois Senate heated up in May when two opposing physicians attended a hearing concerning the legalization of medical marijuana and voiced their opinions. Dr. Dora Dixie, an addiction specialist for the Cook County Bureau of Health, argues marijuana is extremely addicting and should not be available as a prescribed medication. Wrapping up her argument, she stated, “Science should drive the practice of medicine, not legislature.”
Dr. David Walters, a Mount Vernon physician diagnosed with esophageal cancer and given 11-13 months to live, states prescription medicines have had far more serious side-effects than marijuana. “Specifically since my diagnosis,” he stated, “I’ve been prescribed Bentinol morphine, Hydrocodone, and OxyContin. It’s my opinion that each of these medicines has greater abuse potential than marijuana.”
Opponents state marijuana should not be considered a medicine. Dr. Dixie insists there is not enough medical evidence to make her support the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. She asks “Who is going to educate the physicians on the drug and how will the doctors be supervised?” While she may be uncertain that science is driving the use of medical marijuana, her presence at the senate hearing shows she is still intent on driving the legislature.