Chat Day Live Question on Medical Marijuana

Video Length: 4:34
[Dr. Jack Stein speaking[]
This is the 10th
anniversary of Chat Day.

We’re doing something
new this year.

We’re taking video questions
that you guys have submitted to

us, and we have a scientist
here live to answer them.

So, let’s take a question.

And this next question
is from Molly, she’s with

Rivet High School in Indiana.

Let’s hear Molly’s question.

[Molly speaking]
People use marijuana for
medical reasons today.

How do doctors ensure that
the patient won’t be addicted

to marijuana once
the patient no longer

needs it for medical reasons?
[Dr. Jack Stein speaking]
OK, thanks for that
question, Molly.

We’re here with Dr. Dave.

[Dr. DaveThomas speaking]
Hi Molly, hi everyone.

[Dr Jack Stein speaking]
Dr. Dave is with the National
Institute on Drug Abuse.

And Dr. Dave, Molly has asked a
really interesting question.

It’s a topic that’s hot on
everyone’s minds these days, and

it has to do with
medical marijuana.

And the question is, what
happens to prevent somebody from

actually becoming addicted to
marijuana if they’re actually

taking it for medical purposes?

Interesting area,
can you comment on that?

[Dr. Dave Thomas speaking]
Yeah, it is an interesting
area Jack, I mean Dr. Jack.

And it’s something
we’re very concerned, at NIDA,

at the National
Institutes of Health.

Medical marijuana was
approved by voting.

It was--people voted, they
approved it in various areas.

It wasn’t--it didn’t
go through the FDA.

And normally when you go
through the FDA, you kind of

have a pretty good idea of what
the benefits of the drug are,

what the harms are.

But now we have it
being used medically, and

we don’t quite know
all of those facts.

And that’s why, we at the NIH,
we’re banding together to get

some of those facts for
clinicians and people

who want to use
medical marijuana for

their painful
conditions or whatever.

We’d like to get them some
data, some information to

tell them who it would work for,
how long it would work for,

what kind of doses,
and things like that.

So we can better inform both
the patients and the doctors.

[Dr Jack Stein speaking]
So, it sounds like we’re
still trying to understand and

learn about this, the types of
conditions that marijuana, or

some of the chemical components
of marijuana, may be useful for?

[Dr. Dave Thomas speaking]
Right, I’ve seen,
actually, a list of

maybe 50 or 100
different conditions that

medical marijuana
might be good for.

It’s probably not good
for all those things, but

it’s probably good
for some things.

And that’s why we at the
NIH need to do research.

I mean, cannabinoids
or--marijuana has

cannabidiol in it and THC--we
don’t know which one of those

things help people, or both,
or is it a combination;

what the doses are,
and things like that.

So, we really need to,
at the NIH, speed up,

try to catch up with the policy
of making it medically legal.

And inform the public about
when it can help them and

when it won’t help them.

Because we really want
to get medicines to people

that’s going to help them
without bad side effects.

And with marijuana we’re not
sure how to inform the public.

[Dr Jack Stein speaking]

Well, the potential
addictiveness, or problems

that could arise, from
using a drug like marijuana,

can you comment a little about
the possibility of actually

somebody becoming addicted or

dependent on a
drug like marijuana?

[Dr. Dave Thomas speaking]

Well, all medicines have
the potential of some harm.

Certainly, marijuana is abused
and people do become addicted.

They don’t overdose.
They don’t--but they
do use it despite harm.

I mean, our definition of
addiction is compulsive use

despite harm, and
certainly people do use

marijuana in that way.

So, when we introduce
it into a medical setting,

we have that concern that we
might take people that are

seeking medical relief
and turn them into addicts.

I mean certainly,
with the opioids and pain,

we have had problems in
that realm with it, and

we don’t want to repeat
that, even in a smaller way in

the marijuana--medical

[Dr Jack Stein speaking]
OK, so it sounds like a lot
more research and information is

needed about this particular
drug, which may have some

medical benefits, but
more research is needed, and

that’s really what we--

That’s what we’re here for.
[Dr. Dave Thomas speaking]

[Dr Jack Stein speaking]
Well, thank you for
being here today, and

guys, thanks for your question.

Molly, in particular,
appreciate you asking

this important question.