Multiple sclerosis is a potentially debilitating disease that affects millions of Americans. As it attacks a person’s central nervous system, sufferers can experience many different symptoms like fatigue, numbness, dizziness and pain.
Since I have recently become licensed to prescribe medical marijuana in New Jersey, I do consider it as a possible treatment for specific patients. Below I have answered some questions associated with medical marijuana as a treatment for multiple sclerosis.
Q: What are some pros and cons of using medical marijuana for relief of MS symptoms?
A: Pain associated with multiple sclerosis can often be very difficult to treat. Unfortunately, a lot of the traditional medications that are used can have significant side effects. Medical marijuana can be very helpful in treating the pain associated with MS without resulting in the typical side effects of other treatments like high dose opioids, such as constipation and nausea. Long term use of opioids results in the development of a tolerance to the medication, often requiring the need for higher doses. As far as I am aware this is not the case with Marijuana.
Q: How is medical marijuana treatment administered?
A: THC can be administered orally or via inhaling the dried cannabis.
Q: How should this treatment be used: as a long-term medication or "as-needed"?
A: Medical marijuana should be used on an as needed basis.
Q: Are there any side effects?
A: As helpful as marijuana can be, it is not without its own side effects. Some of these side effects include impaired mental functioning, decreased inhibitions, fatigue, dry mouth, hunger, memory problems, increased anxiety/paranoia, respiratory problems, nausea, dizziness, numbness, panic reactions, hallucinations, flashbacks, depression, and sexual problems.
Q: Are the side effects temporary or permanent?
A: These side effects are usually short lived and resolve within 24 hours after using the medication.
Q: What rules and regulations must doctors follow when prescribing this form of treatment?
A: In order to prevent abuse we have established protocols in our office to prevent the recreational user from seeking medical marijuana. First there are only a few conditions for which we will prescribe medical marijuana: Multiple Sclerosis, Cancer, and Crohn’s Disease. Additionally, all patients that we are treating are required to sign an opioid/marijuana prescribing policy. By signing this policy they agree to take the medication as we prescribe and not to receive any other pain medications from other providers. In addition, they are randomly drug screened to determine that they are using the medication that we prescribe and that no other medications are being taken. Any noncompliance results in our discontinuation in writing for any further pain medications.
About Dr. Scott Gottlieb:
Dr. Scott Gottlieb is a pain management expert and the founder of Gramercy Pain Management. He is the director of Pain Management at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (NYEE) and has treated over 3,000 patients. Dr. Gottlieb is board certified in both pain management and anesthesiology. He has offices in both Manhattan and Montebello, N.Y. in Rockland County.