Medical Cannabis Might Be The Answer – But Are They Asking The Right Question

Photo Credit: National Pain Report

A CNN Special on Sunday night explored the concept that medical cannabis could help solve or ease the opioid epidemic.

It’s the latest—and most aggressive—endorsement of medical cannabis by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta who famously changed his mind on the efficacy of medical cannabis/marijuana five years ago.

Read this 2013 article on why Gupta changed his mind on medical cannabis.

The CNN special used former NFL lineman Kyle Turley and current Detroit Lion Mike James as spokesperson for the efficacy of medical cannabis.

James is the more interesting story because he’s still an active player.  James has asked the NFL, which tests for marijuana and punishes players if it’s found in a test, for a therapeutic exemption since he uses medical cannabis for his pain.

The NFL only allows exemptions if the drugs are approved for use—and, of course, cannabis is not.

James is putting his career on the line.

The NFL seems to be softening its previous hardline stance on that issue—and the NFL Players Association (as the National Pain Report published in 2017) has been pressuring the league to study the use of marijuana as pain management.

A group called “Doctors for Cannabis Regulation” was highlighted. The group’s website says that according to a WebMD/Medscape poll, most American physicians believe that medical cannabis should be legal, and hundreds of thousands of doctors now support legalization of cannabis for consenting adults.

The special also explored the conundrum that since cannabis is a controlled substance, getting approval and the supply to conduct a study is difficult.

For Yasmin Hurd, Ph.D., the Ward-Coleman Chair of Translational Neuroscience and the Director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai, it took four years to get approval to study medical cannabis.

She likened coming off opioids as similar to the side effects of chemotherapy.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who would not be interviewed for the special, has demonstrated remarkable persistence in fighting the legalization of marijuana and the use of cannabis for medical research and treatment.

He continues to believe that marijuana is a “gateway drug”.

As the special pointed out, no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose.

Dr. Mark Wallace of the University of California San Diego is an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist who believe that Attorney General Sessions is wrong and that medical cannabis has a role to play in treatment.