Prensa 420 via Flickr

Prensa 420 via Flickr

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

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About the author

Dr. Carol

Dr. Carol

Dr. Carol- doctor, wife, mom and maker PB&J!
One of my passions is to help people Embrace change, Try new things and be BOLD for a healthier and balanced life!

15 Comments

    • We actually use a refined form of cannabis in medical practice called Marinol. It is a controlled medication restricted to people wasting from cancer or AIDS.

  • I am not sure about the pot situation. While I value the worth for medicinal relief it is the driving while impaired and not realizing it, or the altered state for some people who have addictive personalities and don’t really think that which gets me walking the I’m not sure line.

    • Easy access to pot is never a good thing in my opinion. I have had my share of hapless teenagers coming in asking for a medical marijuana permit in my old medical practice. My scolding probably fell on deaf ears but an enabler of drug addiction I will not be.

  • Federally legalize it for personal and medical use. Get the FDA to put controls on it medically. It works for so many things and many people in most states are criminals so they get relief from their chemo induced nausea or their chid’s untreatable seizures. I live in Colorado and I am thrilled we legalized it for adult personal use. It’s been a cash cow for our economy but more than anything it’s sensible government. Edibles are an issue because they do look like “normal” candy, cookies, and pastry. However, people keep liquor in their house and kids get into that and into trouble.

    I’m very pro cannabis and I don’t touch the stuff. Legalization isn’t going to turn us all into a bunch of junkies.

    • I see your point of view Laura. Having FDA regulate marijuana is indirectly having doctors write and manage the prescriptions. I can tell you that my medical colleagues have no interest in doing that- we are swarmed as it is managing prescriptions for narcotics.

      I joke now that we doctors are fast becoming licensed drug dealers. Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

  • Even as an attorney, I have no idea where I come down on this topic. I see and understand both sides of the discussion but unfortunately know enough about human nature that no matter what the “law” does … there will always be abuse, misuse, and unintended consequences (that will only create the need for another discussion and more laws).

    • It is complicated. The legalization of cannabis debate involves health care, law, law enforcement, congress. I don’t know if there can ever be a middle ground.

  • Hmmm…when I was a “pot-head” I had very little motivation, dropped out of college, and chained smoked cigarettes. So giving it up for me was wise. I was only 19 by that point. Twenty years later and I see old and young using it with about the same amount of responsibility. I think it’s up to the individual to see how it affects them.
    I DO know that when my mom used it for medicinal purposes she FINALLY got a decent night’s sleep and it helped her off the addictive drug that was being taken for another symptom.
    Where do I stand? I think it’s no better or worse than alcohol. But as a society we also drink too much.

    • You could not have analyzed the situation better. We humans have a way of going into excesses with just about anything.

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