March 7, 2018

Legalized marijuana and pain management

Legalized marijuana and pain management.

The State of California has legalized marijuana.  Some people think that because marijuana is legal, they can get opioids and smoke as much as they want.  This thought is not true.
Firstly, marijuana has not yet been legalized by the Federal Government.  While Federalism, meaning that States can do what they want, such as legalize marijuana, is all very nice, doctors prescribe opioids under the governance of the Federal Government, specifically the DEA or Drug Enforcement Agency, which provides physicians DEA numbers, which must be included on every prescription.  According to the Feds, marijuana is like cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine.  If we follow the rules used by the Feds, we should not prescribe you opioids if you are using these drugs, because of the high likelihood of abuse.

There is a “sort of” way out of this problem, which is that if you use marijuana for a medical reason, according to the State of California, then we have a rationale for prescribing opioids in the presence of marijuana.  In other words, you will still need a Medical Marijuana license.

Another issue is that when we prescribe you opioids, we expect you to use them responsibly, which means as prescribed.   We expect you to not take more opioids than prescribed, just because you “need to.”  Taking the medications when you “need to” puts you at risk for overdose and death, a risk which would make you not a candidate for opioids.

You are also not a candidate for opioids if you take other meds to excess.  An alcoholic who takes alcohol with no control is not a candidate for opioids.  It follows that someone who is stoned all the time is not a candidate for opioids.

Using medical marijuana responsibly, aware of the risks of the medications you are using, is a necessary condition if you need pain medication for a pain condition.  Act responsibly and you will be fine.

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