Ethics Society of Hilton Head Island
Wednesday,November 2nd, 2016, 3-4:30 PM
HHI Regional Library.
Summary Notes: Medical Marijuana Legislation in the U.S., Ethical Factors.
Presenters: Marion Conlin and Dr. Gordon Ifill
Our presenters were introduced by John Miller.
Dr. Gordon Ifill is a board certified psychiatrist whose career has largely focused on addictive medicine. Marion Conlin, former nurse and certified addiction counselor, spent some years working with families in a drug and alcohol treatment center setting.
Dr. Ifill’s power point presentation began with a set of key questions about marijuana:
1) What is marijuana?
Marijuana or cannabis is a naturally growing weed in many parts of the world; has been used as a home remedy for numerous maladies for centuries if not thousands of years. The marijuana weed also known as hemp has been in industrial use equally as long.
2) Why are we having a national discussion about medical marijuana?
Twenty five states are now permitting medical marijuana in some form; one in five persons have access to medical marijuana. Senator Tom Davis believes medical marijuana will be declared legal for the entire country within five years. Marijuana for recreational use is now permitted in 4-states and DC. Eight states have the legalization of recreational marijuana on the ballot for Nov. 8, 2016.
3) Is marijuana really medicine?
Dr. Ifill says there is no medical marijuana per se. Perceived benefits derived from the marijuana plant result from the administration of THC and CBD, which are derived from the plant. THC contains a component with a psychic dimension causing euphoria and potential addiction. Because of this, administration of marijuana is regulated as a dangerous (Schedule 1) drug and its use is prohibited by federal law, now being circumvented by the passage of state laws. CBD is presently available in cannabis oil, the concentrated, distilled form of the plant most commonly known as marijuana, with all the plant material stripped away via a solvent. Cannabis oil has achieved the most notoriety for its possible medicinal uses.
4) What medical conditions can be treated with it?
Limited research suggests benefits in treatment of nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, chronic pain, spasticity in multiple sclerosis, appetite stimulation in wasting diseases, and refractory seizures in infants and children.
5) What does it do in the body?
Cannabinoids attach themselves to brain cells or other cells called receptors and activate the receptors to release chemical messengers programed to do specific tasks. Two very important messengers are dopamine and serotonin.
Smoking marijuana and its many unknown chemical components can cause the same damage to the lungs as tobacco. Prolonged and heavy usage can result in addiction.
7) What is addiction?
A reward circuit located deep within the brain controls and regulates the ability to experience pleasure, remember it, and anticipate pleasure when the activity is repeated. The repetition and continued heavy usage can result in addiction; evidenced by withdrawal symptoms, which the addict believes cannot be relieved in any way other than to use again.
An enthusiastic question, answer, pertinent comment session followed:
Question: Will Marijuana gain credibility as a medicine?
Dr. Ifill answered: Look at the risk/reward. Marinol is used successfully in chemotherapy patients to combat nausea. There are some good effects when used in the purified form. The dangers, however, are that smoking marijuana may also lead to lung problems and many other still to be investigated health disorders. An informed decision must be made.
Our sincere thanks to Marion Conlin and Dr. Gordon Ifill for a well condensed, educational and most interesting update on this timely and very controversial issue. Thanks also to John Miller, who moderated our meeting and and to Marion for providing us with this summary. Approximately 50 attendees were at our meeting.