By Kerri Cooke
Is coronavirus anxiety keeping you from functioning? Louisiana just passed a bill into law that will allow doctors to begin prescribing medical marijuana in August for conditions besides just cancer, seizures, epilepsy, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder.
A doctor could prescribe medical marijuana for anyone he thinks has a condition that is “debilitating.” And a recommendation for medical marijuana no longer has to come from a specialist. Your family doctor, for example, could prescribe the drug for you as easily as a specialist.
Also, Wellcana Group, the Louisiana company which oversees medical marijuana distribution in the state, announced that it will be reducing its wholesale price for the second time this year making it more affordable for patients as the drug is not as yet covered by insurance plans.
However, there are still only nine facilities at which patients can obtain the medical marijuana. This allows for careful regulation.
Many people have been looking to cannabis as a possible treatment for anxiety and depression. And as anxiety prescriptions are soaring during the COVID-19 pandemic, medical marijuana might be something new to try if other drugs fail to provide relief.
In other states, which allow marijuana for recreational use, there has been a huge uptick in business for places which sell marijuana. The day before San Francisco was issued a shelter in place order, businesses saw their biggest influx of customers since the day the drug was legalized in California. The sales were said to be 159 percent higher than the same day the year before. Sales also soared in other states such as Alaska, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.
While marijuana is legal for its medicinal properties in Louisiana, it has yet to meet widespread approval for complete legalization. If you want to get stoned just for the sake of it, that is still illegal in Louisiana. But marijuana will be available in pill form as well as in liquid and oil forms and in some inhalers.
While this law is a breakthrough for those who have chronic and excruciating conditions or for those who find little relief from traditional drugs, our veterans still have no access to the drug. Since the VA is a federal agency and medical marijuana isn’t legal at the federal level, the VA is unable to legally provide marijuana as a viable alternative to service members, even in the case of PTSD.
The legalization of medical marijuana for a variety of conditions is certainly a victory for some. However, I wonder at what point doctors would be willing to prescribe cannabis. Obviously other methods of keeping a condition under control should be tried first. I hope we aren’t opening the door to another medical crisis.
While cannabis seems to have some promising effects, the research is still out on how the drug works long-term and what the potential side-effects are. The last thing you want is a cure that is worse than the disease.
Marijuana is still a drug. While the hype around medical marijuana has been ever-increasing, there is no drug that can ever be considered risk-free.
However, let’s hope for the best. Those who are in dire need of relief will soon be able to get it. And the drug might prove to be a valuable asset in the health care tool kit in the future. But there is still so much we don’t know yet.