Only moments after writing this morning’s entry about randomized control trials, a friend sends me a link to the following, from this morning’s Morning Edition on NPR:
The arguments around marijuana and PTSD start running in circles at a certain point. Scientists say more research is needed. Activists counter that the federal government has blocked research because marijuana is illegal. The American Medical Association has called for controlled studies to settle this and other questions about the effectiveness of marijuana.
Meanwhile, policymakers in states with medical marijuana programs have to make decisions now, and they’re reaching different conclusions. While New Mexico found there’s enough evidence to approve marijuana use for PTSD, next door in Colorado lawmakers recently rejected a similar proposal.
Pot for posttraumatic stress disorder? This is a good example of how randomized control trials can help. Everybody knows that pot makes people “feel good” (or so I hear), but to decide that doctors should be prescribing it to patients with PTSD — and whether health insurance should cover costs associated with medical marijuana — we’d have to know that for more people than not it reduces symptoms over a certain period of time more than the counseling and medication the patient is already using.
Incidentally, I’ve always suspected that the medical marijuana movement was a little bit of a backdoor to legalization, for the following reason: most people in the movement seem to think that smoking it is medically necessary. If smoking a drug is the most efficient delivery system, why don’t we smoke Paxil or Zoloft? Cannabinoid pills seem to make more sense. In the NPR story, the young man mixes his cannabis into hot chocolate in order to better control the dosage. I suppose we could randomly assign medical marijuana users to “smoking” and “hot chocolate” conditions to get to the bottom of this.
Read/listen to the entire story on a young New Mexican veteran’s use of marijuana to control his PTSD symptoms by linking to the article here. If what I’ve written isn’t enough to get you there yet, consider the following: his wife says, “Medical cannabis saved our marriage.”