Missouri Doctors Oppose Medical Marijuana
Doctors in Missouri face tough times in a state where voters approved medical marijuana. They don’t want to prescribe it.
For the Kansas City Star, Andy Marso wrote, “Missouri made medical marijuana legal, but most doctors don’t want any part of it.” (See copy on Medical Xpress).
Here are the key take-home points from this report:
- Kansas City doctors “opposed every marijuana measure on the ballot.”
- Ethical doctors don’t want to give patients substances lacking standard dosages or purities.
- Without knowing what the raw plant does for a condition, it’s impossible to measure risks and benefits.
- Doctors are very much opposed to giving permission for smoking marijuana.
- In other states, medical marijuana cards often act like permission slips than prescriptions.
- Shady doctors willing to prescribe medical marijuana cards stand to make a lot of money.
- The new law puts ethical doctors in a difficult spot when patients want a card with their blessing.
- Ethical doctors hope that new state guidelines won’t order them to prescribe cards when asked.
“Based upon the publicity, individuals will go to their physicians and ask for marijuana, which actually puts physicians in a little bit of a difficult spot because there’s a lack of data to indicate when is a potentially good time, if there is one, to be able to suggest the use of marijuana.”
Marijuana research has been hampered because the federal government deems it a Schedule I controlled substance. But it has shown promise in treating pain and psychiatric or neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, and some parts of the plant have already been incorporated into FDA-approved products for treating epilepsy and for nausea caused by chemotherapy.
But Mammen said marijuana, like other drugs or even herbal supplements, can interact dangerously with other medications patients might be taking, and doctors also need to be concerned about side effects like vomiting or, for people with mental illness, psychotic episodes.
Marso shows what can happen with so-called medical marijuana bills. Jeff Howell, a regulator in Missouri, doesn’t want to see in Missouri what has happened in California: “The important thing for me is that it doesn’t turn into Venice Beach (California), where you have storefronts that say ‘Come in and get your marijuana card.'” That is not responsible medicine.
Marijuana is just a plant. So is lettuce. So is stinging nettle. So is poison ivy, castor bean, and hemlock. When Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19), He was not throwing responsibility out the window. When the Lord showed Peter a vision of clean and unclean animals, including reptiles, and said, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat” (Acts 10), He was not telling Peter to pick up a venomous adder and munch on it. We have to use our brains. The Lord’s point was the the strict, objective Levitical dietary laws for Jews no longer applied to the church. Peter could still eat Jewish food (St. Peter’s fish, for example) if he wanted to, but he was no longer obligated to restrict his diet to foods declared “clean” under the Law of Moses. Evidence and logic will reveal, through experimental science, which plants and animals are healthy and which are not.
With this in mind, what about medical marijuana? If it is just a plant, why worry? Aren’t many drugs derived from plants? The reason: plants can be very healthy or very toxic, with a wide range in between. We as consumers of plants have different health challenges, and have different genes and different susceptibilities to side effects. It will take years of clinical trials with many participants to establish statistical significance for conditions that might benefit from medical marijuana. Importantly, those dosages have to be regulated so that pills containing the active ingredients are known in detail, and all side effects accounted for. That has not been the case up till now. In fact, there are concerns that commercially grown marijuana has much higher THC content than the natural plants (THCs are the molecules that cause the mental impairment). That’s why Missouri doctors don’t want to be forced to prescribe it. They don’t know what their patients will be getting.
The medical marijuana steamroller would run over ethics if not controlled. Legalization activists are often motivated by their own desire to smoke it without regard for the societal consequences. They use “medical marijuana” as a cover for their own desires. Those desires often have little to do with medical progress, and more to do with personal pleasure at the cost of sound judgment. In fact, many of them want to push cannabis onto other citizens in the form of cannabis-laden snack foods, which unsuspecting consumers might not even know are tainted with THCs, in order to get more people hooked and thereby spread cannabis use throughout society. Shady companies are capitalizing on the marijuana legalization movement, hoping to get rich without regard for their victims, just like others do with alcohol, tobacco, and gambling. A healthy government needs responsible citizens to vote wisely. It should not promote activities that impair logical reasoning, put innocent citizens at risk of car accidents, create unhealthy habits, and potentially cause permanent brain damage in the youth. Freedom should be freedom for good, not license for evil.
The day may come when the active ingredients in cannabis become better known, such that pills for certain conditions can be prescribed safely. Most likely, smoking marijuana will NOT be on the prescribed treatment list! But we say, more power to researchers conducting ethical clinical trials. We agree; marijuana is just a plant. It deserves to be studied. Treatments have already shown it can benefit epilepsy in certain cases where nothing else has worked. There may be undiscovered miracle cures for some untreatable diseases. And for patients dying in pain, Proverbs 31:1-9 indicates (by analogy with “strong drink”) that marijuana could be used in such cases. But just as the Bible condemns drunkenness, it condemns getting “high” on anything that robs a person of his judgment or ability to serve God and others. Speaking on our liberty in Christ, Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything.” (I Corinthians 6:12). Paul said in II Corinthians 3:17, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” but in II Timothy 1:7 he tempered that truth with a counterbalance, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
As always, the Bible contains the principles we need to sort through human controversies with godly wisdom.