Alarm at the promotion of numerous marijuana strains to treat serious mental health issues without any medical protocols.

This morning the letter below was sent to the editor of the Denver Post and their marijuana publication The Cannabist .  The letter was expressing alarm at their promotion of numerous marijuana strains to treat serious mental health issues without any medical protocols.  We did receive a response and a news release will follow tomorrow. This letter will be sent to individuals and organizations in our state and nationally working on public health (including mental health and substance abuse) , public policy and enforcement. 

 Feel free to forward this information to anyone you feel appropriate.

Here is the letter sent this morning:

Greg Moore,   Editor,  Denver Post

Ricardo Baca,   EditorThe Cannabist

Dear Mr. Moore and Mr. Baca,

We are writing to express serious concerns regarding The Denver Post’s The Cannabist website’s recommendations of various marijuana strains to “treat” mental illnesses, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  We are writing as concerned professionals with extensive experience in mental health treatment, medicine, and/or public health.

The Denver Post’s web site provides information from listing 92 Colorado specific strains of marijuana with 88 claimed to treat depression, 25 to treat PTSD, 23 for bipolar, and 40 for ADHD (see attached document assembled by Bob Doyle, Chair, Colorado SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) Coalition).  And a few strains are noted to treat cancer.  The improper treatment or delay in effective treatment of mental health issues and major psychiatric illnesses can exacerbate the problem and could lead to additional harm to the patient and/or those around them.

In light of the serious potential impact of your recommendations, including possible delay in medical treatment for serious and potentially life threatening mental illnesses, and the potential for worsening of those illnesses by the marijuana you recommend, we request that you release the data upon which these recommendations for dispensing the specific marijuana strains as a treatment for bipolar disorder, PTSD, ADHD, and depression are based.  We are sending a copy of this letter to medical authorities with knowledge of science and regulatory policies and procedures.

The absence of critical information on the web site for those accepting your advice to use the various marijuana strains is alarming and demonstrates a failure to appreciate the potential implications of your protocol.  For each of the strains, we request to know the recommended dosage, duration, the THC and CBD content, whether you’re recommending they be used with or without FDA approved medication or behavioral treatment for the condition, what contraindications are known, and whether other physical or mental health issues should preclude certain people from using the strain.

We look forward to your prompt reply given the seriousness of the claims on your web site and their potential negative impact on serious psychiatric conditions your web site claims will be “treated” by particular strains of marijuana.


Bob Doyle,  Chair, Colorado SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) Coalition Christian Thurstone, MD   General, child and addiction psychiatrist

A. Eden Evins, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Med School Director, Center for Addiction Medicine, Mass.Gen.Hospital

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