Marijuana as Treatment Lacks Sufficient Scientific Study, but Preserve Patient-Physician Dialogue

TMA Testimony on House Bill 2200 by Rep. Gina Hinojosa

House Public Health Committee 

April 24, 2017

The Texas Medical Association and the Texas Pediatric Society, on behalf of our 50,000-plus physician and medical student members and the millions of Texans that we serve, are pleased to have to opportunity to offer testimony on House Bill 2200 by Rep. Gina Hinojosa. Our testimony expresses our awareness of the growing interest among some of our patients and our physicians in the use of marijuana as “medicine” and our role in helping our patients maintain and improve their health and prevent adverse health outcomes.  

In 2015, TMA completed a systemic review of the research and clinical indications of marijuana, its compounds, and its potential risks and therapeutic benefits. Having reviewed more than two decades of studies, we confidently join other medical associations in recognizing there is a lack of science and practice on the medical effects of marijuana to inform physicians adequately about its proper application and use for various health conditions. Unfortunately, the lack of expanded study and evidence on marijuana as medicine is because of its Schedule 1 classification, which has greatly limited the types and rigor of research. We have endorsed a rescheduling of marijuana to facilitate research — including cannabinoid-based medications, as well as the most appropriate delivery methods. This research is critical for physicians so they can inform patients whether marijuana can provide therapeutic support, recognize for which conditions it may be appropriate, prescribe accurate dosing levels, and determine if these products are more beneficial than other approved medications with less threat of substance abuse and addiction.   

With several states allowing nonresidents to obtain marijuana for “medical” uses, physicians must assume 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 2200 offers protection for physicians who must be able to 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 physicians do not have an adequate clinical understanding of the medical use of marijuana and marijuana products, we look forward to working with Representative Hinojosa 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

July 06, 2017