Shame on CNN…

Medical Marijuana3Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, New Hampshire recently commented that Dr. Sanjay Gupta, former neurosurgeon and now medical correspondent for CNN, did a three-part series looking at medical marijuana.  In part #2, he briefly presented some evidence for the usefulness of certain strains of weed that have shown promise for various medical maladies.  There seems to be little controversy over applications of cannabinoids to the nausea and poor appetite often experienced during treatment for cancer.

Sanjay focused on one family living in New Jersey who have a daughter with a rare form of epilepsy that is exceedingly recalcitrant to standard medical treatment.  Despite trials of innumerable approved medications, the child continued to experience sometimes in excess of 100 seizures per day.  After many months of frustration with the medical community, the parents heard about the potential value of medical marijuana.  Their state of New Jersey however, banned use of marijuana for medical purposes.  CNN filmed a, rather public rebuke of the Governor, Chris Christie, who had proposed and signed the legislation.

Feeling hopeless, the parents finally decided to take their child to Colorado where weed is readily and legally available, and try an oil extract on the child.  After just a few days, the number of seizures dropped markedly.  By the time they returned to New Jersey, the state had passed yet another law, now allowing medical marijuana for select cases, and the parents sought a prescription for it.  However upon trying New Jersey weed, they found no effect, and suspected the growers and dispensaries in New Jersey didn’t have enough experience to provide a safe and effective product.  They then returned to Colorado, this time permanently, so they could have continuous access to the one chemical that seemed to benefit their child.  They were immediately gratified in that Charlotte’s Web strain of weed was once again particularly effective.

Part #2 of this CNN series thus ended, leaving the impression that this family would ride happily into the sunset, after having defied the mean spirited Chris Christie.  However before fading to black, a message popped up on the screen that informed the viewer that since filming ended, the parents had found Charlotte’s Web to be less effective over time.  They were now pursuing other strains that might be more effective.  Sanjay did not state this fact as part of the presentation, the message appeared more as an afterthought.

Are u kidding me?  The fact that the miracle of medical marijuana for this desperate family, was in the end not soMedical Marijuana4 miraculous, is a sad reality that needed to be faced, not only by the unfortunate family, but also the viewers.  The governor of New Jersey had imposed the ban for a reason—medical marijuana required more scientific scrutiny before blithely legalizing.  And the outcome with this family is a prime example of how time and resources can be utterly wasted on the basis of anecdotal “evidence.”

Like many treatments, such as prednisone for arthritis, chemo for cancer, L Dopa for Parkinsons, cannabinoids may not be a long term panacea.  CNN and Dr. Gupta are remiss for not exposing this real possiblity.  Shame on them!

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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