This is the second installment of this Top 10 Myths about cannabis. Please see the first installment here.
As we discussed last time, everyone is talking about cannabis these days. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm often leads to distortions of the truth in both overly positive and overly negative ways. Let’s continue our exploration of the top 10 myths about cannabis.
I want to reiterate here this note about conflict of interest (COI): Many of the people who write or speak about the pros or cons of cannabis have a financial interest in their advice. From dispensary groups to NFL players who own CBD manufacturers, you need to dig a bit to be sure you’re getting unbiased advice. I do not manufacture or sell cannabis products. As a physician and cannabinoid specialist, my only purpose is the health of my patients.
6) Cannabis should be used frequently
Like all medicines, as we’ve discussed previously, cannabis can be useful and it can be dangerous if misused. The goal is always to use as little as is needed to achieve a therapeutic end. For many, under the guidance of friends, dispensaries, or the internet, they end up using way too much. Getting the correct and safest dose is crucial – and the route of administration and frequency of use are keys to getting this right. Overall, less is more.
Just for reference, in my patient population the average dose is 10mg of THC component given once in the evening either orally or by inhalation depending on what we’re treating. In the case of chronic pain, 10mg might be used twice a day. Anxiety should never be treated more than once per day and almost always dosed at night. You can read more on the approach to these various diagnoses in other articles on this blog.
7) Doctors don’t know what they’re doing
I find this statement, commonly said in the cannabis world, to be self-serving for those who sell cannabis and aren’t physicians. Trying to discredit those of us who have studied for many years and who have dedicated our lives to bettering the lives of our patients is only necessary in an industry that wants unfettered ability to sell products regardless of whether those products are actually good for the patient.
Further, I would point out that even the most cannabis-naïve doctor still knows far more about human biology and disease than anyone else in the room (I’m looking at you, budtender). It’s true that many of my colleagues don’t know that much about cannabis medicine specifically, but they do know the broader issues and how to keep you safe. The best docs know what they don’t know and will refer you to someone like me who does know the details. No one should be left to fend for themselves at the dispensary.
8) Dispensaries are good places to get information
This is a key point and good follow-up to the above section: dispensaries are there to sell weed. They are not a good source of information or medical guidance. Their desire to sell as much product as they can creates a conflict-of-interest. I’m aware of some dispensaries that even use sales quotas and other tactics to get their budtenders to sell more.
Further, I’m aware that it is currently fashionable to look at learned people as “elite” rather than dedicated, but the average budtender simply does not have the knowledge, dedication, or education that a physician has. In fact, the average budtender knows about as much as a Starbuck barista. I strongly urge you not to get your healthcare at Starbucks or the cannabis equivalent.
9) Cannabis will make you stupid or unmotivated
As you know, cannabis was outlawed in the US in 1937 and again in 1970. In the 50+ years since it was outlawed for “medical” reasons there have been countless studies attempting to prove that cannabis will affect your cognitive function and/or your motivation. There is some truth here, but it is often misrepresented to create stigma. Here’s what we really know:
Cannabis will affect your cognition while you’re intoxicated. It can also affect your cognition for several days afterwards. However, the degree of impairment is minor and becomes less intrusive over time. In fact, for some the small degree of cognitive slowing is part of the benefit, for example in ADHD.
In long-term studies of healthy volunteers (aka recreational cannabis users), only an 8 point drop in verbal memory has been reported after 30 years of “heavy use” with no measurable change in executive function, mathematical or spatial function.
Further, in studies of ill patients (not healthy folk) cognitive function has been seen to improve! Why? Because been sick isn’t good for cognitive function either, so relieving symptoms with cannabis seems to lead to net improvement in function.
Last, the whole “unmotivated stoner” image, a la Cheech and Chong, is simply fictitious. There have been many studies on this but no good ones support this conclusion.
10) Products with a COA are safe
Safety is the number one priority for any medication. While the FDA has a rigorous process for evaluating pharmaceuticals for both safety and efficacy, there are no such measures for legal cannabis products beyond basic screens for contaminants (like heavy metals, mold, and pesticides). Many cannabis products try to establish their credibility and safety by providing a Certificate of Analysis (COA). While I would run from any product that didn’t have a COA, I wouldn’t trust any product just because they did. COA’s are notoriously rigged, falsified, or downright faked.
How can you safely buy a cannabis product? Only buying from your state-legal program is safe. You CANNOT SAFELY BUY ANY CANNABIS PRODUCT ON THE INTERNET! Please don’t do it.
Consult with a Qualified Boston Medical Marijuana Expert Today
Those considering using THC, CBD, or any type of medicine found in cannabis to help manage their condition should consider speaking to a trained medical expert who is knowledgeable about using cannabis therapeutically. Massachusetts medical marijuana doctor Jordan Tishler, M.D. sits on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and has years of experience helping patients treat pain and other ailments using cannabis. He and the team at InhaleMD stand ready to assist patients in determining whether medical marijuana is right for them. For more information, or to set up a virtual consultation with the team at InhaleMD, call us at (617) 477-8886 today.