Pa. doctor group: Medical marijuana needs studies, not law

There have been dozens of rallies at the Capitol supporting the legalization of medical marijuana, but some feel the Capitol is not the place to decide which medicine you should be using.

“The legislature really should not be in that business of legislating medical practice. It is too clumsy,” said Dr. Bruce MacLeod, an emergency doctor at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh and president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, which does not support legalizing medical marijuana in the state right now.

“While there may be anecdotal stories that have very good outcomes, we are ecstatic about that,” MacLeod said. “We want people to live lives and be happy. We also are concerned that you just do not put it out to the general population without information.”

MacLeod says part of the problem is the federal government considers marijuana a Schedule I drug, so it can not be studied. His main concern is any potential long-term effects from the use of medical cannabis.

“Your seizures may go down, but five years from now you’re going to have cancer of your esophagus; we don’t know that, so we need to understand that better,” he said. “I want to understand it. I want to know that if I prescribe it to you, what are the potential complications.”

The Pennsylvania Medical Society would like to see the fight taken to a higher level.

“Doing it here in Pennsylvania is one thing, but really advocating for the FDA to move it from Schedule I to Schedule II would really open the doors for us to do the research,” MacLeod said. “That would be great fight that would be worth doing. Research could be done much more quickly across the country. That would be a big win.”

The Pennsylvania Medical Society supports Governor Tom Corbett’s plan to introduce legislation that would allow for research of the oil form of medical cannabis.

Senate Bill 1182 is still in committee at the Capitol.

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