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No Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain

Recently, Minnesota’s poorly implemented medical marijuana program continued to exclude people with intractable pain from the program.

For those that don’t know, the definition of ‘intractable pain’ from Wikipedia is:

… severe, constant pain that is not curable by any known means and which causes a bed or house-bound state and early death if not adequately treated…

The common treatments for intractable pain are opioids. Drugs that fall under the opioid classification include, but not limited to: morphine, oxycodone, and codeine. All highly-addictive drugs that have a high potential for dependence and abuse with long-term use. One would think that with the issues of these medications, why exclude marijuana?

Unfortunately, the advisory panel for the Office of Medical Cannabis decided that intractable pain should not included as a condition for therapeutic treatment with cannabis. The reasoning is frustrating, and laughable. I’ll touch on a few of their points. If you want, you can read the whole decision here.

One of the bullets in their decision:

Medical cannabis is not a magic bullet for treating pain

I think most people would agree with that, but that shouldn’t be confused with “it isn’t good for treating pain.”

Panel members expressed concern that patients eligible to use medical cannabis for pain have expectations that it would provide total relief and that such a perception may lead patients to abandon other proven pain management regimens, such as physical therapy.
I find this part frustrating. This making assumptions about the intelligence of patients, and the knowledge of their condition. They provide no data to suggest that medical marijuana patients stop their other pain management regimens when provided access to marijuana. This reasoning also ignores people that are immobilized due to chronic pain. They expanded on this point with:
Panel members agreed that medical cannabis should not be the first line of therapy in treating intractable pain but that it could be an option after exhausting other standard treatments. Such standard treatments include, but are not limited to, physical therapy, approved medications, and addressing psycho-social issues.
Also hilariously frustrating. Obviously, marijuana isn’t a first line of treating intractable pain. It’s still illegal for most! Even if it was, Minnesota doctors are hesitant prescribing marijuana to people that are already in the program as-is. The patients pushing for this inclusion, already have tried/are trying other pain management regimens. So it already isn’t a first line of treatment. They are seeking a possible different, possibly more effective treatment. One that also reduces the risk of physical dependence and removes accidental overdose. In stark contrast to the current “approved medications.” Another claim cites “lack of scientific knowledge”:
Many times throughout advisory panel meetings, panel members cited the lack of scientific knowledge regarding the effectiveness and potential harmful effects of using medical cannabis, such as addiction, abuse, and adverse effects.
…Except there already has been quite a bit of research into exactly this. Since 1990, there have been multiple studies into the efficacy of marijuana treating pain. Out of 7 peer-reviewed studies, 6 showed positive effects on pain management with cannabis use. 4 of the 6 of those studies were double-blind studies. The one dissenting study, came to an unclear conclusion when marijuana was used to treat capsaicin-induced pain.
Their final, and head-pounding conclusion states:
Due to the lack of knowledge on the effects of medical cannabis and how to best use it to treat pain, (mentioned above) panel members said providers are wary of prescribing or certifying its use. Panel members cited the recent opioid crisis, where good medications were demonized because prescribers used it to treat pain without knowing its proper uses. Even after studying the information available on medical cannabis, panel members said providers do not feel prepared to certify patients for its use.
Apparently, the panel didn’t take their philosophy 101 class, as the ‘opioid crisis’ is a false-equivalence fallacy. No one has died from marijuana use/overdose. Unlike the medications the panel prefers.
As far as one can tell, the advisory panel could have done a little more due diligence into their research. People and their well-being are at stake, and the panel dropped the ball.
Published inActivismDrugsLawMarijuanaPolitics

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