I am startled to read on the front page of today’s New York Times that marijuana can be used for Parkinson’s disease. But not so fast, bongo boy….only in New York, which moved last week to legalize medical marijuana for a wide variety of ailments, including PD. Across the 23 states (!) which have legalized medical marijuana, legislation covers a bewildering array of illnesses, including psoriasis, Tourette’s syndrome, and my personal favorite, nail-patella syndrome. (You’re dying to know, here it is: genetic disorder that results in small, poorly developed nails and kneecaps. Gosh, I love Wikipedia.)
And there is no proof that weed does anything for PD (except make you care less that you have the diagnosis). It’s that pesky scientific method again. The New York Times article goes on to say “The legal and administrative hoops [of researching marijuana, a controlled substance] make it hard for investigators to start the randomized, placebo-controlled trials that are the gold standard of medical research.”
Purely out of scientific curiosity, I wondered if there was anything to the weed-PD connection. A Google search of “Parkinson’s, marijuana” magically lists numerous optimistic results such as:
Sounds good, right? What’s the catch? These articles (ranging from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, an agency of the National Institute for Health, to High Times) are all about the same tiny study (22 patients at Tel Aviv University). This is a great illustration why you need to read critically when viewing scientific research on the Net.
But what do I care? On Monday, marijuana sales will be legal in Washington state and no medical justification will be needed. I’m kidding!! When I asked my neurologist about whether I should continue to drink alcohol, he didn’t outright ban it (nor have I stopped), but he did gently point out, “You’re already impaired.” So I’m certainly not going to impair myself further with marijuana!