A fresh wave of study and innovation among scientists and cannabis advocates seeks to solve a central dilemma: In Colorado and other states, first came the approval of marijuana as medicine. Next comes the challenge of proving its effectiveness, the Denver Post reports. The newest research leaves little doubt that marijuana – or at least its chemical components – has promise in alleviating symptoms of some ailments, while also making clear that the drug is not without its drawbacks, some potentially serious.
What is less certain is whether Colorado’s medical-marijuana system of dispensaries and caregivers – where commitment to scientific rigor and compassionate patient care is largely voluntary – can maximize that treatment potential for the benefit of patients. Some dispensaries keep detailed patient records and embrace scientific testing in the hopes of providing patients with what works best. Medical-marijuana users report other dispensaries seem interested in just slinging snazzy weed, regardless of a patient’s needs or ailments. (One ad on Craigslist: “Licensed caregiver looking to trade for Widespread Panic tickets.”) The mainstream medical community questions whether any system that uses a raw plant as medicine can be optimally effective. Instead, conventional drug researchers see promise mostly in harvesting marijuana’s ingredients for more traditional medicines and avoiding consumption methods like smoking that can hurt patients’ health.