Medical-marijuana industry is in critical condition

The state’s medical-marijuana industry wants to be taken seriously, but its stumbling start and questionable practices have produced exactly the opposite effect.

Its history of shoddy background checks on dispensary applicants exposed a lack of professional oversight that delayed its rollout for several months.

The state’s first dispensary, in Salem, didn’t open until June, and the second, in Brockton, just opened in August.

Patriot Care Corp., which plans to run a dispensary and cultivation facility in Lowell, is working toward a January opening.

And now we learn, thanks to an illuminating article in The Sun last Monday, that the vast majority of medical-marijuana doses provided so far went for treatments not recognized under the existing law.

To date, 2,333 prescriptions, called certifications, have been authorized for the eight state-approved conditions — ALS, Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer and hepatitis C — while another 22,130 approved fall under the “other” category in the state’s database.

That’s because Massachusetts is just one of three states — along with California and New Hampshire — that give doctors the option to dispense medical marijuana for other reasons not officially sanctioned.

What’s the sense of compiling an official list of conditions if doctors can determine whether or not to prescribe medical marijuana? It takes the teeth out of this current law.

So why this additional doctors’ discretion?

We have our suspicions, which center on the current efficacy of marijuana as a prescription drug.

This same question was raised by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which has indicated that aside from helping control the nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy, specific pain syndromes, and some multiple-sclerosis side effects, there’s scant evidence to support other medical benefits.

According to JAMA, those excluded conditions include those approved by our state law, including hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease and Parkinson disease.

Without rigorous trials — like those required by the FDA — to certify a drug, is there no wonder why a doctor’s subjective opinion holds so much weight?

These startling numbers show the need — again — for reform in the state’s toddling medical-marijuana industry. The law should be amended to further review the conditions covered, and to limit vigorously any exceptions to that official list.

Source:   5th Oct. 2015

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