Medical Marijuana: Regulations Clash
Doctors are facing a dilemma: risk breaking the law or withhold a potential treatment.
In Boston, Grinspoon gets referrals from doctors who are too worried or
unfamiliar with marijuana to propose it themselves. "I tell the patient,
'The major risk to you is a legal risk,'" Grinspoon says. "It makes me
anxious; it makes the patient anxious. But I would feel remiss as a physician
if I didn't do what I can to minimize suffering."
Whatever the federal government decides, Grinspoon has no intention of
changing his practice. "I had a son with leukemia, and I saw with my own
eyes how helpful it was in dealing with the nausea that he had with
chemotherapy," he says. Grinspoon's son died, but the memory of him eating
a submarine sandwich after chemotherapy -- and keeping it down -- is one his
father will never forget.
"I know better than any federal official what's best for my patients and
whether marijuana can help them," he says. "I'm not going to be told by
those folks how to practice medicine."
Beatrice Y. Motamedi is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes
in health and medicine. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, Wired,
Hippocrates, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other
publications. She is currently at work on a book about health care. Motamedi is
a contributing editor to WebMD.