Pharmaceutical Medical Marijuana

Doctors have, since the 1980s, been able to prescribe pharmaceutical cannabinoids as treatments for glaucoma and nausea, among other conditions. Given the stigma against medical marijuana, many doctors argue that pharmaceutical cannabinoids offer similar results without their patients having to resort to using marijuana in its more natural state.

Marinol and Sativex

Marinol, first approved for medical use in 1985, is a pharmaceutical form of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Given in pill form, Marinol is the most widely available pharmaceutical cannabinoid. Sativex, an oral spray that combines pharmaceutical THC with pharmaceutical cannabidiol, has been recently introduced in Canada and the European Union.

Problems with Pharmaceuticals

While pharmaceutical cannabinoids can bring symptom relief, especially in cases of nausea suppression or appetite stimulation, doctors who prescribe marijuana usually see better results from whole-plant therapies. Some of the reasons behind this include:

  • Slow onset time—While inhaled marijuana takes effect within minutes, pharmaceuticals like Marinol can take up to an hour to produce the desired effect.
  • Dosing issues—Many medical marijuana patients are able to easily control their own dosage by inhaling just enough medicine to relieve their symptoms while experiencing few of the side effects associated with heavy doses. With Marinol, even a single pill can provide a heavier dose than many patients need, relieving their symptoms but also causing unpleasant side effects.
  • Complex chemistry of marijuana—THC is only one of many cannabinoids found in marijuana. While much research is still being done on cannabinoids, the ways in which they work together is not fully understood. But most patients experience better results from whole plant therapies. For example, cannabidiol mitigates some of the psychoactive effects of THC while leaving its therapeutic value unchanged. Pharmaceuticals like Marinol simply don’t have the same synergistic effects of multiple cannabinoids working together.

For these reasons, many doctors who prescribe marijuana favor whole-plant therapies over pharmaceutical cannabinoids.

Marijuana Doctors in New Mexico

“Marijuana doctors” is very much a misnomer in New Mexico. Doctors here do not prescribe marijuana. Doctors can certify that your condition meets the requirements of the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program, allowing you to complete your application to the program and submit it to the Department of Health.

Many so-called “medical marijuana doctors” may practice alternative medicine, or have full-service medical practices. At Albuquerque Integrative Medicine, we concentrate on one thing: helping qualified patients gain access to New Mexico’s medical cannabis program.