August 30  To the New York Times

Dr. Marcus Bachhuber and Colleen Barry, summarizing their important study in the Times, write that they asked “Could the availability of medical marijuana reduce the hazards of prescription painkillers?” And they were able to document an encouraging answer: “Our findings, which were published on Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that this unexpected benefit of medical marijuana laws does exist.”

My quibble is with the word “unexpected.”  California doctors who monitor cannabis use by their patients have determined that opioid use declines by about 50 percent when cannabis is available as a substitute or complement. That the bad consequences of opioid use, from constipation to death by overdose, would also decline was foreseen by Tod Mikuriya, MD, and his colleagues in the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, who published relevant data in 2007 (the year JAMA first mentioned the endocannabinoid system in an ad from Sanofi-Aventis). 

The media ridicule “potdocs” who issue approvals after cursory exams, and ignore the serious specialists who have made and reported significant findings about marijuana as medicine. Their marginalization —a corollary of prohibition— ought to end. 

Fred Gardner

managing editor, O’Shaughnessy’s