Clinical Perspective on Cannabis the Topic of Recent Town Hall
Clinical Perspective on Cannabis the Topic of Recent Town Hall

Stakeholders, physicians and friends of the Las Vegas Medical District and the Clark County Medical Society recently gathered at City Hall for a free Town Hall focused on Cannabis from a clinical perspective.

There was strong attendance from the local medical community given that the town hall also included the opportunity for physicians to earn a Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit. The evening’s primary presentation was given by Brian Lawenda, M.D., one of only a handful of physicians in the United States who is a radiation oncologist, integrative oncologist and medical acupuncturist. He is the medical director for the Northwest Cancer Clinic/21st Oncology in Kennewick, WA.

The primary take-aways from Dr. Lawenda’s presentation included research findings that state there is no increased risk of cancer with use of marijuana;  the dangers of possible fungal outbreaks in medical marijuana; the dangers of vaping, particularly with the use of non-commercial vaping products; the inaccuracy of labeling as it relates to CBD and THC; and the overall health benefits of CBD products, particularly related to pain control, neuroprotection, appetite stimulation and memory improvement.  Dr. Lawenda also believes that because CBD products are less addicting than opioids, they present a better avenue for treating pain and the nausea and discomfort that is often associated with cancer.

Johnathan Rhodes, a health care attorney in the business and finance practice group of Fennemore Craig Attorneys, provided an overview on the legalities of CBD products, citing that on a federal level, Marijuana is still a Schedule 1 substance, making its use, possession and distribution illegal. Rhodes explored the liability aspects for physicians. In Nevada, where both recreational and medicinal marijuana is now legal, there are still some precautions physicians should take, he said.  There can be no written “prescription” for medical marijuana since it is illegal under federal law.  But physicians can provide “written documentation” to recommend its use for patients diagnosed with chronic or debilitating diseases, including AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, severe pain and nausea, to name a few.  Physicians must also seek approval of the primary caregiver and fully explain all possible risks and benefits.  And because the standard of care may be higher for marijuana and CBD related products, physicians should educate themselves and fully understand the implications for recommending its use to patients to avoid malpractice.

And finally, in a panel discussion, Michael S. Laymon, chief research officer, College of Medicine, Touro University Nevada, stated his belief that there is a role for CBD and medical marijuana in traditional medicine, but more research is needed.  Dr. Laymon, who currently serves on the National Pain Advisory Board for Pfizer and is a frequent presenter at medical conferences focused on the opioid crisis, has long been interested in ways to treat pain without the use of opioids. But he points out there is a glut of consumer misinformation about CBD related products.  He is a champion of doing more research to better understand CBD’s properties, effects and benefits.

Photo: Clark County Medical Society President, Daniel Burkhead, MD, at the LVMD Town Hall

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