Cannabis Legalization: Should Wisconsin Do So?

Angela Janis 5 12 2021Dr. Angela Janis discussed the basics of medical cannabis at the May 12 Rotary meeting. Janis is a Psychiatrist at Mendota Mental Health Institute.

THC, the most active ingredient in cannabis, gets you high, but it also decreases pain, nausea, and helps you sleep. CBD doesn’t get you high, is not addictive, but probably decreases inflammation, anxiety and pain. CBD may counter the effect of THC.

Cannabis forms include flowers, edibles, concentrations such as vapes/oils, tinctures (to put under your tongue) topicals (for skin) and nasal spray. Onset of effect differs in these forms; for example effects from eating is slower than topicals.

Wisconsin is behind in legalizing cannabis; we are surrounded by states who have, led by California in 1996 (with medical use). Thirty-five states have fully legalized; many more allow medical marijuana. Several have decriminalized.

“We may be one of the last states to legalize” Janis said. “Nationally, we are behind on medical research; it’s the only drug where the national institute on drug abuse has to supply the material.” Janis said the institute gives research cannabis only to a small number of studies; 96% of studies receiving material are looking for harms.

“Their mission is about abuse, which may direct their research interest,” she said.

Most people use medical cannabis for pain, muscle spasms, nausea (especially for cancer), seizures, PTSD and end of life care. Since PTSD doesn’t have a proven treatment, anecdotal support for cannabis is accepted; there is good data for the other issues.

Janis reported cannabis does not take away pain like an opioid, but it has a much higher safety rate.

She added, “Don’t listen to someone who says, “Nobody is addicted to cannabis,” but the risk is much lower, similar to caffeine and lower than tobacco.” As with all drugs, the younger you begin using the drug, dependence is higher. Youth use is the biggest risk. Treatment includes behavioral therapy and possibly gabapentin.

When asked how legalizing cannabis would affect Wisconsin’s tavern industry, Janis reported alcohol sales dropped only slightly when cannabis was legalized in other states.

Our thanks to Dr. Angela Janis for her presentation this week and to Valerie Renk for preparing this review article. We also thank WisEye for streaming our meeting this week. If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/IiibynhFL7w.

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