Don’t call it POT! A new 60 year old male patient yells at me when I questioned his obvious stoned state. “When was your last hit of pot?” I had asked as part of the appointment visit he had made to have his shortness of breath checked out.
Morbidly obese and openly honest about his 40+ years of smoking or ingesting cannabis in one form or another, he was in obvious denial that this bad habit had anything to do with his progressive fatigue and shortness of breath.
He abruptly and inappropriately brushed off any line of questioning to this fact and felt that I was politically biased about the “whole cannabis” controversy.
Knowing that he was not is any state to be reasoned with, I disentangled myself from the conversation and since his vitals were otherwise stable, gave him my recommendations and told him to call me if or when he was ready to start feeling better.
This encounter brought up an interesting teaching moment for my medical students and residents who are a bit more open about the recreational use of cannabis than I am.
The few points that I wanted them to remember and that I inform my patients about this subject are the following:
1. The whole cannabis topic (legalize or not, medical vs. recreational use) is controversial and fraught with misunderstanding because it is inherently complicated.
2. The modern cannabis available today is very different from what people had in the 60’s and Woodstock era. It’s like trying to compare apples and oranges- you really can’t.
3. Regulations are needed but are difficult when the definitions and species and types of cannabis are so varied.
4. There are important medical uses for cannabis.
5. Many do use cannabis for social or recreational reasons. Some handle it responsibly and many others do not.
6. Young people still often start with cannabis and this opens the gateway to even more potent chemicals and drugs.
7. Update yourself with the latest information so you can form your own opinion.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta from CNN recently handled this topic very thoroughly in a 2 part news documentary.