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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Marijuana

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Will Marijuana Interact with Serzone [posted 11/10/98]
Question: Will smoking pot make serzone ineffective? Or cause any change in the effectivness? How long before serzone works to full benefit? I have been taking it now for three weeks with a gradual increase, I'm presently taking 150mg.

nswer: Well, they are both psychoactive drugs. I am not aware of specific interactional problem

Can Marijuana Cause Skeletal Problems [posted 11/6/98]
Question: I know this isn't the best way to start an email to a doctor, but, my brother and I are pot smokers. We smoked pretty regularly (like 1-3 times/day for a few mos. at a time with intervals of couple mos in between). My brother broke his leg a couple weeks ago and I was wondering, because I heard something about how pot affects your body's ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, if it could have weakened his bones making him more susceptible to a fracture? Also, if he smokes at all during while he is in a cast, will that adversely affect the healing process (and I don't mean smoking the way I outlined above... I mean more like once every other weekend perhaps)? I'm sorry to bother with you with such a bizarre question but there isn't that much information about these kinds of things available. Any light you could shed on this subject would be greatly appreciated. Thanx again.

Answer: Over time, marijuana will decrease blood flow to the extremities, much like regular cigarette smoking. However, this takes a lot of joints and a lot of years. There is no clear cut evidence that it affects acute healing in this situation.

Marijuana Screening and Second Hand Smoke [posted 10/16/98]
Question: I am planning on going to see a outdoor rock concert and I was just wondering if the 2nd hand marijuana smoke would make me fail my urine test at work.

Answer: Probably not, but depends on how sensitive the test is, how close to smokers and how long you are exposed.

Marijuana Screening [posted 7/30/98]
Question: I am in a rehabilitation center and my friend is having trouble. He's stated that he's been off marijuana and swears on his life that it's been exactly 27 days today. He recently took a urine drug screen on his 22nd day of sobriety. That drug screen came up negative, yet he took another on the 25th day of his sobriety and it came back positive. I was wondering because I've heard that it's up to your body to figure out when a good time to clean it's system. I'm wondering why the last screen came up positive if he hadn't used marijuana?

Answer: Marijuana can be picked up for a long time. Ask the Canadian Olympic skier about that. I suspect that one just missed it for some reason, but this can be seen for up to 6 months since it is lipid bound in the body.

Marijuana Legalization
Question: In your opinion should marijuana be legalized for medicinal purposes?

Answer: There hasn't been overwhelming evidence of its benefit over other drugs for any particular condition. So, there is no pressing medical reason to use it in place of prescription drugs.

Marijuana Legalization
Question: I want to know if physicians feel that marijuana should be legalized for medical use only.

Answer: Some yes, some no. In general, physicians are fairly pragmatic. However, it is hard to demonstrate that marijuana provides treatment options not currently available with other drugs. I thinks some patients are better with it, but I' m not absolutely convinced.

Question: My significant other has had operations on both of his lungs to attach them to the pleural cavity, because his lungs collapsed (on two separate occasions). When the doctor operated, he told him that he had what were called Pre-emphysema blebs. (His father, who was a smoker, died of lung cancer in his 40's). My significant other does not smoke cigarettes, but he does smoke marijuana about 3 times a week. I think it is dangerous for him to do so considering his family history and his operations, but I don't have any concrete information about this perception of mine. What is your opinion of this situation? am I overreacting ? People who use marijuana (I am not one of them) have this real resistance to hearing that it can in any way be harmful.

Answer: One marijuana cigarette has about the same effect on the lung as a pack of cigarettes. This is well researched. Has he been checked for alpha anti-trypsin? This is an inherited cause of this problem. I doubt that he will change his behavior based on data, but good luck.

Question: I smoked marijuana about 4 months ago. Ever since then, I have been feeling really weird, and in the first couple weeks after I smoked, it seemed like I was still high. Now, It seems like it won't go away and I still don't feel totally normal. Is this psychological? Will it go away soon? Why is it happening?

Answer: ItÝs certainly not the marijuana, but itÝs not clear whether it is another medical problem or anxiety, although itÝs probably anxiety.

Question: What is the name of synthetic THC?

Answer: Don't know of a synthetic THC.

Contraindications of marijuana
Question: I would like to have a current print out of the contraindications for marinol and ethol alcohol as found in the physicians desk reference.

Answer: The PDR only deals with FDA approved drugs, which marijuana is not.

Medical use of Marijuana
Question: Is marijuana useful in treating mental disabilities?

Answer: It has not been used for treating mental disabilities.

Question: I have smoked marijuana about 50 times within seven months (small amounts; approx. Half a ýbowlţ). I am in college now and I am worried about what I could have done to myself. It does not seem to have changed me, but I worry anyway. Do I have a good reason to worry?

Answer: This amount should not cause any long lasting problem. The major problem of marijuana appears to be the risk of lung cancer. One marijuana cigarette is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes in terms of risk. Other long term side effects are hotly debated, but poorly documented.

Question: What foods can cause a person to test positive on a marijuana drug test?

Answer: This depends a lot on the specificity of the test. In general, there are a few foods that would cause this problem since the test looks for a specific chemical in marijuana.

Marijuana for Migraines
Question: I have been using marijuana on the recommendation of a neurosurgeon for the control of a rare form of migraines. Other migraine medication I have tried have not worked. These migraines will hit in full force in less than a few seconds and can cause me to pass out at times. Marijuana is not legal for medical use in my state. I caught just a piece of a news article about the legalization of pot in Calf. On TV one day and they mentioned a medication that can be used as a substitute (I think it was a synthetic) for marijuana in patients but that was all I caught on it. What I am looking for is the name of this medication. Any help on the search for this medication would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: The chemical in marijuana apparently responsible for its effects is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol -often called THC. This drug is available for research only and is not available to physicians to prescribe in this country. There is currently no way that individuals outside California(physician or patient) can possess this drug in legal safety. There is currently ongoing legal battles over the California law, I would follow these. It may be that a physician in California can prescribe for patients who "travel" outside the state. Very few if it is only occasional.

THC in Urine
Question: Is there any way to eliminate marijuana or the from urine?

Answer: Don't smoke or ingest it in the first place.

Appetite of Cancer Patient
Question: Is it true that is it marijuana can help the appetite of a cancer victim return?

Answer: Sometimes.
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