In Search of the Holy Grail

In popular culture, the term “the holy grail” is often used to describe the ultimate object of desire. You might consider the idea of a non-addictive pain-killer that could be used after surgery or to quell arthritis pain as one ‘holy grail’ of medicine. The drug companies have been more than willing to take part in this particular quest—oxycontin was one example of a failed quest for the holy grail of medicine. Now marijuana is being touted as the new solution to chronic pain and a number of other medical conditions. However, some doctors and researchers are not yet convinced.

The May Issue of the AARP Bulletin includes an article on medical marijuana. The article notes that medical marijuana is legal in 38 states. The market for marijuana gummies has exploded. The article cites one example of an 89-year-old woman in Maryland who started a cannabis club at Leisure World, her retirement community. She sells edibles and gummies. In the article she notes that gummies can be dangerous in older adults.

The article notes that last year the percentage of people purchasing chewable marijuana surpassed the percentage of people buying smokable marijuana. Since smoking tobacco has become socially unacceptable, it makes sense that marijuana gummies would become more popular than smoking marijuana.

The article mentions that marijuana can help with chronic pain and sleep and anxiety problems. However, the article also notes that marijuana does not seem to help with short-term pain.

There is also the danger of the delayed effect of eating gummies—it takes two or three hours to feel the full effect, so it is easy to take too many. In 2023 a study found that emergency room visits for marijuana-related problems increased 1,808 percent among people 65 and over in California from 2005 to 2019. It has also been discovered that mental problems and heart problems were more common among those who used marijuana edibles than those who smoked or vaped marijuana.

The article in the AARP Bulletin concludes, “…at Leisure World Cannabis 101 Club, Carminetta Verner is very cautious about spreading the gummy gospel. She recommends that new users keep a detailed journal of what they take, as well as the results, to see whether a gummy, or anything else, helps or has side effects. “Each person’s metabolism is different, and you have to learn how your body reacts,” she says. “The cannabis mantra is ‘start low and go slow.’””

The May 2024 issue of Newsmax Magazine also included an article about marijuana. The article cited a Danish study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Psychiatry (JAMA) last year.

The article in Newsmax states that between 1995 and 2010 the percentage of Danish schizophrenia diagnoses associated with marijuana usage had nearly quadrupled, and the combination of greater usage with stronger pot is bringing down the age of first onset of mental illness. Someone who might have gotten into their late 20’s without a psychotic episode could now be faced with their first break with reality while still in their teens. The article at Newsmax concludes by stating that marijuana can make treating mental illness more difficult and can throw a person’s life off course before it has a chance to get on course. It also mentions that the marijuana of today is stronger and more addictive than the marijuana than the marijuana of the 1960’s. Neither article referenced above is willing to describe marijuana as a harmless drug.

 

Keeping Your Doctor

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal posted an article by Dan Henninger entitled, “ObamaCare‘s Lost Tribe: Doctors.” The article quotes the promise President Obama made to the American Medical Association’s annual meeting in 2009. The President stated, “No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.”

Well, did anyone ask the doctors about this? Somehow lost in the discussions of the processing of healthcare claims, the demand that everyone must have health insurance, and the institutional representatives of hospitals, drug companies, and insurance companies, we have forgotten what healthcare actual boils down to–a relationship between a doctor and a patient.

The article in the Wall Street Journal reminds us:

A Wall Street Journal story the day after the Supreme Court ruling examined in detail its impact across the “health sector.” The words “doctor,” “physician” and “nurse” appeared nowhere in this report. The piece, however, did cite the view of one CEO who runs a chain of hospitals, explaining how they’d deal with the law’s expected $155 billion in compensation cuts. “We will make it up in volume,” he said.

Volume? Would that be another word for human beings? It is now. At Obama Memorial, docs won’t be treating patients. They’ll be processing “volume.” And then, with what time and energy remains in the day, they’ll be inputting medical data to comply with the law’s new Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), lodged in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

This may be good for the government, but it is not good for the patient. The article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal goes on to explain how the emphasis in Obamacare on volume will impact medical care in America. Healthcare needs to be reformed, but Obamacare is not the answer. 

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