Recreational marijuana…


Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, PainCare, New Hampshire recently noted that the country seems abuzz (pun intended) with the grand debate about recreational marijuana.  One state after another has moved in progression from decriminalization, to legal ‘medical’ marijuana use, to allowance of small “personal use” quantities.  Big names such as Sanjay Gupta have come out in favor of medical use for certain otherwise untreatable disorders.  Development of vaporization techniques, analogous to vaporized nicotine, has virtually eliminated the detection of THC by the olfactory senses.  And of course oral ingestion achieves the same, albeit with a less intense high.

What is sidelined in the debate is the problematic indisputable fact that marijuana by any method causes a sensorium change, thus placing pot in the same room with alcohol.  However, there is clear evidence that excessive alcohol (different amounts for different people) can cause substantial organic harm such as chronic liver disease, neuropathies, cognitive deterioration and cardiomyopathies.  Such long term injury related to pot is difficult to find well documented in scientific literature.  Statistics for motor vehicle and other accidents are not readily available due to the ease of detection being simple with alcohol, more complicated with pot.

Regardless, from afar, the reasonable observer would estimate that the safety record of pot is overall significantly better than that of alcohol, which has been legal since the repeal of Prohibition.  It is possible that over time,marijuana will be found to cause unexpected health issues, unveiled only with unfettered access to it.  But that is unlikely since pot has been around just as long as alcohol, and researchers have not found the smoking gun yet (again pun intended).

In this author’s humble opinion,marijuana will gradually be legalized for personal use, and eventually for regulated and taxable distribution, in all 50 states, and the debate will finally subside. Or will it?

Whether use of pot will go up or down, whether its legalization will somehow promote the use of more deadly chemicals such as opioids, benzodiazepines, and myriad designer drugs, will be answered in the next few decades.  Will there be consequences for releasing the “marijuanagenie” from the bottle?


About Dr. Michael J. O'Connell, New Hampshire
Dr. Michael J. O'Connell of Barrington, New Hampshire, has forged a distinguished career spanning over three decades, as entrepreneur, physician, businessman, philanthropist and healthcare consultant. As former owner, administrator and CEO of a 225+ employee multi-specialty medical practice, Dr. O'Connell has dedicated his entire professional life to helping patients with family medicine and especially those experiencing chronic pain and all aspects of addiction. Since selling his family of healthcare businesses, he has never once contemplated retirement despite his rich and fulfilling journey, but instead has turned his focus to consulting in an industry starved for courage and creativity. Having weathered many political, technological and legal challenges, there is hardly a storm he has not confronted, a tempest he has not quelled, an urgent need he has not met. While the talking heads and self-proclaimed experts in the field have assumed the conventions and standards of the times, Dr. O'Connell does not believe in merely reflecting the herd mentality, but rather in leading the charge. Eschewing political correctness, Dr. O'Connell says and does what needs saying and doing, and not what the mindless masses expect. In addition to the continual education afforded by his variegated life experiences, Dr O'Connell earned his BS in Biochemistry at the University of NH in 1975, his Medical Degree from Dartmouth College in 1981, interned at Walter Reed Medical Center in 1982, Residency/Fellowship at UCSF in1986, and finished his Masters in Healthcare Administration at UNH in 1995. Dr. O’Connell enjoys many outdoor activities, including rock climbing, snowboarding, hiking, and golf. Through the decades Dr. O'Connell has supported many non-profit charities to include the St. Charles Home in Rochester NH, the Tri City VNA and Hospice, Hyder House, and Cocheco Valley Humane Society. To the latter organization alone Dr. O'Connell has donated over $180,000 and pledged another $250,000 in the “Bring-Us-Home” campaign for a new building. His “Matching Donations Christmas drive” has generated over $175,000 in charitable giving from the community. In addition Dr. O'Connell has participated in many dozens of other volunteer and donation efforts locally as well as in Africa and the Dominican Republic. For a listing of how I gave back to the community during my career and continue to do see:

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