Fox Topix: Medical Marijuana

What do you think about the Supreme Court’s suggested changes on handling medical marijuana cases?

The Michigan Supreme Court is recommending new guidelines for criminal cases surrounding medical marijuana.

Michigan voters approved the use of marijuana for some chronic medical conditions in 2008, but the details of what’s legal have been tied up in courts for years.

The Supreme Court is suggesting a four part test before deciding to prosecute: A defendant must have a valid ID, must comply with state limits on amounts of medical marijuana, keep drugs in a locked facility and participate in the medical use of marijuana.

For today’s Fox Topix we want to know: What do you think about the Supreme Court’s suggested changes on handling medical marijuana cases?

Please leave your comments below or email us: mtm@mifox32.com.

Human Fetal Tissue Long Used for Variety of Medical Studies

Controversy over Planned Parenthood’s supplying fetal tissue for research has focused attention on a little-discussed aspect of science.

Some of the organization’s affiliates, in fewer than five states, provide the tissue. That’s not illegal and the organization says it has done nothing improper.

But covertly recorded videos about the practice, released by an anti-abortion group, have spurred a Senate bill to cut off federal funding for the organization. Republican leaders say the measure will be voted on before the August recess.

Some basic facts about fetal tissue in research:

———

WHAT IS FETAL TISSUE USED FOR?

Tissue from elective abortions and miscarriages is used for a wide variety of purposes. Scientists who want to regenerate organs and tissues may use it to learn how the human body makes them in the first place. Others look for defects in early development that can cause disease or miscarriage, or study normal development, which can guide therapeutic strategies. The tissue is also used to learn how medicines or toxins affect a fetus.

IS USING FETAL TISSUE A NEW IDEA?

Hardly. Scientists have worked with it since the 1930s. The 1954 Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded for work with fetal tissue that led to developing a vaccine against polio. The National Institutes of Health spent $76 million on human fetal tissue research in fiscal 2014.

WHAT DISEASES ARE BEING STUDIED TODAY?

AIDS and muscular dystrophy are examples. Some experimental treatments for spinal cord injury and macular degeneration involve transplanting fetal cells into patients. And European researchers recently began a study of putting fetal tissue into patients’ brains to treat Parkinson’s disease, a strategy that has had mixed results in the past.

HOW IS THE TISSUE PROVIDED?

It comes from hospitals and abortion clinics. Sometimes it goes directly to researchers, and in other cases it is handled by nonprofit organizations or companies that supply researchers.

CAN FETAL TISSUE BE SOLD FOR PROFIT?

No, that’s a felony. Organizations or companies that supply the tissue can be reimbursed for expenses associated with costs like processing and storing the tissue, federal law says.

DOES THE WOMAN HAVE TO AGREE TO USING THE TISSUE FOR RESEARCH?

Yes, she has to give consent. And the matter can’t be raised until after she has decided to have an abortion.

CAN’T RESEARCHERS JUST USE STEM CELLS INSTEAD?

Stem cells, including those obtained with adult donors, can develop into a variety of tissues in the lab. The European researchers in the Parkinson’s study and others hope to learn enough to use them someday for transplant tissue. Experts say stem cells have already substituted for fetal tissue for some purposes, but that scientists still need fetal tissue to learn basic information about how organs form, or help them simulate certain diseases in the test tube.

New blood marker could help identify mothers most at risk of postpartum depression

The joy of a new baby can often be met with the onset of postpartum depression for mothers, but new research published reveals a blood marker that could identify those most at risk.
Sufferers from postpartum depression can feel isolated from their baby.

Postpartum depression can affect 1 in 7 mothers in the US, according to a 2013 study.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of depression that affects some women after they have given birth.

According to a study in 2013, 1 in 7 mothers suffer from the disorder in the year they give birth. A further 22% of mothers in the year after were found to be depressed at some point.

Symptoms of PPD mirror that of depression, but mothers will also develop negative feeling toward one’s own baby, which can include:

  • Feeling numb and disconnected from your baby
  • Irrational fears about your baby and his/her wellbeing
  • A constant worry that you will somehow harm the baby
  • A feeling of guilt that you cannot take care of your baby.

Researchers in the past have identified the hormone oxytocin to be critical in the development of a healthy birth, maternal bonding, lower stress levels and mood regulation. Oxytocin is made in the brain and is sometimes known as the “love hormone” due to its effects.

A study earlier this year revealed how the hormone increases the process of social information in mice, prompting mothers to respond to their pups distress calls.

Mothers who suffer from PPD have been associated with having a lower level of oxytocin. Like depression, PPD can be difficult to diagnose if the sufferer is hiding one’s symptoms, but a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Genetics has found a new marker in the blood to help identify those most at risk.

A relationship between the genetic and epigenetic markers in oxytocin

Senior author Prof. Jessica Connelly, from the University of Virginia, worked together with teams from several institutions in the US and England to examine 545 mothers, of whom 269 had cases of PPD and 276 did not.

Researchers hypothesized the oxytocin receptor to play a role, given the importance of the hormone in developing maternal behavior.

They identified a relationship between the genetic and epigenetic markers in oxytocin, which increases the risk of postpartum depression.

Prof. Connelly says the findings will aid in the treatment of PPD. She explains:

“We can greatly improve the outcome of this disorder with the identification of markers, biological or otherwise, that can identify women who may be at risk for its development.”

Prof. Connelly also hopes the research will aid women who have never experienced depression before, as they are also at risk.

The authors of the study emphasized the results are only the first step in developing further knowledge of PPD, and the findings should now be replicated to other population-based samples. First author Aleeca Bell, of the University of Illinois, says:

“Our data needs to be replicated, but it is our hope that the oxytocin receptor marker we have identified will be useful to clinicians in identifying women at risk.”

The disorder is most commonly treated with a combination of antidepressant drugs and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Last year, Medical News Today reported on the most commonly prescribed drug, citalopram, and why it is effective at treating PPD. In severe cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ET) is utilized as a last resort if all other options have failed.

Written by Peter Lam

What Late Medical School Applicants Need to Know

​Applying early is one of the most important – if not the most important – medical school admissions strategies. But what do you do if, come August, you have yet to finish your primary application? It’s important to know if you should still submit your materials and understand the risks of applying to medical school late.

• How will submitting a late application hurt my chances?

Most medical schools operate according to a rolling admissions process, with roughly 44 percent of applicants receiving an acceptance letter​. Under rolling admissions, schools can accept a great applicant on the first day of admissions season​, or on day 60.

By August, application committees will have their choice of qualified students who submitted their applications on time​. And because medical schools interview a limited number of applicants, you may be automatically rejected if there are no interview spots remaining.

[Follow a medical school application timeline.]

• How late is too late to apply, and what should I do if it is?

The American Medical College Application Service opens in May for data entry, and it begins to transmit applications to schools in early June. Although the deadlines for many medical schools fall in October, some range as late as December.

Because AMCAS must verify your application prior to its transmission, the wait is shortest in May, when it’s just a few days. By the end of July, the delay may be several weeks long.

In short, September is simply too late to submit an application to medical school. August is borderline. Submitting in or before mid-July is reasonably safe, and June is ideal.

Exceptions do exist, of course, so be certain to speak to your academic adviser to determine whether you have an aspect of your application that distinguishes you enough to ensure you earn an interview​ despite the much stiffer autumn competition. Otherwise, it is time to seriously consider whether you should apply in the next cycle.

[Check out the 10 medical schools with the most applicants.]

• What might rescue a late application?

If you plan to apply late in the cycle, you must have application elements that unequivocally prove your ability to flourish in medical school. Your GPA, MCAT score and letters of recommendation should be very competitive. In fact, delaying your MCAT test date to improve your performance is sometimes wise, as June dates will count toward the current cycle.

If you took additional course work to improve your grades, these grades should be accessible to schools by July. Extracurriculars that may benefit you include clinically-focused volunteer work or research that leads to national publication. Institutional recognition such as a university award can also add weight to your application.

If you have a strong application, you might even consider applying to less competitive schools where your odds are greater. ​If you are offered an interview despite applying late, prepare amply and well in advance, as this can help you maximize the interview.

[Get answers to questions medical school applicants are afraid to ask.]

• What is the benefit of waiting for the next cycle?​

There are many reasons why applying in the next cycle might benefit you. It can be disappointing to face the prospect of not attending medical school when you initially planned to, but being realistic is key. 

Applying to medical school is expensive. You may spend several thousand dollars on applications, and this does not include travel and lodging for interviews. Spending hard-earned funds on a late application may not be the wisest option. Waiting until the next cycle will allow your application data to speak for itself. 

In addition, U.S. medical schools value maturity in their applicants, and a gap year that is used wisely can greatly enhance your admissions portfolio.

While applying to medical school late is not recommended, some students may still ultimately receive an acceptance letter. Before you proceed, consider your options and the strength of your profile, and then choose the best path for you.

'Glue ear' may be treatable with nasal balloon – Medical News Today

New research led by the University of Southampton in the UK offers a non-surgical, non-drug treatment for otitis media with effusion in the form of a simple procedure where the patient blows into a balloon through the nose.
child using nasal balloon

Researchers successfully tested a non-surgical, non-drug treatment for glue ear where the patient blows into a balloon through the nose.

Image credit: CMAJ

It is common for young children to be affected by otitis media with effusion (OME), whereby the middle ear becomes inflamed and filled with fluid that does not drain away as it should. While the condition can sometimes remain after an ear infection or lead to one, it does necessarily mean there is an infection.

OME, also referred to as “glue ear,” often has no symptoms, but can affect hearing development, and sometimes it is only when parents notice this that they seek medical help.

According to the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality in the US, OME occurs commonly during childhood, with as many as 90% of children having at least one episode before their 10th birthday.

There is an urgent need to find new ways to deal with OME that avoid unnecessary and ineffective use of antibiotics, as co-author Ian Williamson, an associate professor in the faculty of medicine, explains:

“Unfortunately, all available medical treatments for otitis media with effusion such as antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestants and intranasal steroids are ineffective and have unwanted effects, and therefore cannot be recommended.”

In the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the researchers describe how they undertook an open, randomized controlled trial to find out if the simple “nasal balloon autoinflation” procedure can be used on a large scale to treat children with OME in primary care settings.

During the procedure, the child blows through each nostril into a nozzle to inflate a balloon. This process sends air into the middle ear and helps return the pressure back to normal, clearing the built-up fluid.

The trial included 320 children aged 4-11 treated at 43 family practices in the UK. All participants had recent histories of OME and exams showed they had fluid in one or both ears.

Each child was randomly assigned to either a control group or a treatment group. The control group received standard care while the treatment group received standard care plus nasal balloon autoinflation three times a day for 1-3 months.

The results showed that children receiving autoinflation were more likely than the control group children to have normal middle-ear pressure after 1 month and 3 months.

After 1 month, 47% of children treated with autoinflation had normal middle ear pressure compared to 35.6% of the control group, and after 3 months these figures were 49.6% and 38.3% respectively. The children in the autoinflation group also had fewer days with symptoms.

‘Effective alternative to surgery’

Prof. Williamson says the procedure is simple and inexpensive, and can be taught to young children in a primary care setting with a reasonable expectation that they will carry on and do it correctly at home. He notes:

“We have found use of autoinflation in young, school-aged children with otitis media with effusion to be feasible, safe and effective in clearing effusions, and in improving important ear symptoms, concerns and related quality of life over a three-month watch-and-wait period.”

He and his colleagues suggest the autoinflation procedure should be offered more widely to children over the age of 4 to help them manage OME and reduce associated hearing loss.

In the following video, co-author Jane Vennik, a researcher in primary care at Southampton, and a young volunteer demonstrate the nasal balloon autoinflation procedure:

Currently, in severe cases of OME, doctors perform a surgical procedure that cuts a hole in the ear drum in order to let the fluid drain.

In an article accompanying the study paper, Drs. Chris Del Mar and Tammy Hoffman from Bond University in Queensland, Australia, comment that:

“At last, there is something effective to offer children with glue ear other than surgery.”

Meanwhile, Medical News Today has reported on another study that found an anti-stroke drug may be an effective treatment for middle ear infection, also addressing the urgent need for non-antibiotic treatments that reduce inflammation without side effects.

Written by Catharine Paddock PhD

Patients with depression, personality disorders most likely to make euthanasia requests

A study of 100 psychiatric patients in Belgium reveals that those with depression and personality disorders were most likely to request help to die due to “unbearable suffering.”
A depressed man sitting against a wall

Most patients who made euthanasia requests had depression and/or personality disorders, the study reveals.

Study co-author Dr. Lieve Thienpont, of University Hospital Brussels in Belgium, and colleagues publish their findings in the journal BMJ Open.

In Belgium, euthanasia – defined as a physician’s “act of deliberately ending a patient’s life at the latter’s request” by giving them life-terminating drugs – has been legal since 2002.

According to Dr. Thienpont and colleagues, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are the only countries in Europe where psychological suffering or distress is a valid legal basis for euthanasia.

For their study, the team set out to determine whether patients with certain psychological disorders are at greater likelihood of submitting a euthanasia request.

The researchers analyzed the euthanasia requests made by 100 individuals – 77 women and 23 men – on the grounds of unbearable suffering. All patients were receiving treatment for psychiatric disorders at outpatient clinics in Belgium between 2007 and 2011 and were followed-up until the end of 2012.

Ninety-one of the patients had been referred for counseling, while 73 were classed as medically unfit to work and 59 lived alone, according to the study.

More than one psychiatric illness was identified among 90% of patients, according to the team, with depression being the most frequent diagnosis, affecting 58 patients. Personality disorders were the second most common mental illness and affected 50 patients.

Among patients who required further testing, 13 were tested specifically for autism. Of these, 12 were diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.

Euthanasia requests were accepted for 48 patients, according to the study results, and 35 of these requests were actioned. The remaining 13 requests were delayed or canceled because patients reported that having the option of euthanasia provided them with enough “peace of mind” to carry on living.

By the end of the follow-up period, 43 patients had died in total. Of these, six had taken their own lives, with one of these patients committing suicide because it took too long to approve the euthanasia request.

Thirty of the patients died in a peaceful and positive environment surrounded by family and friends, which the researchers say would not have been possible if patients had died via unassisted traumatic suicide.

Results may help inform euthanasia guidelines for mentally ill patients

Dr. Thienpont and colleagues say their findings may inform the development of future guidelines in relation to euthanasia requests from patients with psychiatric illness, adding:

“Unfortunately, there are no guidelines for the management of euthanasia requests on grounds of mental suffering in Belgium. Taking into account the ongoing fierce ethical debates, it is essential to develop such guidelines, and translate them into clear and detailed protocols that can be applied in practice.”

As such, they call for further studies to be conducted – particularly quantitative and qualitative studies – in order to gain a better understanding of euthanasia requests for unbearable suffering among mentally ill patients.

“Furthermore, these studies could undertake systematic comparisons between groups of psychiatric and non-psychiatric patients, thereby exploring the risk factors for, and origins and degree of, unbearable suffering in both patient groups,” they conclude.

Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on a study published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, which found 1 in 3 doctors in the Netherlands would consider helping a patient die if they were suffering from early dementia or mental illness.

Written by Honor Whiteman

Man has medical issue while driving, crashes into Cincinnati building

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) –

Cincinnati police were called to an accident at 5381 Wooster Rd. just after 4:30 p.m. Monday. 

A box truck driver had a medical issue while operating the vehicle, causing him to drive through a fence and into the building of the Cincinnati Paperboard Company, stated officials. 

Police said the vehicle caught fire and entrapped the driver. 

The man was removed from the Vehicle by emergency crews and was taken to UC Medical Center, according to authorities. 

Officials have listed his condition as critical. 

Copyright 2015 WXIX. All rights reserved.

CDC warn of edible marijuana dangers following death of 19-year-old student

The case of a 19-year-old man who fell to his death from a balcony following the consumption of a marijuana cookie has been described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as illustrative of the potential danger associated with recreational marijuana use.
A pile of cookies.

Recreational marijuana is currently permitted in state law in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia.

Marijuana intoxication was reported as a chief contributing factor to the death of the student who jumped from a fourth-floor balcony at a hotel in Colorado after eating a whole cookie – equivalent to six and a half servings.

The police report for the incident states that, initially, the deceased ate one single piece of the cookie, as advised by the sales clerk who had sold the product. After not feeling any effects, however, approximately 30-60 minutes after eating, the deceased consumed the rest of the cookie.

Over the next 2 hours, the police report describes the deceased’s behavior as becoming hostile and his speech becoming erratic. Approximately 2.5 hours after eating the entire cookie, the man jumped from the balcony to his death.

The autopsy found 7.2 nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the high-inducing compound in marijuana – per milliliter of blood of the deceased’s body. As a point of comparison, the legal THC limit for driving in Colorado is 5.0 ng/mL.

It can be difficult to see the psychoactive effects of marijuana on an individual that has consumed an edible marijuana product at first because of how slowly the drug is absorbed compared with smoking. Peak THC concentrations within the body are not reached until 1-2 hours after ingestion, whereas with smoking they are reached within 5-10 minutes.

Additionally, the length of time for which an individual is intoxicated is much longer with edible marijuana than it is when the drug is smoked. For these reasons, it is very important that people taking recreational marijuana take care to get their dose levels correct.

“Because of the delayed effects of THC-infused edibles, multiple servings might be consumed in close succession before experiencing the ‘high’ from the initial serving, as reportedly occurred in this case,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state. “Consuming a large dose of THC can result in a higher THC concentration, greater intoxication, and an increased risk for adverse psychological effects.”

Accidental overconsumption reports spur packaging changes

The police report indicates that the deceased had been informed by the sales clerk to divide the marijuana cookie into sixths – each sixth containing around one 10 mg serving of THC – and that the cookie should only be ingested one serving at a time. However, the report does not mention whether the sales clerk advised how long the deceased should wait between servings.

Colorado is one of four states and the District of Columbia in which recreational marijuana is permitted for adults older than 21. Its first state-licensed recreational marijuana stores opened in January 2014, 2 months before the death of the student. Around 45% of the state’s marijuana sales involve edible forms of the drug.

Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician, told HealthDay that the amount of the drug ingested by the deceased was not a lethal amount:

“You could eat several of these cookies and be put into a euphoric state, and possibly have anxiety, but that, in and of itself, would not be lethal. He likely may have had a predisposition or some underlying mental illness we didn’t know about, that became unmasked when he ate the cookie. That’s probably the issue here.”

According to the police report, the deceased had no known history of mental illness, nor had he any known history of alcohol abuse or illicit drug use.

In February this year, Colorado revised their packaging and labeling rules for recreational marijuana after analyzing surveillance data and reports of accidental overconsumption. Recreational edible marijuana products must now contain no more than 10 mg of THC or have each 10 mg serving clearly marked.

The CDC state that this case suggests there is a need for improved public health messaging to reduce the risk for overconsumption of THC. They also recommend that other states could potentially reduce adverse health effects with similar policies to the ones brought in this year by Colorado.

Earlier this month, Medical News Today reported on a study that found THC is triggered by a pathway that is separate from its other effects.

Written by James McIntosh

Medical Marijuana: weighing benefits versus risks

Statistics show that prescription drugs are abused so readily in the United States that someone dies of an overdose from pills every 19 minutes.

In contrast, there is a drug that has never been known as the sole cause of an overdose death, and yet remains illegal in South Dakota and many other American states. That drug is marijuana, which is considered by the federal government as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no medical value whatsoever.

But opinions on the medical value of marijuana are changing in America, and proponents of legalizing marijuana for medical use in South Dakota hope the state can join 23 other states and the District of Columbia where it is legal, and they’re pushing for a November 2016 statewide ballot measure to accomplish that.

For those who support marijuana as medicine, or those who now use it to fight pain or reduce seizures, there shouldn’t even be a debate over whether marijuana helps the sick.

Some clinical studies and numerous anecdotal reports indicate that marijuana can provide relief for patients dealing with a variety of serious illnesses. In addition to causing the high marijuana has long been known for, the studies and stories show marijuana can help reduce pain, alleviate nausea, block seizures, increase appetite, and help minimize the impacts of glaucoma.

At the very least, marijuana backers say, the drug should be studied more fully to uncover its full array of potential benefits and medicinal uses. 

In the last decade, as American attitudes have shifted into more acceptance of marijuana, some doctors are becoming more comfortable with speaking out about the possible medical benefits of marijuana.

In 2009, the American Medical Association, an organization of more than 200,000 member doctors, pushed for the reclassification of marijuana in order to promote more research on the drug. The American Academy of Pediatrics made a similar plea in January.

Still, the federal government continues to hold fast to its characterization of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, alongside substances like heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

‘I know there’s value’

When Rapid City neurologist Dr. David Sabow thinks about the government’s classification of marijuana, he shakes his head in disbelief.

“I know there is value, I’ve seen it in my patients,” Sabow said.

Sabow, 74, is now retired from clinical neurology but is still a chief neurologist for Social Security’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. He also works as an expert witness in trials across the country. Lawyers, insurance companies, individuals and government entities often enlist his expertise on all things neurological to enlighten juries on the witness stand or make recommendations outside of court. 

He lives just off the Rapid City Executive Golf Course with his wife, Andrea, and was the first neurologist in the state of South Dakota. Sabow has seen thousands of patients with a wide range of neurological disorders, from multiple sclerosis to Parkinson’s disease. 

The doctor says it is easy for him to believe in the medical value of marijuana because patient after patient, year after year, has told him the drug brings them relief.  

“When you see dozens of anecdotes you would be crazy not to recognize the beneficial effects of this product,” Dr. Sabow said in an April interview with the Rapid City Journal.

Sabow’s experiences with patients saying marijuana has helped is not uncommon for doctors who help patients who are dealing with pain. A 2014 survey of more than 1,500 doctors in the United States found that most of those in the medical professions believe marijuana can help their patients, and that it should be legal for medical use in their state.

Of those surveyed, 69 percent said it can help with certain treatments and conditions, and 67 percent believed it should be a medical option for patients.

Another article that same year, in the “Journal of the American Medical Association,” found that in states where medical marijuana had passed, deaths caused by painkiller overdose dropped by 25 percent. 

Not without risks

Like any drug, prescription or otherwise, marijuana isn’t without side effects. 

Because the most common current way of ingesting marijuana is by smoking, habitual users showed lower lung capacity and function. An American Lung Association Article found that marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxins as tobacco smoke. That research showed habitual marijuana users are more likely to get acute bronchitis and develop coughs and wheezing. 

One thing researchers are working on is the study of how marijuana can effect the development of the brain. Habitual users of marijuana that start using at an early age can show long-term effects on cognition and problem-solving ability.

A 2014 Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine study found that young adults, aged 18-25, who smoked pot had abnormalities in the hippocampus section of the brain which is still developing. Those sections are important to the control of emotion and motivation. 

“Evidence that the longer the participants were abusing marijuana, the greater the differences in hippocampus shape suggests marijuana may be the cause,” lead author Dr. Matthew Smith said about the study.

Also, the old adage that a person can’t become addicted to marijuana is dubious. Though rates of addiction are significantly less than with prescription drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, marijuana can be addictive in a psychological if not physical sense. According to a study by the National Institute of Drug abuse, about 10 percent of recreational marijuana users become dependent on it. That dependency can come with symptoms of withdrawal if users suddenly stop taking the drug. 

Finally, marijuana has been known to cause acute panic attacks, depression or paranoia in users not familiar with the drug or unprepared for the incredible potency of modern marijuana.

Since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, hospitals in the Denver area have seen a large increase in the number of marijuana-related cases at their emergency rooms, according to news reports. A vast majority of those ER visits are due to the ingestion of more than the recommended amount of marijuana-infused edibles. In a couple instances, marijuana overuse was considered a factor in a case where a young man dove to his death from a hotel window, and when a man shot his wife to death while she was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher.

Further, there is some belief that marijuana is a gateway drug that can lead users to harder drugs. However, that idea has largely been discredited scientifically. The peer-reviewed “Journal of School Health” found that if marijuana users go on to try harder drugs, it is likely because of social factors like a lack of money or severe psychological stress. The actual using of the marijuana doesn’t make the person seek out a new stronger high, the study suggested.

Pill form as effective?

Despite those risks, Sabow said he is “100 percent” in favor of legalizing medical marijuana because it brought relief to his neurology patients. 

One of the problems for Sabow’s patients is a side effect of neurological disorders known as spasticity. The condition is characterized by tight or firm muscles that move unwillingly and without warning. The condition is found in patients with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries.

For the spasticity, Sabow would prescribe what he was allowed to by law, Marinol. The drug is a man-made form of marijuana, but the problem is that most patients find the real thing works a lot better.

“Some of my patients got literally no benefit from Marinol,” Dr. Sabow said. In contrast, he said all of the patients that told him they were using marijuana, despite the fact it is illegal in South Dakota, got relief from it. 

According to Sabow, the biggest difference between taking a dose of Marinol in pill form and smoking marijuana is how much and how quickly the active chemical in the drug is absorbed.   

When a pill of Marinol get swallowed, it takes a long path to the blood stream. The pill first needs to reach the stomach where it is broken down. Then, it passes to the duodenum where a small amount is absorbed into the blood stream. From there it goes through the small intestine slowly getting adsorbed. The process can take an hour.

“When you are inhaling you are getting the most concentrated portion of the drug to the brain quickly,” Sabow says.

When someone inhales marijuana smoke, it goes to the pulmonary arterial structure extremely quickly. Those chemicals are transferred into the blood, go to the heart and then to the brain in a matter of only a few minutes.

Another potential difference between Marinol and marijuana is the synthetic drug’s lack of less-complex canidinoids. Marinol contains a type of THC, the chemical compound that create the marijuana high, but it doesn’t contain several other possibly beneficial chemical compounds. Recent studies have found that these other chemical compounds in marijuana have had beneficial effects on the nervous system, can be used to control seizures, and may have tumor-fighting properties. 

If medical marijuana were legal, Sabow said many of his patients would be better off, even if the core condition they face isn’t being treated.

“It can totally change their quality of life,” he said. “Their lives are hard enough, so I have no problem with them feeling a little bit better.”

Return to medical marijuana site

Today's Top Medical News – July 27, 2015 – Story | OZARKSFIRST

Published 07/27 2015 06:42AM

Updated 07/27 2015 06:42AM

Doctors in Britain say sleep not only keeps you from forgetting things.. but can make memories *easier* to access.

Researchers say sleep-study participants *almost doubled* their chances of recalling memories they had previously forgotten.

A study from Yale University and Boston Medical Center suggests many doctors are not giving new mothers critical advice on how to take care of their baby.  20-percent of mothers polled say their physician did not share with them current recommendations on breastfeeding… or the importance of having babies sleep on their backs to prevent the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

And young women with cancer may also be getting a lack of advice from doctors. 

Some types of cancer treatments can threaten the ability to have children.

But researchers in Seattle say male patients were more than twice as likely as female patients to be given fertility preservation options.

(Brian Webb, for CBS News)

Copyright CBS News