Medical Marijuana and the Pesky Lack of Evidence

  To hear some medical marijuana advocates talk of it, cannabis is the miracle drug…



To hear some medical marijuana advocates talk of it, cannabis is the miracle drug capable of healing whatever ails you. And if a cannabis product with THC will not help, you can find relief with another product containing CBD. At least that’s the supposition. Here’s the problem with all the wonder drug claims: a glaring lack of evidence.

Medical marijuana proponents interested in honesty and transparency acknowledge the scarcity of clinical proof. They are also quick to acknowledge that neither THC nor CBD is a miracle drug. In fact, the applications for both are quite limited. That being the case, one has to wonder why some medical marijuana advocates push as hard as they do. Is there something they are not telling us?

Essential Oils and Stem Cells

Enough states (36 at this point) allow for medical marijuana that it has essentially become mainstream. Even Utah – one of the most conservative states in America – has an active medical cannabis program. says the program still needs a lot of improvement, but at least it’s up and running.

State programs are all well and good. But it seems like medical marijuana advocates are often no different from their counterparts pushing essential oils and stem cells. They speak of medical marijuana as though anyone who uses it will find relief without any consequences.

It would be interesting to take sales pitches from essential oil and medical marijuana providers and swap them. You might wind up not being able to tell the difference. Essential oils are pitched as natural, pure, and endowed with incredible healing powers. People say the same types of things about medical marijuana.

On the stem cell front, there are clinics that claim they can fix just about anything by injecting stem cells into unsuspecting patients. Some medical marijuana proponents pitch their chosen treatments with the same religious fervor.

Evidence Means Something

It is interesting to observe how hard regulators work to keep a lid on stem cell treatments. Their go-to argument against such treatments is the lack of evidence. You don’t see the same type of staunch opposition to medical marijuana. That is not to say staunch opposition should exist. Rather, it is to suggest that regulators be as open-minded to stem cell procedures as they are to medical marijuana.

Yes, evidence means something. But anecdotal evidence is just as valid as clinical evidence. If we are going to accept anecdotal evidence as proof that medical marijuana works, we should apply the same standard to stem cell treatments.

Doctors Need Open Minds

There is little doubt that medical marijuana’s reputation suffers from a pesky lack of evidence. But in the absence of clinical proof, doctors still need open minds. They need to be willing to listen to what their patients tell them. If a chronic pain patient tells the doctor that he finds relief in marijuana, it doesn’t make sense to dismiss his claims as the ramblings of a drug addict.

Any doctor worth their diploma knows that patients react differently to nearly every kind of treatment. No two patients react to opioids in exactly the same way. The same is true for antibiotics, analgesics, uptake inhibitors, and so on. Likewise, some patients with qualifying conditions will respond very well to medical marijuana. Others will not.

Yes, a lack of clinical evidence is hindering medical marijuana use at this point. But that’s natural. Now that medical marijuana has gone mainstream, expect research to pick up dramatically. We will have a lot more evidence, one way or the other, soon enough. We just have to wait until it arrives.