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Marinol: Weed By Prescription?

Posted by Jason Draizin on 02/07/2011 in Medical Marijuana

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal government, which means it is illegal for doctors to prescribe it. However, as of February 2011, fifteen states and Washington DC have passed laws that allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients. If you ask the U.S. Drug Enforcement Association (DEA), though, they’ll tell you that medical marijuana is in fact available by prescription: in the form of Marinol.

 

Marinol, also called Dronabinol, is a synthetic version of THC that is available by prescription. It comes in the form of a pill and is also being studied by researchers for suitability via other delivery methods, such as an inhaler or patch.  Marinol is used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy in patients who are not responding well to other medications to treat this type of nausea and vomiting. Marinol is also used to treat loss of appetite and weight loss in people who have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

 

Marinol is widely available through prescription, and has been studied and approved by the medical community and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The DEA actually helped facilitate the research after The National Cancer Institute approached the DEA in the early 1980s regarding their study of THC in relieving nausea and vomiting in cancer patients.

 

Marinol sure sounds great, but unfortunately there are some downsides:

1.    Marinol doesn’t work for everyone. It’s been reported that Marinol in general provides only limited relief to select patients, especially in comparison with natural cannabis.

2.    There are many other ingredients in the cannabis plant that are therapeutic, not just THC. For example Cannabidiol (CBD)—just one of many therapeutic cannabinoids in medical marijuana—has been medically shown to relieve convulsion, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea, as well as inhibit cancer cell growth. But Marinol only mimics the medicinal qualities of THC, which means it cannot replace medical marijuana for many ailments.

3.    Marinol is much more psychoactive and has much more side effects than the natural cannabis plant. Marinol side effects include the feeling of being "high," drowsiness, irritability, dizziness, depression, anxiety, confusion, changes in mood, muddled thinking and coordination impairment.

4.    Natural is better. Marinol is a man-made chemical and a synthetic version of THC. Pure natural THC can only be found in the cannabis plant, which grows naturally. When given a choice, most patients prefer the natural version.