'Medical' marijuana — we should look before we leap

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The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has stated that “based on studies to date — and the fact that long-term use of marijuana may be associated with significant, serious side effects — it is the opinion of the society’s Medical Advisory Board that there are currently insufficient data to recommend marijuana or its derivatives as a treatment for MS symptoms. Research is continuing to determine if there is a possible role for marijuana or its derivatives in the treatment of MS. In the meantime, other well-tested, FDA-approved drugs are available to reduce spasticity.”

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry “is concerned about the negative impact of medical marijuana on youth. Adolescents are especially vulnerable to the many adverse development, cognitive, medical, psychiatric and addictive effects of marijuana. Adolescent marijuana users are more likely than adult users to develop marijuana dependence, and their heavy use is associated with increased incidence and worsened course of psychotic, mood and anxiety disorders. The ‘medicalization’ of smoked marijuana has distorted the perception of the known risks and purposed benefits of this drug.”

• Finally, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that any “change in the legal status of marijuana, even if limited to adults, could affect the prevalence of use among adolescents.”

D’Amato made clear that he supports Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Compassionate Care Act, which, if passed by the State Legislature, would allow 20 hospitals across New York to distribute marijuana to patients. Twenty states now allow “medical” marijuana. Our Democratically controlled Assembly has traditionally passed legislation supporting it, while the Republican-controlled Senate has rejected it.

The Legislature would do well to check with doctors and scientists before voting on CCA.

Scott Brinton is senior editor of the Bellmore and Merrick Heralds and an adjunct professor at the Hofstra University Graduate Journalism Program. Comments? SBrinton@liherald.com or (516) 569-4000 ext. 203. Brinton’s profile and posts can be found at facebook.com/scottabrinton.

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