Almost daily, Dr. Gogi Kumar is questioned at Dayton Children’s Hospital about medical marijuana by concerned parents of children who suffer from seizures.
Kumar is not alone in the curiosity she receives from patients about Ohio’s confusing medical marijuana program that is expected to begin in September.
Doctors told this newspaper they are bombarded with questions about medical marijuana and are concerned because they don’t have all the answers. There is an information gap on questions such as how effective marijuana is for specific disorders, how the compounds affect children and how it interacts with other medications, doctors said.
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Kumar, the hospital’s neurology medical director, said parents have seen examples of children who are helped by cannabis-based treatment and want that same relief for their kids.
“I’m not resistant to (recommending) medical marijuana, but I need data,” Kumar said. “Although it’s natural, marijuana is not like a vitamin. I have to be careful as to what I’m giving the patient.”
Ohio’s medical marijuana program is set to start Sept. 8, but patients who are hoping to take medical marijuana may still face another obstacle: physicians wrestling with issues of data gaps and ethical questions when it comes to recommending a substance that was approved for treating 21 disorders by a legislative vote, not the FDA.
There’s a lack of large, double-blind studies in the U.S. on the effects of medical marijuana on specific conditions. And with the studies that are out there, said Dr. Glen Solomon, it’s hard to control whether the exact strain and dosage studied is what his patient ends up taking.