I’m a lifelong and very partisan Democrat who voted Republican only once in his life. I’m also a psychiatrist who has practiced for 30 years, and the subspecialty that takes up most of my time is addiction psychiatry.
Until a few years ago, I thought medical marijuana was a good thing. It’s for people with cancer, right? They should have one of the best anti-nausea drugs around. But then I saw who actually uses medical marijuana. Several patients asked me for a letter recommending marijuana, or told me they were looking forward to legal medical marijuana in Arizona. And all of these patients had serious histories of substance abuse. They abused meth, alcohol and very clearly marijuana.
They didn’t need marijuana. But some were absolutely convinced they were using it as medicine to treat their psychiatric problems. Two of these patients have since gotten clean and sober and into recovery, and when they did, they no longer even wanted marijuana. They realized their belief that they needed marijuana as medicine was actually a symptom of their substance abuse problem, not an accurate assessment.
Addicts can not only rationalize anything, they truly believe their own rationalizations. Sometimes. Other times they’re just lying to the doctor, trying to scam drugs. The more I look at medical marijuana laws, the more I realize that it’s not really about medical use. It’s a scam to let drug abusers get high without facing any consequences. And for drug abusers who believe their own rationalizations and have convinced themselves that marijuana is good for them, legalization helps them stay in denial. It will generate lots of business for me as an addiction specialist, but that’s not business I want.
At first I also thought that marijuana did help people with certain diseases, like glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. But then I read that the Glaucoma Foundation and National Multiple Sclerosis Society both warn patients against using marijuana. So now I’m questioning if it helps anyone. I’ve talked to doctors who work with HIV patients, cancer patients and chronic pain, and none of them ever recommend marijuana. They say there are better medications and the only patients who really want pot are substance abusers.
Also, while research shows it can help several medical conditions, so can the prescription medications made from marijuana or synthetic THC. The advantage of prescription medicines is that they’re not prescribed by pot doctors who hand out recommendations to anyone who pays their fee.
This website contains what I’ve learned and my reasons for opposing legalization. I’ve tried to lay out the arguments against Arizona’s medical marijuana referendum, and provide links to references either in the media or in the scientific literature. I am still working on this website, and will keep looking for more facts and better documentation.
Ed Gogek, MD