Regarding Dr. Cyril Wecht’s March 2 Forum article (“The Mythology of Marijuana”):
While I agree that the personal use of marijuana needs to be decriminalized and medical uses vigorously explored, there are further important considerations that need to be emphasized.
1) Research regarding the medical use is quite limited. Few well-controlled trial studies are documented. In fact, in a wide range of disorders and symptoms, cannabinoids are generally less effective or less well-tolerated than proven alternative medications at this point.
2) Cannabinoids are relatively expensive, requiring careful consideration with a national health program now being implemented.
3) While it is true that the potential for abuse appears to be limited, in people with addictive tendencies, it may be an entry-level drug for more serious illicit drug abuse.
4) Like any other drug it is not without side effects. Cannabis sativa has more than 400 chemical compounds. Side effects may include psychological, neurological, gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms.
5) “Synthetic” cannabinoids appear to have more significant side effects.
6) Societal benefits are yet to be determined.
It appears that the cost savings from fewer incarcerations and less legal enforcement as well as the enormous tax revenues levied at both the state and federal levels will far outweigh any limited medical benefits that may occur with so-called medical marijuana. In my opinion, I suspect this is the true driving force in its eventual legalization. (Technically, federal statutes still prevent state legalization.)
That ultimately is the fact of medical marijuana and not the myth.
C. VAUGHN STRIMLAN, M.D.