VANCOUVER - Not all medicinal marijuana is created equal. That's what some experts are saying as they warn about the health risks and curtailed effectiveness associated with smoking medicine.
As medical pot becomes increasingly mainstream and Canada moves toward legalizing the substance, health experts are emphasizing the need for doctors and patients to consider the sometimes serious side effects linked to the various ways of consuming the drug.
Paul Farnan, an addictions specialist at the University of British Columbia, likened a recommendation to smoke medicinal marijuana to a doctor handing out a prescription to light up an opium pipe.
"We know there's something in opium that helps pain, and we're able to pharmaceutically develop morphine and other analgesics, but we wouldn't say to people, 'You have pain? Why don't you smoke opium?' '' he said.
"We're kind of saying to people, 'We think there's some stuff that cannabinoids will be helpful for. Why don't you just smoke cannabis?' First of all, cannabis is actually a really dangerous thing for your lungs.''
Mikhail Kogan, medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., said he sees no reason for people to smoke marijuana medically anymore.