While more patients turn to medicinal marijuana, some still fear the stigma of yesteryear.
It’s no secret that since the passage of Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana in Florida, droves of patients have sought relief from medical cannabis.
The popularity of medical cannabis among seniors especially has surprised many. And while it’s true that many seniors can remember when marijuana was part of the counter culture, possessing such cultural memory can also fan the flames of the deeply-
ingrained stigma that attached to the little green plant. Unfortunately for some, this is enough to prevent them from seeking out the relief enjoyed by so many.
Yet, reluctant or not, it is impossible to deny the incredible and positive impact medical marijuana is having in the lives of patients today. From children finally free from the agony of epileptic tremors, to sufferers of chronic pain and PTSD who are now — and only through the therapeutic power of medicinal marijuana — able to lead a normal life, medical cannabis is proving a God-send for patients with a range of ailments.
The key to safely reaping the medicinal benefits of cannabis is, of course, quality medical care. Make no mistake, the stigma surrounding marijuana is not wholly imagined. The fact is that marijuana and the chemicals it contains are potent agents that can produce serious effects. In the wrong hands, bad things can and will happen.
But this is true of most pharmaceutical narcotics; it’s not unique to cannabis. Certain powerful antidepressants were derived from potent psychedelics including LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient found in “magic mushrooms”). And the class of drugs known as opioids originates from naturally occurring opioid narcotics such as opium. With all these natural substances and the medications produced from them, what makes the ultimate difference in whether something will heal or harm is how it is used and whether the doctor administering it is sufficiently skilled.
Any stigma associated with marijuana is best understood as relating to haphazard recreational use. Patients who are concerned about being associated with that stigma should be careful to remember that recreational misuse is not the same thing as therapeutic use under the guidance of a skilled physician.
What should matter most is whether a given treatment safely produces the desired effect. Fear of a stigma is simply not an adequate reason to suffer needlessly when a legitimate medication offers an improved quality of life.
That being said, as noted earlier, the chemicals in cannabis are quite powerful. One mistake prospective patients ought avoid making is assuming that because something is available over the counter (OTC) it is thus harmless. OTC CBD oil is a prime example.
CBD is becoming widely available without a medical marijuana certification since CBD is found in both marijuana (which contains THC, the psychoactive chemical responsible for the euphoric “high” feeling associated with marijuana use) and hemp (which does not contain THC above trace levels) allowing for OTC sale of CBD when it is harvested from hemp.
The first concern here is that since the production and sale of hemp-based CBD is far less regulated than medical marijuana, it can be challenging to find quality, trustworthy OTC CBD products. To be sure, there are a number of reputable hemp-based CBD producers, but it isn’t always clear which brands you can trust. We’ve all heard horror stories wherein an unsuspecting customer buys what he believes to be CBD oil, only to discover later that he’s paid top dollar for little more than a bottle of olive oil. For this reason, many of our patients at Village Medical Injury Care say they feel more secure purchasing marijuana-based CBD from a licensed dispensary after getting certified for medical marijuana.
A bigger word of caution for those considering OTC CBD is to remember that such products are not OTC medical marijuana, able to be taken without care. CBD affects different parts of the endocannabinoid system than does THC and can be administered to treat different conditions than THC. These chemicals are not interchangeable. It’s important to know which is meant to treat what condition. For instance, a glaucoma patient seeking the benefits of medical marijuana cannot simply opt for OTC CBD oil as some sort of quick and easy substitute because the therapeutic effects of marijuana for glaucoma are believed to result from the THC — some studies have found that high CBD doses can hasten glaucoma’s progression.
As with all OTC medications, it’s crucial to do your homework. And you shouldn’t take a medication if you’re not comfortable with it. At the same time, you shouldn’t suffer because of a decades-old stigma when a precise and medically-valid treatment can offer real relief. If you find you’re unsure, at Village Medical Injury Care our team of Board-Certified expert physicians is here to help guide you every step of the way.
Owen D. Fraser, M.D.
Village Medical Injury Care (“VMIC”) and the Medical Injury Care Provider Network, now serving The Villages®, is under the direction of Owen D.
Fraser, M.D. Dr. Fraser has more than 40 years of experience treating and caring for injured patients in the Central Florida area. After attending medical school at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, Dr. Fraser went on to complete his residency and general surgery fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center and Harlem Hospital in New York City, New York. He continues to practice in Central Florida, including out of his new flagship clinic in Lady Lake, Florida, where he focuses on personal injury care, medical rehabilitation, and other medical care. VMIC, under Dr. Fraser’s direct supervision, offers state of the art advanced medical therapies to allow for individual medical treatment plans to be developed, guiding our patients toward a timely recovery.
Village Medical Injury Care
Contact them today at 352-775-1234.
510 CR 466, Suite 104B
Lady Lake, FL 32159