EXCLUSIVE: Jordan Tishler, MD Talks About Medical Cannabis, Success Rates, Side Effects And That It Should Be A Specialty Field Of Its Own

While the Internet appears to have all the answers we need, it is more important than ever to know how to use it, where to look for information, and more importantly, to confirm if it is indeed true. Mark Twain is attributed as saying: "A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth puts on its shoes.”

The Same Applies To Cannabis 

With so many online sources praising the effectiveness of cannabis and its derivatives such as CBD for treating various illnesses, one could almost get the impression that the authors are trying not only to convince you of CBD's benefits but that it can also make you immortal. 

That’s why Benzinga decided to garner some realistic insight from an authority on the topic. To that end, we reached out to Jordan Tishler, MD - an emergency room physician, president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists (an advocacy group engaged in setting up the best standards in the practice of cannabis medicine), Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and CEO of his private practice inahleMD. 

Recently, Tishler was named 2021 Medical Professional of the Year by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) in recognition of his contribution to the medical cannabis sphere. ASA is the largest national organization comprised of medical cannabis providers, medical professionals, scientists, patients and private citizens focused on enabling safe and legal access to cannabis for medical purposes. 

Tishler, who has been treating veterans for years, suggests medical cannabis as a treatment for various ailments, such as multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, anxiety and depression. Tishler also played an important role in the implementation and advancement of medical cannabis regulations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia, Connecticut and Hawaii. 

Tishler shared his experience and insights on medical cannabis and how he got into the field after 15 years of practicing emergency medicine.

“It was during this time that I got interested in cannabis medicine since I’d seen so many veterans injured by alcohol (and occasionally other substances) but never by cannabis,” Tishler told Benzinga. 

After delving into the research, Tishler realized that cannabis can be a useful medication if used adequately and for the right kind of patient.  

70% Success Rate 

Based on his professional experience, medical cannabis treatments have around a 70% success rate, compared to conventional medications where 40% is considered good. Cannabis can be used to treat a variety of illnesses, including insomnia, nausea and eating disorders caused by chemotherapy as well as chronic pain and mood issues like anxiety and depression, Dr. Tishler explained. 

Even though cannabis has an amazing success rate, it must be used cautiously and properly. Tishler noted that cannabis safety is just as important as any other drug though when used carefully, it is remarkably safe and effective.

There Are Side Effects If Not Used Properly - The Illness Dictates The Product  

“However, no medication is without risk or side effects, and cannabis is no different. If used at a low dose on the appropriate dosing schedule it can be helpful, but if too much is used or at the wrong times, it can create anxiety, worsen depression, create tolerance, and ultimately lead to a use disorder. None of which is seen if, again, it’s used properly,” Dr. Tishler clarified. 

What is also of enormous importance is the fact that not all cannabis products have “actual medical utility. In fact, most do not,” Dr. Tishler emphasized.

According to him, some cannabis forms are better or safer than others. As such, the vaporization of cannabis flower seems to be safer than smoking or using a vape pen (oil-based).

“Some illnesses are better treated by inhalation, others by oral ingestion - these approaches are not successfully swapped and it’s not a matter of patient preference - they work differently and the approach is dictated by the illness,” Dr. Tishler pointed out.

Cannabis Patients Are Largely Seniors 

Unexpectedly, most of Tishler's medical cannabis patients are elderly - aged 70 and above. His eldest patient was 104! Many of them suffer from conditions that are typical of the age group, such as arthritis, anxiety or insomnia, Tishler said.  

The next largest group consists of middle-aged patients suffering from early joint disease or,  more commonly, cancer. The smallest group are his younger patients, many of whom suffer from autism or other spectrum disorders, and some from longstanding anxiety and/or depression.

There are very few physicians involved in medical cannabis treatments as yet. We asked Tishler why that is so.

Cannabis Medicine Should Be A Specialty Field

While many physicians are open to the idea and interested in learning how cannabis can help their patients, they realize they don’t have enough knowledge. 

“The complexity of cannabinoid medicine is vast and our understanding is very new. Most physicians know that they don’t know much about it, and don’t have the time to delve deeply into such a large body of knowledge. This is why, like cardiology or endocrinology, this must be viewed as a specialty field of its own,” Tishler said.

While he thinks that educating physicians and other medical professionals on medical cannabis is important, he believes that they should consult with a cannabis specialist. "We don’t necessarily want to see more physicians prescribing medical cannabis. We need experts and continued research into the effectiveness of the medicine," Tishler explained. 

“It’s also important to understand that recreational legalization, as currently being contemplated by Congress, will undermine this entirely. No company will invest millions to do the research we need if they can simply go to market and say whatever they want without any proof,” Tishler lamented.

A Word On Psychedelics

Tishler finds the topic interesting. He recognized the promising research results that reveal psychedelics could be a possible treatment for various illnesses, from psychosis to alcoholism.

“In many ways, research on psychedelics is easier than on cannabis since LSD and MDMA are single molecules more aptly fit for FDA trials than cannabis which, as a plant, contains many chemicals that may be interacting,” Dr. Tishler concluded.

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Posted In: CannabisNewsMarketsInterviewAmericans For Safe AccessAssociation of Cannabis SpecialistsHarvard Medical SchoolinhaleMDJordan Tishler MDmedical cannabis
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