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Employees of medical marijuana dispensaries advocate the use of marijuana for treating glaucoma-contradicting the recommendations of the American Glaucoma Society (AGS) and the current glaucoma literature.
Employees of medical marijuana dispensaries advocate the use of marijuana for treating glaucoma-contradicting the recommendations of the American Glaucoma Society1 (AGS) and the current glaucoma literature. Patients should be properly educated during clinical encounters about marijuana regarding treatment of glaucoma.
The use of medical marijuana by adults has more than doubled in the United Sates between 2001 and 2013 with the legalization of the drug in a number of states nationwide, one of the first of which was Colorado in 2000.
In 2009, a position paper issued by the AGS advised against the use of marijuana for treating glaucoma. However, patients continue to ask about the drug’s possible benefits, according to Jordan Stanley, MD, instructor/fellow, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO.
To determine the recommendations that employees of medical marijuana dispensaries are giving patients who are considering marijuana to treat their glaucoma, Dr. Stanley and colleagues conducted a study in which dispensaries were called by a person posing as a patient with glaucoma. The primary study outcome was the number of dispensaries that recommended a product containing marijuana for treatment of glaucoma.
Investigators randomly chose 60 medical marijuana dispensaries to call from the website of the Colorado Department of Revenue Enforcement Division. The caller pretended to be a patient with glaucoma and asked questions about marijuana use for glaucoma while working from a prepared script.
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When asked about the availability of marijuana products recommended for treating glaucoma, the investigators reported that 35 (58%) of the dispensaries responded yes they recommend using marijuana, and 25 (42%) dispensaries deferred from making a recommendation.
When the employees were asked about the recommended method of use, 45% recommended using the sublingual tincture, 21% edible consumption, 20% no preference, and 14% inhalation.
When questioned regarding the safety of the products, 78% claimed that the marijuana products were safe, and 22% deferred from making a recommendation.
Finally, when the caller asked about the need to contact his or her eye doctor for a recommendation, 38% responded yes, 35% claimed that was optional, 17% recommended contacting a marijuana doctor, and 10% responded no.
The investigators reported their findings at the annual meeting of the AGS in March 2019.
“Our findings highlighted the importance of patient education during clinical encounters regarding marijuana use as a glaucoma treatment,” Dr. Stanley said. “Despite the recommendations of the AGS and the current glaucoma literature, the majority of employees of medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado recommend marijuana for treatment of glaucoma.”
Jordan Stanley, MD
Dr. Stanley has no financial interest in any aspect of this report.
1Hasin BS, et al. Prevalence of marijuana use disorders in the united states between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72:1235-1242.