“Stop showcasing unfounded medical claims”

Colorado coalition and doctors call on Denver Post and Leafly to stop unfounded medical claims for pot.

 Denver Post deflects request from concerned professionals for evidence and protocols.

“Green Crack” marijuana can treat depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and ADHD according to the Denver Post’s The Cannabist web site. Green Crack marijuana is just one of more than 90 marijuana strains listed with medical recommendations for treating mental health issues that are provided by Lealfy, the same company that became the New York Times’ first marijuana business advertiser. The recommendations and the absence of critical information and protocols are a cause for alarm according to two mental health experts and leader of a Colorado statewide coalition concerned about marijuana use and the marijuana industry.

An email dated August 6, 2014 to the editors of the Denver Post and The Cannabist outlined 92 Colorado specific marijuana strains found on The Cannabist web site where medical recommendations are made for mental illness, including PTSD, depression, Bipolar Disorder, and ADHD.  There are even strains that treat cancer according to the site.  The review of the 92 Colorado specific marijuana strains, provided by Leafly, found 88 recommended for treating Depression, 25 for PTSD, 23 for Bipolar Disorder, and 40 for ADD-ADHD. The information posted on the site from Leafly listed no instructions or protocols for taking the recommended marijuana such as how much, for how long, or should it be taken with other medications.

The email from the public health professionals stated: “In light of the serious potential impact of your recommendations, including possible delay in medical treatment for serious and potentially life threatening mental illnesses, and the potential for worsening of those illnesses by the marijuana you recommend, we request that you release the data upon which these recommendations for dispensing the specific marijuana strains as a treatment …are based.” The e-mail also requested to know, for each strain, the recommended dosage, duration, the THC and CBD content, whether the Post or the Cannabist was recommending they be used with or without FDA approved medication or behavioral treatment for the condition, and whether other physical or mental health issues should preclude certain people from using the strain.

 In a reply also dated August 6, Denver Post Editor Greg Moore did not agree the Post was endorsing any product for medical purposes and supported its relationship with leafly stating “While the gravity of the content is definitely not the same, what Leafly is doing is not all that different from, say, Rotten Tomatoes. In both cases, the market determines the value of its information and they both use the crowd to evaluate the products,” Moore said in his e-mail response. He stated the request for information should be directed at Leafly.

 “Comparing a web site making claims for treatment of serious mental health issues to a web site rating movies and TV shows is absurd and demonstrates a reckless approach to their posting of medical claims on their own web site,” said Bob Doyle, Chair of Colorado SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) Coalition.  “People should be concerned that the Post did not appear to have, or feel the need to possess, any medical documentation supporting the claims or any listed medical protocols, such as dose or duration, for each of the strains,” Doyle added.

Colorado SAM is calling for the Post and Leafly to provide the requested information, to end their reckless practices, and Colorado SAM calls on the FDA and other regulators to get off the sidelines to protect public health and safety and patients seeking treatment. “Why is the medical marijuana industry receiving a free pass when it comes to established protocols for determining and dispensing of medicine?,” Doyle added.

The August 6 email was sent from Dr. Eden Evins, Director, Center for Addiction Medicine Massachusetts General Hospital; Dr. Chris Thurstone, a Colorado based General, child and addiction psychiatrist; and Bob Doyle, Chair of the Colorado SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) Coalition.  Doyle has worked in tobacco prevention for 20 years in addition to his on marijuana use. Colorado SAM is the Colorado affiliate of Project SAM, a national movement promoting a public health and science based approach to marijuana and medical marijuana that does not include commercialization.  For more information about Project SAM, go to www.learnaboutsam.com

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Project SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of “incarceration versus legalization” when discussing marijuana use, and instead focus on a “health-first” policy that neither demonizes nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports tackling mental health treatment and stopping the next “Big Tobacco” in the form of “Big Marijuana.” SAMi is supported by a world renowned science advisory board and has affiliates in 27 states.