By Ken Finn, MD, Springs Rehabilitation, PC, Colorado Springs
Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been supporting the use of marijuana to curb the opioid crisis. Dr. Gupta does not have specialty training in Pain Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pain Management, or Anesthesia. I have been practicing Pain Medicine in Colorado for 24 years and I have seen patients referred to me on very high dose opioids, reporting very high levels of pain, and using marijuana for pain control, making no clinical sense. In discussions with these patients, and overall, a significant percent report that their use of marijuana does not help with their presenting pain symptoms. I have had a rare patient who opt to taper their opioids and use marijuana, and all of those continue to report high levels of pain. Continue reading →
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.
There is tremendous compassion for those children with seizures who try cannabidiol (CBD). For example, Alexis, an 11-year-old girl who speaks on behalf of an extract she uses to treat seizures, is a superstar. It is heart-warming to know that she has been helped. Alexis has a wonderful heart and is charming. More recently she has been working with a group that insists the inclusion of THC for seizure medication.
The marijuana industry hopes for political gains by promoting Alexis’ story. The public needs to give equal consideration to the families whose children died because of marijuana. Some have told their stories on blogs such as MomsStrong.org and Parents Opposed to Pot.
Some of the children who initially get help from CBD have bad luck later. Lita Pawliw’s daughter died on February 3, 2017. It’s heartbreaking. In 2015, the province of Alberta relented in letting her little girl use the CBD instead of the prescribed pharmaceutical drugs. While pharmaceutical medicines made her dull and lifeless, her family discovered that CBD made her lively and fun. The online petition to pay for funeral expenses did not explain how she died.
The fact that CBD treatments for seizures sometimes backfire is a message that needs to get out to the public. Whenever you use the term “medical marijuana,” teens think the marijuana that gets you high is harmless. For the subset who goes into marijuana psychosis, marijuana can be lethal. Those making money from selling CBD aren’t required to give the warnings that pharmaceutical companies must give. Their treatment is a fad and hasn’t met the long-term test of time. Do people realize that the Ketogenic Diet has a higher success rate than CBD?
Point Out the Dangers of High-THC Pot
The product that helps Alexis’ seizures should not be called marijuana. It is predominately cannabidiol (CBD), one of more than 60 cannabinoids in the marijuana plant. The extract she takes is suspended in olive oil. It is derived from marijuana, but it’s not “just a plant.”
Back in the ’70s, when there were equal parts THC and CBD, people were less likely to develop psychosis. (A landmark study on low-THC marijuana from Sweden determined a person could use 50 times before they were at risk for psychosis. ) With most high-THC marijuana of today, the risk is higher. The public doesn’t understand the difference between the pot of the ’70s and the pot of today. It’s time for television doctors, such Dr. Phil, Dr. Gupta, Dr. Drew and Dr. Oz, to expose the truth about THC.
Alexis’ seizures began at age 7. Although Alexis and her family moved from Texas to Colorado, CBD sold as “hemp oil” is available throughout the country. “Charlotte’s Web,” which was featured on a CNN show by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is available throughout the country because it’s considered Hemp Oil. Charlotte’s Web and Haleigh’s Hope — which Alexis uses — is CBD, not “a plant.”
Doctors with The Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado can explain the challenge of giving any THC to children. They also explain the difference between cannabidiol and whole marijuana. Why can’t those who bring Alexis’ story to the public explain it properly? They argue that CBD only, such as the Epidiolex offered by GW Pharmaceuticals out of Great Britain, is not enough. We caution that any THC in a minor could be brain damaging.
People are basically uneducated on the differences between CBD and most marijuana, despite Dr. Gupta’s explanations in his TV special. Since celebrity doctors have promoted the upside of CBD, it’s time to explain the downside of marijuana. It’s time for celebrity doctors to educate the public about how THC can damage the brain.
On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, Judge Kimberly J Mueller of the US Court in Sacramento upheld the constitutionality of marijuana’s Schedule I designation in the 5-tier classification set down by Congress in 1970. Schedule I drugs must have a high potential for abuse.
On April 16, 2015, Governor Butch Otter of Idaho issued an executive order allowing for expanded access to Epidiolex, a pure, pharmacy version of cannabidiol (CBD). He vetoed a bill that would have allowed non-pharmacy grade CBD for the treatment of seizures.