Doctors give lawmakers reasons to not legalize marijuana

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky was the topic of interest at a legislative committee meeting on Friday.


Last month the Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee heard from proponents of the issue.  This time those opposing legalization testified.


Dr. Kevin Sabat, president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana of Alexandria, Virginia, said science, not politics, should determine medicine. 

“Voting on medicine is a very strange precedent that we’ve only seen once before, with Laetrile, and that didn’t turn out very well,” he said. “Medicine should be left to the scientific process.”


Sabat testified while there is no reason to remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I drugs (which makes it illegal), he is a proponent in expanding research, since some components of the plant have passed FDA muster and are legal for use to treat some forms of epilepsy, for example.


He also told lawmakers there are many wild claims for marijuana that are not true, such as treating depression.  “In the short term, it’s possible that THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) may make some people feel better. But long-term studies show, especially if heavy use is involved, depression, anxiety and even schizophrenia are associated significantly with its use.”


According to Sabat, there are also claims THC is a cure for cancer.  “There is evidence that there could be relief for nausea related to chemotherapy, and we need to look at that.  But, when it comes to whole cancer, this is very problematic.  It’s been very difficult for the FDA to keep up with these claims.”


One two-year FDA study into CBD products sold online, found some scary things, Sabat said. 

“They did random testing of several dozen products and found most of the products did not contain the CBD that were claimed.  Instead, they found THC and a lot of heavy metals, pesticides, mold, bacteria and other things that we would never want in a medication.”


He said there is also a black market factor in states where medical or recreational marijuana is sold.  “The black market undercuts the legal price, so the black market is thriving in a lot of these states.  There is a lot of adulterated product, Fentanyl and others.”           


Dr. Michael Fletcher, president of the Kentucky Society of Addiction Medicine, said his national association does not support legalization “and recommends those states that have not yet acted to legalize marijuana be most cautious and not adopt a policy of legalization until more can be learned from national research now underway.”


While saying there are a few instances when CBD products can be used, Fletcher says their policy is “any product purported to be a medicine should look like a medicine, such as a pill.  They reject smoking as a means of drug delivery.”


He added legalization of hemp as an agricultural product should not be confused with legalizing marijuana.

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