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Physicians' Views On Medical Marijuana



Lester Grinspoon, MD, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, wrote in an Aug. 17, 2003 article published in the Boston Globe:


"Doctors and nurses have seen that for many patients, cannabis is more useful, less toxic, and less expensive than the conventional medicines prescribed for diverse syndromes and symptoms, including multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, migraine headaches, severe nausea and vomiting, convulsive disorders, the AIDS wasting syndrome, chronic pain, and many others."


"The mountain of accumulated anecdotal evidence that pointed the way to the present [marijuana as treatment for HIV neuropathic pain] and other clinical studies also strongly suggests there are a number of other devastating disorders and symptoms for which marijuana has been used for centuries; they deserve the same kind of careful, methodologically sound research.


While few such studies have so far been completed, all have lent weight to what medicine already knew but had largely forgotten or ignored: Marijuana is effective at relieving nausea and vomiting, spasticity, appetite loss, certain types of pain, and other debilitating symptoms. And it is extraordinarily safe -- safer than most medicines prescribed every day. If marijuana were a new discovery rather than a well-known substance carrying cultural and political baggage, it would be hailed as a wonder drug."



Kate Scannell, MD, Co-Director of the Northern California Ethics Department at Kaiser Permanente and author of Death of the Good Doctor, wrote in an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 16, 2003:


"From working with AIDS and cancer patients, I repeatedly saw how marijuana could ameliorate a patient's debilitating fatigue, restore appetite, diminish pain, remedy nausea, cure vomiting and curtail down-to-the-bone weight loss."


Dr. Scannell concluded by noting:

"...almost every sick and dying patient I've ever known who's tried medical marijuana experienced a kinder death."



Andrew Weil, MD, Director of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, stated in a June 6, 2002 article published in the San Francisco Chronicle:


"Like all medicines, marijuana has its drawbacks, particularly in smoked form. It is not a panacea. I support research into safer delivery systems such as low-temperature vaporizers or inhalers, which offer the fast action of inhaled medicine without the irritants found in smoke. Still, I have seen in my own studies that marijuana is less toxic than most pharmaceutical drugs in current use, and is certainly helpful for some patients, including those with wasting syndrome, chronic muscle spasticity and tractable nausea.


As a physician, I am frustrated that I cannot prescribe marijuana for patients who might benefit from it. At the very least I would like to be able to refer them to a safe, reliable, quality-controlled source."



The New York AIDS Coalition's (NYAC) former Executive Director, Joe Pressley, stated during his testimony before the New York State Assembly on Dec. 13, 2002:


"Among physicians specializing in AIDS/HIV, there is a widespread acknowledgement that marijuana represents a significant treatment component for those who have advanced-state HIV symptoms, as well as for those with symptoms caused by the multiple-drug therapies used to control HIV."

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