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Pros and cons of medical marijuana

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Pros and cons of medical marijuana

Published Monday, April 25, 2016 4:44PM MDT
Last Updated Monday, April 25, 2016 7:42PM MDT

While the federal government plans to legalize pot, doctors debate how effective medical marijuana is in dealing with health issues.

"There's no question in my mind that I would rather my children use cannabis than alcohol," said Dr. Stephanie Mason, who is a specialist in psychiatry. Mason is one of a growing number of doctors who support the use of pot for chronic pain and other conditions. Mason has about 5,000 patients at her clinic, where they can get a prescription for legal, medical marijuana.

"There are a number of people who have been using illegal cannabis to treat specific medical conditions, which has been a huge eye-opener to me as a physician because I didn’t realize how beneficial marijuana is at a medical level," she said. “When you look at the dangers of some of the medications we prescribe and I’ve prescribed, cannabis is safe, it’s non-toxic, it doesn’t affect organ systems, people aren’t in hospital because of too much cannabis use.”

But some medical professionals urge caution when deciding whether or not to use weed.

"Somebody said this is not your mommas weed like Woodstock weed,” said Dr. Peter Nieman of drnieman.com. “It’s much stronger, about four times stronger THC component."

Some studies have shown that people under the age of 25 who smoke marijuana can lose eight IQ points and have long term memory loss.

But those who use pot to control medical conditions swear by it, and support having access to a pure, safe supply. Johanna Steinfeld starting using pot 10 years ago after a serious car accident left her in constant pain.

"I was in a lot of pain, and like we all do I tried physio and chiro and the pills the doctors gave me and then a friend of mine gave me cannabis," she said. “I find it’s just helped every aspect of my life in the sense that I’m relaxed and I feel good, and there are so many different types of cannabis, different types do different things, so I figured out a way to use it most effectively to help me with my life.”

The Liberal government has announced it will introduce marijuana legalization in the spring of 2017 making recreational pot legal.

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