Author(s): Hill KP
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Abstract With 23 states and the District of Columbia having enacted medical marijuana laws as of August 2014, it is important that psychiatrists be able to address questions about medical marijuana from patients, families, and other health care professionals. The author discusses the medical literature on synthetic cannabinoids and medical marijuana. The synthetic cannabinoids dronabinol and nabilone are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy and appetite stimulation in patients with wasting diseases such as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Results of clinical trials of these agents for other conditions have varied widely thus far. In addition, few data are available on the use of the marijuana plant as a medical treatment. The author concludes that there is a clear need for additional research on possible medical uses of cannabinoids. He notes that discussions with prospective medical marijuana patients should emphasize the importance of communication among all parties due to the possible side effects of treatment with marijuana and its potential to interact with other medications the patient may be taking. Facilitating a thorough substance abuse consultation is one of most positive ways that psychiatrists, especially addiction psychiatrists, can make an impact as medical marijuana becomes increasingly common. A careful review of the prospective medical marijuana user's substance use history, co-occurring medical and psychiatric conditions, family history, and psychosocial stressors is essential in evaluating the potential risks of medical marijuana for these patients. The author concludes that psychiatrists can have a significant impact by increasing the likelihood that medical marijuana will be used in a safe and responsible way.
This article was published in J Psychiatr Pract
and referenced in Biochemistry & Pharmacology: Open Access