The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 16, 2013

More research needed for medical marijuana

The Daily Item

— Our state legislators have been charged with making a major decision about whether to legalize marijuana, either for recreational or medical use, and this may cause a dilemma for them. Marijuana may not be as benign as some members of the media claim it is.

There are 111 million people in the United States who have tried it, 30 million use it occasionally and 11 million use it every day. There is a potential for addiction, one in 11 adults and one out of six teens who use marijuana become addicted.

Marijuana use can cause respiratory inflammation and potentially chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

But, the most important problem with marijuana may be the changes it causes to take place in the brain. With improved technology, MRIs and functional MRIs, the change can be measured and brain damage and/or atrophy can be seen with marijuana use. When I treat those individuals who have been addicted and have received treatment, even after being sober for several years, many still have difficulty solving math problems and relate that they have never recovered their prior abilities. Marijuana makes a lot of people dream dreams and do nothing. Lack of motivation to accomplish goals is evident in many people who use marijuana on a daily basis.

There has been much debate on the medical use of marijuana. Most of the diseases cited are better treated with other therapies. However, there are seizure disorders in children that have been improved by the use of a unique type of marijuana, more specifically, a certain chemical in that type of marijuana.

There are 365 different chemicals in marijuana and more research must be done to see what is helpful and what may be dangerous. The AMA has asked the federal legislature to change the FDA class from Schedule I to Schedule II so that more research can be done according to evidence based research.

Using marijuana may be your personal preference, driving is your personal preference, but when you put the two together, it becomes mine and everybody else’s problem on the roadways. We, as a society, must make decisions that can help our citizens rather than hurt them. More research must be done.

John P. Pagana, M.D., F.A.A.F.P.,