Monday, March 30, 2009

The Banality of Marijuana in Medical Education

In one of our GI lectures, among the interminable pharmacology powerpoint slides that address anti-emetic drugs, the following information appeared:
If an alien guest to our planet perused a pocket pharmacopeia, and had to guess which drug would be "fetishized" over all others, I doubt he'd pick marijuana. Mind you, I'm not convinced that there are many positive benefits for healthy people to take marijuana (and smoking a combustion product is more carcinogenic than using a vaporizer). Yet cannaboids strike me as just another class of drugs with certain indications and side effects, some known, some perhaps unknown. Another anti-vomiting drug, metoclopramide, can lead to tardive dyskinesia (Parkinsonism). Scopalamine, yet another, features a whole slew of anti-cholinergic (antagonistic to the parasympathetic nervous system) effects, and can cause delirium in overdose.

However, when patients with cancer obtain the latter two drugs, we praise modern medicine's ability to provide some alleviation to the horrible side effects of chemotherapy. When patients happen to select the former, we convict their state-law-compliant medical dispensers of crimes punishable by up to 100 years in prison.

3 comments:

storkdok said...

I'm partial to Zofran. It's the only thing that worked when I was pregnant to keep me out of the hospital (as a patient) and I had fewer IVs. Hyperemesis sucks!

Heal Spieler said...

Hey Stork,
But Zofran doesn't really work for motion (flight) sickness!
jk.
-A

Joshua said...

The different legal substances is clearly a matter more of history than of logic. Far more people die in the US due to alcohol related issues than marijuana related issues. It really doesn't help matters that much of the current marijuana regulations arose from racist perceptions of marijuana.

Incidentally, it looks like the Obama administration is letting Charlie Lynch fry:
http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/04/obama_refuses_to_help_charlie.php