Zarrow Pointe Hosts Discussion on Medical Marijuana

Published on November 8, 2018

The American Opioid Crisis: one of the most daunting epidemics facing US physicians and patients alike. Statistics show that overuse of prescription narcotics has become a blight to the medical community. But between the critical necessity of pain management options for so many Americans and the highly addictive nature of treatment drugs such as Percocet or Fentanyl, communities are coming together to ask, ‘what can we do about it?’ Some leading physicians and advocates believe that medical marijuana could be the answer. On November 8th 2018, Zarrow Pointe invited residents and local community members to become part of the conversation by hosting a free information session on medical marijuana. The discussion was geared toward dispelling common myths and educating our community on its risks and benefits.

Chandini Sharma, M.D. Resident Geriatric Specialist

Dr. Chandini Sharma, resident geriatric specialist and 3-time Patients’ Choice Award winner, addressed controversies and concerns surrounding Oklahoma’s recent legalization of medical cannabis and advocated for its use for chronic pain. “Only 5% of the global population lives in America, yet over 75% of the world’s opioid prescriptions are written by US doctors,” Sharma reported. “According to the CDC, over 40 Americans die from prescription opioid overdose every day. It is time to change the narrative by exploring safer alternatives for pain management.” 

In the case of medical marijuana, there is credible research to support the idea that the benefits outweigh the risks when compared to traditional, opioid-derived medications. Dr. Sharma cited results from the National Academies of Sciences’ 2017 Report on Cannabis and Cannabinoids: “The effects of medical marijuana were examined in thousands of patients during research sponsored by the Washington State Department of Health. Results from these in-depth studies have uncovered conclusive scientific evidence that medical marijuana can reduce symptoms of chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.”

This is not to say that there are no documented side effects of medical cannabis; however, Dr. Sharma is one of many physicians that believe the risks are significantly lower than those commonly associated with prescription opioids, including those of abuse, dependency, and overdose potential. 

One challenge that patients and physicians face regarding medical marijuana is the implementation of state guidelines, which vary nationwide. “It is important to understand that every state has its own distinct requirements,” said Dr. Sharma. “The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) is responsible for managing the state’s medical marijuana program, including application processing, licensing, and compliance monitoring. Patients must be careful not to apply the laws of one state in another.” 

Current guidelines state that Oklahoma physicians may recommend medical marijuana to patients for any condition that they feel could benefit from its use. State law also prohibits employers, schools, and landlords from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their medical marijuana license, ensuring that patients who choose medical cannabis treatments are given the same consideration as those who are prescribed any other pain management drug. 

Although there’s still a lot to be considered when it comes to the opioid epidemic as a whole, physicians like Dr. Sharma are on the forefront of making an impact through education and proper implementation of medical marijuana practices. Through these open forum discussions, communities such as ours can stay ahead of the curve on treatment options, allowing us to look forward to a healthier future together. ZP

 

Farm vs Pharma: Zarrow Pointe Holds Medical Marijuana Discussion

By Jalexa Schell

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