synthetic THC, and Marinol is approved by the medical community and the FDA, the nationâs watchdog over unsafe and harmful food and drug products.
Why not just smoke it? Smoking is generally a poor way to deliver medicine. As a doctor, I assure you that it is almost impossible to administer safe, regulated dosages of medicines in smoked form. Morphine, for example,has proven to be a medically valuable drug, but no responsible physician endorses smoking opium or heroin.
Another reason for not smoking marijuana for its medical properties is the issue of tar. While tar is one of the most dangerous aspects of smoking tobacco, the tar level in marijuana is 400 percent higher than in tobacco. Of course, even heavy pot smokers do not smoke pot at the same level that tobacco smokers smoke cigarettes. If they did, they would have far more problems to worry about than tar.
There are profound reasons for addiction medicine specialists, as well as other physicians, to look askance at the current so-called medical marijuana programs in California as well as in other states.
Rather than further disgrace the medical profession with absurd claims of medical marijuana, it would make more sense to legalize marijuana as a recreational intoxicant, tax it, and use the revenue for public education and medical rehabilitation of those who have suffered marijuanaâs negative consequences.
Just as the vast majority of people who drink are neither problem drinkers nor alcoholics, the majority of adults who smoke marijuana are not problem smokers or drug addicts. My concerns are in two categories.
First, because marijuana is illegal, there are no regulatory standards of production and manufacture regarding content and potency. Hence, one cannot state that marijuana used properly is safe because there is no definition of
nor is there astandard safe dosage. Second, there is a predictable percentage of people who, due to genetics and other factors, will manifest the disease of addiction. One out of six people who smoke marijuana regularly develop problems requiring some type of medical intervention.
Like all other mind-altering drugs, marijuana is definitely dangerous in combination with any motor vehicle. It affects alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. Marijuana also makes it hard to judge distances. The worst-case scenario is combining marijuana with even a small amount of alcohol. The two together are more dangerous on the road than either drug alone.
BARBITURATES AND TRANQUILIZERS
Barbiturates were first used in medicine in the early 1900s and became popular in the 1960s and 1970s for treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and seizure disorders. They evolved into recreational drugs that some people used to reduce inhibitions, decrease anxiety, and to treat unwanted side effects of other illicit drugs.
Barbiturate use and abuse has declined dramatically since the 1970s, mainly because a safer group of sedative-hypnotics called benzodiazepines is being prescribed. In the day, barbiturates abuse caused, or was significantly involved, in many of the most high-profile overdose deaths in the entertainment industry including those of Judy Garland (1969), Jimi Hendrix (1970), and Elvis Presley (1977).
Medications such as Valium and Xanax are some of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine medications, also known astranquilizers, in the United States. There are numerous uses for these medications, but when people take them who donât need them, there are problems. People at risk for addiction to these substances are also at risk for alcoholism. The combination of the two is deadly.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines is similar to alcohol withdrawal and can be a dangerous process if not done properly. One should never stop these drugs cold turkey but instead taper off the doses, as directed by a physician.
While benzodiazepine was designed as a safer alternative to barbiturates, it too was involved in some