Recovery Plus: reclaiming lives
54 April/May 2017 Reactions to cannabis among young patients
have included worsening seizures so severe
that doctors have to put the child
into a coma to stop the seizures
results never make it through the complex sets
of hurdles that prove efficacy and safety. But
marijuana legalisers use early promise and thin
science to persuade and manipulate empathetic
legislators and voters into buying the spin that
marijuana is a cure-all.
People who are sick already have access to two
FDA-approved drugs, dronabinol and nabilone,
which are not marijuana, but contain copies of
some of the components of marijuana. These
drugs, available as pills, treat chemotherapyinduced
nausea and vomiting and Aids wasting.
The NAS reviewed 10,700 abstracts of marijuana
studies conducted since 1999, finding that these
two oral drugs are effective in adults for the
above. An extract containing two marijuana
chemicals that is approved in other countries
reduces spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis.
But there is no evidence that marijuana itself
treats diseases – or conditions the states have
legalised marijuana to treat.
Not so fast – what about the regulations?
Legalisers have convinced people that unregulated
cannabidiol, a marijuana component branded
as cannabis oil, CBD, or Charlotte’s Web, cures
intractable seizures in children with epilepsy,
and polls show about 90% of americans want
'medical' marijuana legalised, particularly for
these sick children. In Colorado, the American
Epilepsy Society reports that children with
epilepsy are receiving unregulated, highly variable
artisanal preparations of cannabis oil, too often
recommended by doctors with no training in
pediatrics, neurology or epilepsy. Unsurprisingly,
young patients have had severe dystonic
reactions and other movement disorders,
developmental regression, intractable vomiting
and worsening seizures so severe that physicians
have to put the child into a coma to get the
seizures to stop. Because of these dangerous
side effects, not one pediatric neurologist in
Colorado, where unregulated cannabidiol is legal,
recommends it for children.
Dr Sanjay Gupta further clouded the issue when
he produced Weed in 2013, a three-part series
for CNN on marijuana as medicine. In all three
programmes, he promoted CBD oil, the kind the
American Epilepsy Society calls artisanal because
not one CBD product sold in legal states has
been purified to Food and Drug Administration
standards, tested or proven safe and effective.
The US Congress and the FDA developed rigid
processes to review drugs and prevent medical
tragedies such as birth defects caused by
thalidomide. By end-running the FDA, three
billionaires have been willing to wreck the drug
approval process which protected people from
unsafe, ineffective drugs for over a century.
Unsubstantiated claims for the curative powers
of marijuana abound. No one can be sure of
the purity, content, side effects or potential of
marijuana to cause cancer or any other disease.
When people get sick from medical marijuana,
there are no uniform mechanisms to recall
products causing the harm. Some pot medicines
contain contaminants. Sick people, especially
children, suffer while marijuana medicine men
make money at their expense.
The paper and the supporting data are available