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Sep-20-2007 05:48printcomments

Osteopathy Doctors and Medical Marijuana

Phillip Leveque has spent his life as a Combat Infantryman, Physician, Toxicologist and Pharmacologist.

Medical Marijuana symbol
Image courtesy: usmjparty.com

(MOLALLA, Ore.) - For those who don’t know, Osteopaths or DOs are about the same as MDs, but they also perform manipulations usually for bad backs, MDs can’t.

DOs have their own medical journals. The main one is called the DO. In May 2006, the DO published an article, "Cannabis Medicus" by Carolyn Schierhorn, in which several DOs gave their opinions about cannabis (marijuana) as medicine. Ms. Schierhorn had inquired through various state osteopathic organizations to get the names and opinions of DOs who were signing applications for their patients to use marijuana for medical purposes. She was able to find only one DO who was willing to tell of his positive experiences. This is the author of this article.

She was able to interview seven DO’s who appeared to be violently against any consideration of marijuana as medicine. Their remarks are the basis of this article. Dr. John T. Pham, a recent graduate said, “I know there are therapeutic benefits to it, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending it.” He further said he had enough effective medications without (even) considering cannabis. His patients don’t agree.

She interviewed Jeff Heatherington, Executive Director of the Oregon Osteopathic Organization. It was his opinion that medical marijuana advocates had an agenda for total legalization of the drug. He’s wrong.

Dr. Norman E. Vinn, Osteopathic National Vice President of San Clemente said, “The California medical marijuana law remains in a “state of limbo” a quasi-legal quagmire which afford few true protections for physicians or patients.” He’s wrong on this also.

Dr. Vinn seems to think a patient can fake symptoms and get permits to get “high” and sell for a profit. This is extremely rare. Patients must have a valid medical diagnosis.

Right now 70+ California doctors have signed permits for over 300,000 patients. California seems to have the best useful medical marijuana law.


Dr. Anthony H. Dekker of Indian Health Service in Phoenix, Arizona, is the former President of the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction medicine. He says “a significant amount of marijuana obtained would be for inappropriate purposes”.

He doesn’t seem to know that patients use medical marijuana to get off OxyContin, intolerable antidepressants, etc.

Dr. Tyler C. Cymet of Owings Mills, Maryland, says that marijuana is still illegal but patients can use it with a doctor’s recommendation. This is correct.

One of the craziest laws is in Hawaii where patients can use it legally and medically if they register with the police departments.

Vermont is one of the newest states to legalize medical marijuana in 2004. Dr. John McPartland of Middlebury, Vermont, indicates that physicians who help patients get permits are fully protected by Vermont’s laws.

Dr. George J. Pasquarello of Warwick, Rhode Island admits to good therapeutic effects of marijuana but will not recommend it till it is legal by federal law. He says, “States should not take it upon themselves to legalize the use of an illegal drug.”

This is strange because Marinol, pure THC, is a legal prescription drug. He says we should have supporting documentation of its benefits and safety. There are literally thousands of Medical Journal articles indicating the benefits and safety.

Dr. Douglas Jorgensen, a pain management specialist of Manchester, Maine, which has legalized medical marijuana states, “I could lose my DEA license if I recommend marijuana.” - IT HASN’T HAPPENED TO ANY DOCTOR.

Dr. Byron E. Perkins of Anchorage, Alaska, says “Medical Marijuana laws are as clear as mud”, and he requires all pain management patients to sign an agreement not to use marijuana or other illegal substances. He says “Other medications are available for the conditions marijuana is used to mitigate. I presume he is talking about OxyContin and MS Contin, which are among the worst addicting drugs.

The article extols the use of Marinol, “Why would patients insist on using marijuana unless they simply want to get high.”

The strange thing about this is that Marinol in the 10 mg dose frequently causes severe anxiety and panic attacks, which are worse than getting “high”, which last three or four hours and the patient won’t use it again.

If one disregards the quotations by Dr. Pham, Dr. Vinn, Dr. Dekker, Dr. Cymet, Dr. Pasquarello, Dr. Jorgensen, Dr. Perkins, and Jeff Heatherington about the incorrect allegations of the addiction liability and other hazards of medical marijuana, there is plenty of excellent information in this article.

After reading related articles in Time, Forbes, and Scientific American, I can say its one of the best.

I thought I might be the only Osteopathic doctor in Oregon signing applications. I found out that 200, which is 40 percent, of the state’s DOs are signing. By contrast, only 25 percent of MD’s have signed applications.

Oregon has 15,000 legal medical marijuana patients approved by 2,500 doctors.




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song bird November 16, 2010 9:50 am (Pacific time)

Any tips on how to find a dr here in MAINE! ;-)


jay April 17, 2009 9:12 am (Pacific time)

hey trying to find a doc in ri any tips


Bryan August 18, 2008 4:27 pm (Pacific time)

The comment,“Why would patients insist on using marijuana unless they simply want to get high” must be from a doctor with absolutely no concept of how "high" one gets from a Methadose tablet, or from dilaudid. I believe that the vast majority of prescribing physicians fall into this category. Marijuana side effects have still not been responsible for any overdose deaths, how about those opioids.


Jeff April 29, 2008 5:57 am (Pacific time)

Thank God for Dr. Leveque. I only wish I could afford to move to Oregon rather than being stuck in the ignorant midwest. Peace...


S.LaMarche; September 21, 2007 3:09 am (Pacific time)

Legalize It!

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