On Tuesday evening, May 8th at Saxe Auditorium, the New Canaan Parent Support Group and New Canaan Cares hosted Dr. Kevin Hill and a panel of experts to discuss marijuana—the medical facts and risks. Dr. Hill—who is an Author, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and addiction psychiatrist–presented to an audience of local parents and concerned citizens.
Following the presentation, an expert panel joined Dr. Hill on the stage: John Douglas of Silver Hill Hospital, Amy McDonnell of Aware Recovery Care and John Hamilton of Mountainside Treatment Center. In the panel discussion that followed, many questions were raised and answered. Some topics, however, didn’t get addressed. Some of these are listed below, along with answers from Dr. Hill:
- What are the risks and rewards of using the CBD products which are derived from marijuana? Hill: The cannabinoid CBD has been isolated and sold in many forms, including pills, lotions, oils, sprays, topicals, and vaporizers. It is used to relieve symptoms of many different conditions (e.g., seizures, chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia). While CBD has been tested in the lab and in animals, there is very limited data from human studies. In addition, there is a lack of consistency and reliability of CBD products; dosages and quality can vary dramatically. CBD has been significantly tested in humans for childhood-onset epilepsy, and the CBD liquid Epidiolex is awaiting final FDA approval. If patients and their doctors think CBD may be helpful, it is safer to use a FDA-approved medication. One final note: all CBD products have side effects–and drug interaction effects–which can result in liver toxicity, low blood pressure, drowsiness, diarrhea and vomiting.
- I’m a parent with young children. What research should I read about the correlation between marijuana use and IQ? Hill: In my presentation, I noted three different studies that have tied early-onset marijuana use with lower IQ. The most thorough study is the Meier study, which followed 1,037 individuals born in New Zealand between 1972-1973. This birth cohort was broken down by age of initiation of cannabis use, and cognitive testing took place at age 13 and age 38. Impairment of cognitive function was highest with early-onset cannabis users.
- What’s your view of using medical marijuana for pain? Hill: I co-wrote a clinical review of cannabis and pain in 2017 with three colleagues. Our conclusion was that yes, there is converging but limited evidence to support the notion that cannabis can produce acute pain-inhibitory effects among individuals with chronic pain. With this evidence, a patient with chronic pain and their healthcare provider may want to consider a cannabis trial if first- and second- line treatment modalities have been tried without success. However, keep in mind that herbal marijuana has not undergone the FDA process for demonstrating safety and efficacy and is a crude cannabinoid delivery system.
- What are the ways that marijuana is used? Hill: Not only is marijuana more potent than 20 or 30 years ago, but there are many different consumption methods. Some may be used for medical marijuana, and some are more for recreational use: 1) Inhalation: smoking, gravity bongs, vaping and dabbing; 2) Oral: oils, tinctures, edibles, beverages, capsules & sprays; 3) Topical: extracts that are absorbed through the skin and used for muscle aches/soreness.
- How do I get my loved one to agree to an evaluation for marijuana use disorder? Hill: As was discussed during the event, it will take family members working together and openly communicating, to get a loved one to act. Approach you loved one with empathy, and use “I” statements like “I’m concerned about you”. You can literally ask them for a gift of being evaluated. As the parent or spouse, you can facilitate the process by finding a professional and scheduling the evaluation appointment.
On Thursday, August 30th, at 7PM, the New Canaan Parent Support Group and New Canaan Community Foundation are hosting the 2nd Annual Overdose Awareness Vigil. Similar to last year, citizens of our community will come together to Engage, Listen and Honor. There will be music, a Hope & Remembrance Wall, speakers who will share lived experiences, and a united group of clergy leading a candlelight vigil. Please see our Facebook Event Page here.
—Paul Reinhardt, Founder, New Canaan Parent Support Group, original note written 6/4/18