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Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal
SJR: 0.123

ISSN Imprimir: 2151-805X
ISSN En Línea: 2151-8068

Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal

DOI: 10.1615/EthicsBiologyEngMed.2011003378
pages 33-43

Ethical Considerations for Psychiatry in the Broadening Scope of Medical Marijuana Therapy (correct)

Laurie E. Gordon
Department of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College; Associate Attending Physician, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, USA


Medical marijuana and the decriminalization of recreational marijuana present ethical dilemmas for physicians and especially psychiatrists. Research suggests that tetrahydrocannabinol and related compounds may have a role in pain management, but the number of controlled studies is lacking. The American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association do not currently support the use of marijuana; more research is indicated. In the meantime, states are permitting medical marijuana for indications outside the scope of their own laws including prescriptions for adolescents. Evidence exists that effects of THC on the developing brain are detrimental, and data shows that a significant percentage of adolescents exposed will become addicted. Research indicates an increased lifetime risk of schizophrenia after years of chronic use. Data from other countries where recreational drug use is decriminalized are often cited. Doctors are increasingly asked to prescribe and legitimize an inadequately studied drug. Legalization carries the potential for abuse and addiction. The federal government, consulting with addiction experts, should assume some role in regulating and monitoring the changing prescribing climate as addiction becomes more of a problem and the line between the two becomes increasingly blurred. Special considerations for infant, child, and adolescent exposure are advised.

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