Using medical marijuana to treat conditions such as anxiety and depression is dangerous and has no basis in medical science, says Dr. Timothy R. Jennings, a prominent Tennessee psychiatrist and consultant to The Center for Counseling and Health Resources in Edmonds, WA.
"Medical marijuana for the treatment of psychiatric problems is no better than prescribing cigarette smoke to treat lung disease," writes Dr. Jennings in a recent "call to action" to the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Jennings wants the APA to come out in opposition to the prescribing of marijuana for psychiatric illness.
"Psychiatry is positioned with a unique opportunity to stand up and oppose the latest chicanery to be promoted as 'medicine' - medical marijuana," writes Dr. Jennings. Thus far, 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical uses. Referenda in Colorado and Washington even legalized recreational marijuana use in those two states.
Dr. Jennings sees the promotion of medical marijuana as a fad without scientific merit. He compares it to the archaic practice of intentionally bleeding patients to drain away "evil humors," a once commonly accepted medical treatment later proven to be extremely harmful. Dr. Jennings wants the APA to denounce medical marijuana as a treatment for psychiatric illness, and he says that state licensing boards should censure any physician who prescribes it as such.
In his letter to the APA, Dr. Jennings cites research showing that marijuana, far from being helpful or even harmless, is associated with an increased risk of psychosis, and that it causes structural changes to the part of the brain that powers reasoning and higher thought. Dr. Jennings also pointed to chemical analyses of marijuana smoke showing that it is inherently more toxic even than cigarette smoke.
"The APA should adopt Dr. Jennings' recommendations regarding medical marijuana immediately," says Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder and director of The Center, a residential treatment facility. "Many suffering people are being further harmed by the very ones are supposed to help them - their own doctors."
The Center for Counseling and Health Resources in Edmonds, WA