Why Most Doctors Don’t Know That Much About Marijuana

Doctors don’t get the training they need to properly advise patients

Dr. Nina Robb learned about the effects of alcohol intoxication when she was in medical school. She also learned about alcohol-induced liver disease. She learned about heroin overdose and how methamphetamine affects the human body.

When it came to marijuana, she never heard one word good or bad about the plant at medical school. I’m guessing now that the reason is there was nothing bad to say about marijuana and body toxicity.

“On the other hand, they didn’t teach us about nutrition either,” Robb says, pointing out that there may have been other gaps in medical education.

Robb, who recently opened the Integrity Medicine in Southfield, has been filling in the gaps in the years since she was in medical school. And she knows a lot more about medical marijuana. The IMG is a medical marijuana certification clinic, but Robb brings a lot more to the table than simply certifying that patients can get marijuana.

“I’ve always had an interest in herbal medicine as an adjunct to treatment in a variety of medical ailments,” Robb says. “I’ve been interested in that all my life. I’ve read a number of books on herbal medicines and cannabis is in those books.”

She’s also taken the course New York doctors are required to take if they are going to recommend marijuana to their patients. It’s only a four-hour class, but it’s more than Michigan doctors are required to take. The IMG Facebook page provides links to articles about medical marijuana. The sources are as varied as a Rolling Stone piece on Whoopi Goldberg-branded cannabis products for menstrual cramps, a study on PubMed (a website for medical literature) showing a positive relationship between cannabis use and surviving a traumatic brain injury, and a 158-page document from Health Canada on the use of cannabis and cannabinoids for medical purposes.

The Canadian document is particularly thorough, starting with the endocannabinoid system that “is an ancient, evolutionarily conserved, and ubiquitous lipid signaling system found in all vertebrates, and which appears to have important regulatory functions throughout the human body.”

The list of physiological processes it affects is too long to list here, but it actually begs the question: What doesn’t it affect?

However, it also begs the question of how to use it for different health issues, and in ways, people are comfortable with. That’s something Robb hopes to help patients work through.

“I started Integrity Medicine Group because I wanted to provide a clinic where patients would not just get a medical card, but counsel in the appropriate and safe use of cannabis,” says Robb. “Cannabis use has to be personalized, it’s not a one size fits all. Some patients would benefit more from vaporizing than smoking. A migraine patient during an acute migraine may not be able to take an edible.”

When it comes to using medical cannabis, you might rub it on your joints, or rub it on your skin. You might take it as a highly concentrated, powerful cancer-fighting agent known as Rick Simpson Oil, or as a less potent extract or infusion in numerous skin and beauty products. Some people want CBD products without the high-inducing THC. Some don’t want to smoke and prefer infused chocolate bars, cookies, suckers, and gummy candies. Hey, they even got a suppository. It was invented by the guy who grows the official U.S. pot at the University of Mississippi. He claims it’s the most efficient way to ingest marijuana.


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