DEA says, “Medical marijuana already exists. It’s called Marinol.”
Since 1985, doctors have been prescribing Marinol, a prescription drug containing a synthetic form of THC (often referred to as the “active ingredient” in marijuana), to cancer patient and AIDS patients for its anti-nausea and appetite increasing properties. While several other drugs are considered more effective in preventing vomiting for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, some do not respond well to those medications and do best with Marinol (Harris, 2010). Marinol is also known as Dronabinol, delta-9-THC, or Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (AHFS, 2010). As the Food and Drug Administration and National Institution for Drug Abuse delay genuine research around the benefits of marijuana due to the fact that you have to smoke it, (United States Drug Enforcement Agency, 2012) (Harris, 2010)(of course you could just eat it), it is difficult to really tell if Marinol is as worthy.
Regardless, Marinol causes many of the same effects of marijuana. It is known for preventing vomiting, increasing appetite, and decreasing nausea, but also may cause “confusion, memory loss, anxiety, unsteady walking, feeling outside your body, high, hallucinations, sleepiness, [and] strange or unusual thoughts” (AHFS, 2010). If these symptoms of overdose occur, the individual is to call the poison control center, “drowsiness, inappropriate happiness, sharper senses than usual, changed awareness of time, red eyes, memory problems, feeling that you are outside of your body, mood changes, decreased coordination, extreme tiredness, and difficulty speaking clearly” (AHFS, 2010). I’m pretty sure those are just part of being stoned. However, they did have some other signs of overdose that sounded significantly scarier that may be due to an interaction with another medication, medical condition, or allergy: fainting, difficulty peeing, fast heart rate.
I will say that it is difficult to tease out the closest things to truth around the medical marijuana and (or verse) Marinol controversy. Advocates against the legalization of marijuana use Marinol as a reason to not legalize marijuana or even to research its potential benefits. The Drug Enforcement Agency says on their website, “Medical marijuana already exists. It’s called Marinol” (United States Drug Enforcement Agency, 2012). Obviously, Marinol is not legalized Marijuana, but legalized synthetic THC. Furthermore, medical marijuana does exists, the DEA just doesn’t approve. Unfortunately, as they have not allowed research on medical marijuana, denying requests or sitting on them (the DEA says they follow NIDA’s lead), there is little to back them up. Furthermore, Marinol only has THC and marijuana has multiple psychotropic chemicals that in some ways balance each other out (Walton, 2012). In fact, I would hypothesize that to take Marinol–THC without CBD, the second known psychotropic chemical in THC, is far less balancing than smoking or eating cannabis. CBD has anti-psychotic properties that in some ways may keep an individual grounded while being high, potentially preventing manic episodes.
Ultimately, there are so many chemicals in marijuana and so many different strains of marijuana, it could never be regulated or approved under the current system of the Drug Enforcement Agency. Marinol works wonders for some people and that is amazing. Marijuana works wonders for some people and that is amazing. Does it really need to be legalized when we already have a permissive society in which it is so readily accessible? I think for those suffering with chronic pain conditions, going through chemotherapy, struggling with AIDS, or just really needing Marinol or marijuana without complicating potential mental illnesses they should go ahead and get it, but I find it frustrating when I walk down Venice Beach’s boardwalk only to be repeatedly accosted by men in white coats trying to convince me I am so sick I need weed and that when I was at college and my classmates told me they said they had stress headaches or back aches so they got their medical cards. I feel that makes fueling addictions just a little too easy. A fresh set of regulations and legalizations needs to revamp the medical marijuana field.
AHFS. (2010, September 1). Dronabinol. Retrieved 2012, from Pub Med Health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000403/
Harris, G. (2010, January 9). Researchers Find Study of Medical Marijuana Discouraged . Retrieved 2012, from New York Times: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D05E5DD1E39F93AA25752C0A9669D8B63&pagewanted=all
United States Drug Enforcement Agency. (2012). “Medical” Marijuana – The Facts. Retrieved 2012, from United States Drug Enforcement Agency: http://www.justice.gov/dea/ongoing/marinol.html
Walton, A. G. (2012, Jan 17). THe Opposing Effects of the Two Key Chemical Found in Marijuana. Retrieved 2012, from the Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/01/the-opposing-effects-of-the-two-key-chemicals-found-in-marijuana/251372/
By Emily F.