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    Marijuana’s role in optometry and beyond

    Seattle—Bob Prouty, OD, FAAO, educated a packed house at the American Optometirc Association’s Optometry’s Meeting on marijuana’s use in and outside of eye care.

    Because his father was a police officer, Dr. Prouty has never used marijuana, medically or otherwise. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t see the potential benefits—or harms—of medical marijuana.

    His eyes were opened to the drug’s potential medical benefits after seeing Sanjay Gupta’s report on CNN about Charlotte Figi, a small child from Colorado who was suffering from Dravet Syndrome, a rare, severe form of intractable epilepsy. As a toddler, Figi suffered from 300 grand mal seizures a week. Her parents were able to find a type of marijuana that was high in cannabidiol (CBD) but low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the intoxicant. They were able to use the oil from this strain of marijuana to greatly reduce Figi’s seizures. You can read Charlotte Figi’s story here.

    Related: Marijuana and optometry: Practicing post-legalization

    At a federal level, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug. While the attitudes about marijuana seem to be shifting across the country, to date only four states have completely legalized marijuana—Colorado, Washington, Oregeon, and Alaska—which has made studying the drug and its effect on various diseases and conditions rather difficult.

    In 1997, the Institute of Medicine released a report on medical marijuana.

    “While there was a remarkable conscientious about the potential of cannabinoid drugs for medical use, there was far less convincing data about the proven medical benefits about whether this should be utilized at all,” he says. “A review of the science behind marijuana and cannabinoids suggests that the debate so far has been very much misunderstood. Medical use of potent, controlled psychoactive drugs has not led to abuse, based on that report. Rather than focusing on the drug control policy, the medical marijuana debate should really be more about future drug development.”

    Under the guidance of a well-educated and involved doctor, there are certain cases in which medical marijuana can be used proactively and appropriately, says Dr. Prouty.

    But does that extend to eye care?

    Next: Marijuana as a glaucoma treatment

    Colleen E. McCarthy
    Colleen McCarthy is a freelance writer based in the Cleveland area and a former editor of Optometry Times. She is a 2010 graduate of the ...


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