Doctors Debate Telling Patients to Smoke Marijuana

Perhaps you know whether you’d want to use marijuana to relieve severe pain or nausea. But if you were a doctor, what would you tell patients who asked about taking something that’s against federal law?

The New England Journal of Medicine poses the question to its readers and on Wednesday presented arguments for and against from doctors.

The hypothetical patient is 68-year-old Marilyn, who has cancer and who says the standard medications are not relieving her pain and nausea. She lives in a state that allows medical marijuana use and says her family could grow it. She is asking her primary care doctor for advice.

“I endorse thoughtful prescription of medicinal marijuana for patients in situations similar to Marilyn’s,” writes Dr. J. Michael Bostwick, representing one side. Doctors should turn to marijuana only when “conservative options” fail, he says.

“Simply to allow a patient with uncontrolled symptoms of metastatic breast cancer to leave the office with a recommendation to smoke marijuana is to succumb to therapeutic nihilism,” Drs. Gary Reisfield and Robert DuPont write on the other side.

– Read the entire article at The Los Angeles Times.