By Doug Flanagan | Published By Daily Nexus
Local physician and former UCSB Psychology professor Dr. David Bearman is calling on the federal government to fund research of cannabis-based medicines.
The rejection of Proposition 19 — which would have legalized various marijuana-related activities — has sparked debate about whether marijuana should be marketed for medical treatments. Bearman, who founded the Isla Vista Neighborhood Clinic in 1970, has proposed legislation that would support further research of this issue.
According to Bearman, studies could prove marijuana as an effective treatment for diseases including cancer, post traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“Marijuana is one of the most beneficial and least side-effect causing drugs known to man,” Bearman said. “The therapeutic value of cannabis is enormous and as a drug it is often more effective, less expensive and causes less complications than many of the treatments currently being used to treat many different types of illness.”
Bearman also said America is missing an economic opportunity by refusing to manufacture these types of medications.
“There is an enormous potential market for cannabis-based medicines and we are losing the money to other countries,” Bearman said. “Personally, as a doctor I do not care who markets these products but as an American I would like to see the American pharmaceutical companies to be the ones doing it.”
Despite the benefits of researching medical pot, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at University of Ottawa Dr. Barry Dworkin said he does not prescribe marijuana on the grounds that the respiratory and mental side effects of its use could cause patients harm.
“I, and many other physicians, choose not to prescribe marijuana for long-term chronic illness,” Dworkin said. “I cannot prescribe a medication that has the potential over years of use to cause more known harm and health complications in addition to the patient’s original conditions.”
Second-year undeclared Santa Barbara City College student Sugar McGee said the medical marijuana system needs improved regulation and consistency.
“Dispensaries are interesting to see. Some are very strict and some are very relaxed,” McGee said. “I have been to one that had an armed guard and another that did not even check my ID.”
According to Bearman, the current system’s unreliable care gives medication to those who do not really need it, potentially slowing the treatment progress.
“These pot-doctors, maybe out of greed, are giving out medications to anyone, and this tends to slow down the progress we can make in treating diseases,” Bearman said. “I would not prescribe cannabis to most college students because most college students are not sick.”
A version of this article appeared on page 4 of Jan. 10, 2011’s print edition of the Nexus.