Category Archives: Medical Marijuana

Maryland children get sick as Big Marijuana pushes Agenda

Gummy bears in Southern Maryland Middle School

Five schoolchildren were hospitalized in southern Maryland after a middle school student brought and shared marijuana-laced food to school.   Following an investigation, the St. Mary’s County sheriff has charged a father from Great Mills with reckless endangerment.

The man’s daughter and four other students had a reaction to marijuana laced gummy bears on January 2, the first day after winter break.  All five students reported feeling ill, and they were taken to the hospital in Leonardtown.   All children survived and went home to their parents or guardians, but not without a lot of drama.   The event triggered a police investigation, and a father has been charged.

In the affidavit filed, the father claims that “the edible gummy candies were given to him by an associate who came to his house for a party.”   This man left his candies in a plastic bag in his bedroom, knowing they were easily accessible to the daughter.

Maryland’s “medical” marijuana program opened its dispensaries about two months ago.  Southern Maryland Relief, LLC, is the only dispensary in southern Maryland.

Marijuana gummy incident in New Mexico

Also in January, a fifth grader in New Mexico brought gummy bears to school, perhaps unaware that they were tainted with THC.   The girl shared the candy with fourth graders at Albuquerque School of Excellence’s cafeteria.  Three students ate a single gummy, and the girl who brought the THC-laced gummies ate three or four pieces. A local TV station reported the incident on January 18.

The gummies, brought from home, came from a box labeled ‘Incredibles.’  ‘Incredibles’ brand medical marijuana told a TV station they do not make gummy bears and suspect someone counterfeited the logo.

The school suspended the girl for one week, although the administration believes it was an accidental mistake.  The girl’s parents said the candies were medicinal.  But it shouldn’t be so hard to keep medicine away from children without getting other people’s children sick, too.

Last week in Chicago, many students became sick after eating tainted gummies and chocolates.   Fourteen students from the elementary school in Humboldt Park needed to be hospitalized.

The Maryland, llinois, New Mexico incidents demonstrate how difficult is to control access to children once a state legalizes “medical” marijuana.  We reported several other incidences of school children accessing gummies and other treats last year.

Judicial overreach in Illinois leads to judge’s flawed decision

Medical marijuana advocates want and need chronic patients. There’s no evidence that marijuana cures pain.  It only lessens pain for a brief period of time. Anyone who uses marijuana for pain will have to come back for more.  Americans for Safe Access, a stepchild of Drug Policy Alliance and Marijuana Policy Project, has at least two staff members working full-time to lobby for Big Marijuana, suggesting that it’s as an alternative to pain pills.

Last week Judge Mitchell of Cook County declared that the state of Illinois must expand qualifying conditions for medical marijuana to include pain. The ruling came after a lawsuit filed by Ann Mednick, 58, who says she needs it for osteoarthritis.  Ann uses pain pills, but wants a treatment with fewer side effects.

Since when are judges allowed to decide on science and medicine?  Never, but the case was litigated in a very corrupt county, Cook County, Illinois.   (Is corruption the reason why media reports are not reporting that the tainted candy in Humboldt Park had THC?)

The ruling came at the same time when two other big stories to contradict the judge’s decision are also in the news.

Charles Johnston, a man from Illinois was recently arrested in Iowa for shooting at trucks indiscriminately, due to a grudge.   When police searched his car, they found prescription pill bottles full of marijuana, a marijuana pipe and a cigarette box with a marijuana joint.   Obviously, Mr. Johnston’s use of marijuana for pain triggered a violent eruption, possibly with psychosis.  Johnston teaches Psychology at Harper Community College, which also happens to be in Cook County.

Medical Marijuana Fraud in Canada

It would be interesting to know if Judge Mitchell and Ann Mednick heard about what happened to another woman who took “medical” marijuana for her arthritis pain.

Dawn Rae Downton, 60, took marijuana for inflammatory arthritis and developed constant vomiting, according to reports from Canada.  Downton, 60, is suing a dispensary in Nova Scotia for giving her eight months of sickness from their tainted product. Massachusetts and California, as well as Canada, have had widespread problems with tainted marijuana products, especially those claiming to be “medical.”

As New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned in 2014, medical marijuana is slippery slope.  It poisons people while creating addiction, including children who will always be attracted to gummy bears.  Big Marijuana pushes its agenda quickly in order to avoid exposure of their medical scam.

Part 2: PTSD, Medical Marijuana Deadly Combination for family

 Vet with PTSD Shot Wife and Stepfather

Read  Part 1: Tragic Tale of Two Families named Kirk  Shane Kirk and his family were living with the mother and stepfather in southwestern Oklahoma, when the troubled veteran shot his wife Jessica and his stepfather.

Jessica Kirk was a nurse who had graduated from nursing school in  December, 2016. Sometime in the past year, the family moved from California, where medical marijuana has been easy to obtain for a couple of decades. Jessica’s Facebook posts reveal how much she loved being the mother to three sons, Continue reading

Celebrity doctors pushing medical marijuana need others’ evidence

Celebrity doctors who channel their education into the pursuit of fame should be especially careful of misleading people with harmful advice.  One wonders why Dr. Sanjay Gupta and more recently, Dr. Oz, are singing the praises of medical marijuana. Most likely the marijuana industry has been working hard to get their support.

Dr. Bertha Madras, Harvard University

On the other hand, Dr. Bertha Madras, Harvard Professor, explained five reasons marijuana is not medicine in the Washington Post.  She coined the phrase, “It’s not a war on drugs, but defense of our brains.”   Dr. Madras will be giving a webinar Continue reading

marijuana-for pain

Current Research on Marijuana for Pain is Lacking

Is Marijuana Use for Pain Driving Negative Societal Effects?

by Kenneth Finn, MD

Pain is the most common diagnosis associated with marijuana being recommended for medical use 1. With more states moving towards accepting marijuana use for medical purposes, there is a call from the medical and scientific community for more research and
evidence that it actually works for common pain conditions.

Out of the top 20 medical diagnoses presenting to the primary care physician nationally, there are only 3 that are associated with a painful condition 2: spinal disorders (i.e., lower back pain), arthropathies and related disorders (i.e., knee arthritis), and abdominal pain.

There were no other pain diagnoses in the top 20 diagnoses which present to the primary care physician for treatment, including cancer pain or neuropathic pain.

What does the medical literature tell us about the use of marijuana for pain? In 2011, The British Journal of Pharmacology released a paper looking at the use for cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain 3. They narrowed a broad literature review to only 18 trials with a total of 925 participants. Most of the trials reviewed studied neuropathic pain (72%), including HIV neuropathy, in multiple sclerosis (3 trials), and single studies looked at arthritis or chronic spinal pain. There were only 4 studies which looked at smoked cannabis and in neuropathic pain only. Six studies evaluated synthetic cannabinoids (Dronabinol, Nabilione) for pain (off-label use).

From these trials, the average number of patients was 49 with average duration of 22 days, some of which were one week long. Despite their conclusion that cannabinoids may be helpful for chronic non-cancer pain, they note there were limitations with small sample sizes, modest effects, and stressed the need for larger trials of longer duration to determine safety and efficacy.

In 2015, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released an article on cannabinoids for medical use 4. Chronic pain was assessed in 28 studies, involving 63 reports and 2454 participants. 13 studies evaluated nabiximols (not available in the US), 4 for smoked THC, 6 evaluated synthetic THC, 3 for oromucosal spray, 1 for oral THC, 1 vaporized cannabis. The majority of studies looked at some form of neuropathic pain or cancer pain. Two studies were at low risk of bias, 9 at unclear risk, and 17 at high risk of bias. Studies generally suggested improvements in pain measures associated with cannabinoids but these did not reach statistical significance in most individual studies. Despite that, they concluded that there was moderate-quality evidence to suggest that cannabinoids may be beneficial for the treatment of chronic neuropathic or cancer pain (smoked THC and nabiximols). Note these are less common pain conditions that present to the physician for treatment nationally. The authors noted an increased risk of short-term adverse effects with cannabinoid use, including some serious adverse effects. Common adverse effects included asthenia, balance problems, confusion, dizziness, disorientation, diarrhea, euphoria, drowsiness, dry mouth, fatigue, hallucination, nausea, somnolence, and vomiting.

In 2017, The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine released a paper on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids 5. It may be important to note that none of the authors had a background in Anesthesia or Pain Medicine. The authors felt the above JAMA article was the most comprehensive and that the medical condition most often associated with chronic pain in that article was a neuropathy and a majority of studies evaluated treatment with nabiximols, which are not available in the United States.

The committee found that only a handful of studies evaluated the use of cannabis and that many of the cannabis products sold in state regulated markets bear little resemblance to the products available for research at the federal level in the United States. They also note that very little is known regarding efficacy, dose, routes of administration, or side effects of commonly used and commercially available products in the United States. Despite that, they still concluded that “cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults”.

The above noted papers are all that is available to the public and medical community and are the only information available regarding treatment of pain with marijuana. Despite that, the public has embraced that marijuana can treat all pain conditions and state governments have followed suit, without scientific evidence, and have allowed an industry to prosper on the thin ice of what is currently and scientifically available.

It is important to understand that pain covers a broad spectrum of disorders and pain of different origins does not necessarily respond the same to different medications. It is also important to understand that dispensary cannabis is considered a generic substance without defined or accepted dosing guidelines and will vary in purity as well as potency. It may also contain hundreds of other compounds, some of which may have physiologic activity. Cannabinoids are purified components of the plant which have been isolated in a
laboratory and have more scientific foundation, but are currently not available for study or use in pain conditions in the United States.

Since de facto legalization in Colorado in 2009, there has been a significant increase in public health and safety concerns, which include utilization of the health care system, an increase in adolescent substance use treatment for cannabis, as well as an increase in marijuana related driving fatalities 6. The addiction rates are reportedly 9% in the adult and roughly 18% in the adolescent, which was based on the potency of marijuana nearly 20 years ago. The potency has significantly increased in the past 5 years alone, so we are now in uncharted waters and unable predict the long term effects or addiction rates of currently available, highly potent products, with variable delivery systems.

As the number of medical marijuana patients increased in Colorado, there appears to be a parallel increase in the number of adolescents needing substance use treatment, most often for cannabis. Colorado is now contending with a huge opioid and heroin epidemic and despite the widespread availability of Narcan, does not appear to have leveled off or curb the number of opioid or heroin deaths in the state which continue to rise 7.

Although the concept of using marijuana to decrease opioid use is attractive and there is little data to suggest that may be the case. According to the CDC, the number of drug overdose deaths in Colorado has continued to increase, ahead of the national average 8. The above problems are now landing in the laps of other groups such as law enforcement and mental health providers who are pushing back and are straining their respective resources.

In summary, the problem of increased marijuana use has origin in its purported use for pain, but the medical literature is completely void of evidence for the treatment of common pain conditions with cannabinoids or cannabis. Current medical literature suggests benefit in less common pain conditions, with products not commercially available in the United States, or with synthetic THC, not with dispensary cannabis. The variability of available products changes regularly and their use in medicine, particularly pain, is unproven. The end game is in the court of law enforcement, mental health providers, the medical community, and our educational systems, at unknown societal costs, which are only now
becoming apparent.

Kenneth-Finn-MD
Dr. Kenneth Finn is a pain medicine specialist

Kenneth Finn, MD
Board Certified, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Board Certified, Pain Management
Board Certified, Pain Medicine
American Board of Pain Medicine
Exam Council
Executive Board
Appeals Committee

 
 
 
 
 

1. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/
CHED_MMR_Report_April_2017.pdf
2. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ahcd/namcs_summary/
2013_namcs_web_tables.pdf, Table 16
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21426373/
4. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2338251
5. https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24625/the-health-effects-of-cannabis-andcannabinoids-
the-current-state
6. http://www.rmhidta.org/html/
2016%20FINAL%20Legalization%20of%20Marijuana%20in%20Colorado%20The%20Imp
act.pdf
7. http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/heroin-deaths-skyrocket-756-
percent-in-colorado-over-15-years
8. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data-visualization/drug-poisoning-mortality/

See Dr. Finn’s article, The Clinical Conundrum of Medical Marijuana

See PopPot’s previous article, Marijuana Can’t Substitute for Pain Pills