The idea of “medical” marijuana is spreading as more states turn to legalizing the drug for medicinal purposes. Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia have made marijuana legal for medicinal use. Another 17 states have passed laws to allow for the use of CBD, a chemical compound of marijuana. As the debate continues, there are some important facts to understand about taking marijuana for medicinal reasons and the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Chuck Rosenberg wants all of us to know what they are.
What the DEA Says
In a report last November on CBS, Rosenberg rejected the idea of using pot as medicine, calling it a “joke.” The DEA chief told reporters that smoking the leaves of the marijuana plant, which is what many in favor of legalizing medical marijuana is referring to, has never been shown to be safe or effective in any type of medicinal capacity.
“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal – because it’s not,” Rosenberg was quoted as saying by CBS. “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine – it’s a joke.”
Rosenberg’s statements came at the same time the DEA released its 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, which shows use of all illicit drugs other than cocaine is on the rise in the U.S. The report also notes that more than 120 people die daily from drug overdoses in this country. Marijuana was listed in the report as the most used illicit drug, with approximately 19.8 million users in 2013 alone. Pot was also used by more than 80 percent of all illicit drug users overall.
What the National Institute on Drug Abuse Says
According to NIDA, the term “medicinal marijuana” refers to use of the “whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its extracts to treat a disease or symptom.” NIDA notes that studies are currently being conducted on two of the cannabinoids found in marijuana, THC and CBD. THC is the ingredient in marijuana that causes the “high.” The ingredient is currently found in FDA-approved medications to improve appetite and control nausea in patients with AIDs and cancer.
CBD does not affect the mind or behavior of the user, but may be beneficial in managing pain and inflammation and possibly controlling seizures. This ingredient continues to be examined for its medicinal benefits but is not currently found in any FDA-approved medications.
What the FDA Says
On its website, the Food and Drug Administration acknowledges that both patients and caregivers are looking for effective ways to manage difficult symptoms that don’t respond to current medication options. However, the agency also states that it has not approved marijuana as a “safe and effective drug for any indication.” The process by which the FDA follows to approve new drugs is a long and arduous one, to ensure no stone is left unturned when determining the safety and efficacy of each one.
The FDA also notes on its website that when approval of a drug has not yet been granted, the “purity and potency of the drug” can vary tremendously, leaving users unsure of safety and efficacy each time they take that substance.
Getting Help for Marijuana Abuse
At West Coast Recovery Centers, we work with patients daily that have suffered significant physical and mental harm as a result of marijuana abuse. Marijuana, like any illicit substance can cause long-term damage and even lead to addiction in some users. If you are dealing with marijuana abuse yourself or with someone you love, contact West Coast Recovery Centers today at 442-333-6199.