Doctors concerned regarding lack of medical marijuana research


Medical Marijuana isn’t yet legal in the Mountain State and although there’s some doubt regarding whether the law will ever go into effect, for some medical professionals, without additional research it doesn’t matter. 

“There’s very little research medically because it’s difficult to do because THC is still a schedule one drug and so you can’t really study it easily and because of that there are no good studies that show what it’s good for and not good for,” said Richard Vaglienti, M.D., WVU Medicine Center for Integrative Pain Management, co-medical director.

Another medical professional said studies of populations who have drug addictions show evidence that marijuana is a gateway drug. 

“They are much more likely to develop an addiction problem if they started using cannabis whether it was for medical purposes or recreational purposes,” said James Berry, D.O., WVU Medicine Chestnut Ridge Center, director.

The use of medical marijuana for pain can be traced back to ancient China. 

A NCBI study cited the National Academies Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana saying “there is ‘conclusive or substantial evidence’ that cannabis is effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults.” 

Dr. Vaglienti agrees there are some known benefits but despite any positives he says he prefers CBD, a naturally occurring chemical compound that shares some medical properties with THC but does not give users a high.

“I would urge the state to make CBD the preferred formulation rather than THC that way it doesn’t blur the margins between medical use and recreational use.”

For Dr. Vaglienti recreational use is a particular concern here in West Virginia. 

“In a state that is so infected with opioid misuse and overdose, we’re adding another potentially misuse drug.”

And without additional research he’s not comfortable prescribing medical marijuana. 

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