Research Needed to Prove Any Marijuana Medical Benefit

TMA Testimony on House Bill 837

House Public Health Committee
House Bill 837 by Rep. Elliott Naishtat

April 28, 2015

The Texas Medical Association, the Texas Pediatric Society, and the Texas Neurological Society, on behalf of our 48,000-plus physician and medical student members and the millions of Texans that we serve, is pleased to offer testimony on House Bill 837 by Rep. Elliott Naishtat. Our testimony expresses our awareness of the growing interest among our patients and our physicians on the use of marijuana as “medicine” and our role in helping them maintain and improve their health and prevent adverse health outcomes. 

TMA recently completed a systemic review of the current research and clinical indications of marijuana and its compounds and its potential risks and therapeutic benefits. Having reviewed more than two decades of studies, we join other medical associations in recognizing that there is a lack of science and practice on marijuana to inform physicians properly on its medical effects for various conditions. Certainly, the lack of expanded study and evidence can be attributed to its Schedule 1 classification, which has greatly limited the types and rigor of research. We support a rescheduling of marijuana to facilitate research on marijuana, including cannabinoid-based medications, as well as the most appropriate delivery methods. This research is critical for physicians to inform patients on whether marijuana can provide therapeutic support, for which conditions it may be appropriate, for accurate dosing levels, and for determining if these products are more beneficial than other approved medications with less threat of substance abuse and addiction.   

With a number of states allowing nonresidents to obtain marijuana for “medical” uses, physicians must assume that some of our patients, particularly those suffering with debilitating symptoms, are currently using or seeking access to marijuana. We therefore must be able to have a free exchange of information with them on the effects and use of marijuana. House Bill 837 offers protection for physicians who must have free and unfettered discussions with patients on marijuana use as well as other botanical products and complementary therapies. 

The cornerstone of the patient-physician relationship is open communication on the issues and questions that concern our patients. This includes having discussions with those who may be at risk of marijuana use or who may want information on positive and negative impacts of marijuana use for certain conditions or symptoms. While we lack an adequate clinical understanding on the use of marijuana and marijuana products for medical use, we look forward to working with Representative Naishtat and the members of the House Public Health Committee as you consider this and other legislation related to this issue. 

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Last Updated On

June 20, 2016

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