The Safety and Effectiveness of Marijuana for Chronic Pain [Interview][Transcript]

cindy_perlin_medical_marijuana_australiaGuest: Cindy Perlin, LCSW
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Cindy Perlin is a licensed clinical social worker, certified biofeedback practitioner, chronic pain survivor, past president of the Northeast Regional Biofeedback Society and the author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free. She has been in private practice in the Albany, NY area for about 25 years. Her website is

Segment overview: In this segment, Cindy Perlin, LCSW, discusses the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana as it is used for chronic pain.

Health Professional Radio – Marijuana for Chronic Pain

NealHoward:   Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you for joining us today. Our guest is Cindy Perlin, licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Biofeedback Practitioner, Chronic Pain Survivor, past President of the Northeast Regional Biofeedback Society and author of “The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free.” And she is returning with us to talk about the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana as it’s used for Chronic Pain. Welcome back Cindy.

Cindy Perlin:   Thank you.

N:   Thank you so much and I understand that you’ve involved in an Amazon book campaign as well.

C:   Yes. My book did get to number 2 and 3 in these categories on Amazon so I did  reach best seller status.

N:   Absolutely wonderful and congratulations on that. This past election not only did we hear in the United States elect our new President but many states, I think maybe 5 or 6 States were considering whether they were going to legalize or not medical marijuana as it’s used medically and recreationally. Let’s talk about why do you think that some states maybe balk legalizing marijuana at all while others opt to medical and or recreational use?

C:   Well I think some states are just more conservative than others or positively have more Pharmaceuticals Company influence on legislation. But what most people don’t realize is that Marijuana has been used medicinally for thousands of years. And in the United States, it was part of the US Pharmacopeia which is the list of drugs that are widely accepted. And it was in the US Pharmacopeia until 1941, at which point an anti-drug crusader managed to get it banned.

N:   So at one point it was okay to used it in the United States, but 1941 that changed and it became I guess part of the contraband list?

C:   Right, it was. I don’t know how to drugs … back then but basically it was considered dangerous drug with no medicinal uses, and terms to US Federal law it’s still in that category.

N:   So if it was used as a medicine prior to 1941, was it used as a medicine for chronic pain?

C:   Yes, it had many accepted uses and one of  them is chronic pain. And there are documents going back thousands of years in China for instance, mentioning the use of marijuana for various ailments.

N:   So in traditional Chinese medicine, there is a place for marijuana?

C:   Right, so … a medicine all over the world.

N:   Now when I guess for lack of a better term, the attack on previously accepted medical use of marijuana – was the attack more from the safety aspect or the effectiveness of marijuana as used for medical use, chronic pain specifically?

C:   Well it was merely based on then it was a dangerous drug and a gateway drug which has been disproven. But they didn’t talk about whether it was effective, they talked about it being a dangerous drug from an addiction standpoint.

N:   Now you’re a Chronic Pains survivor and President of the Northeast Regional Biofeedback Society and also the author of the book about Chronic Pain that’s doing extremely well on Amazon. In your experience and in your work, have you found that more people, not necessarily using marijuana and or admitting that they use marijuana, but asking more questions in consideration of using marijuana? And on that same question, what do you find when you talk to traditional or Western Health Care Practitioners about marijuana?

C:   Well I think the general population and the people who are suffering with chronic pain are definitely more interested in using it. I really haven’t done a lot of discussions with Medical Providers, but the reality is that Opioids use has become really wide spread in the United States and it’s been a disaster. Not only had many people become addicted, but many people have died. The thing about marijuana is it’s not physically addictive and there’s no lethal dose.  In terms of Opioids less than 50% of the people who are prescribed Opioids actually continue with them in a sense that they find them effective. Often they quit because the side effects are so intolerable and they don’t work. Patients are if given a choice of which one they can have. I have a blog that’s now been viewed by over 230 thousand people which discusses the relative merit of marijuana and Opioids and the comments on that blog are very much in favor of marijuana for the people who tried it for pain.

N:   Have you talked to people both Opioid users past and present and marijuana users past and present as far as the effectiveness of marijuana? As you mentioned sometimes Opioids lose their effectiveness overtime. Have you found the same in marijuana? Do you have to use more marijuana like you do more Opioids?

C:   No. Marijuana users don’t develop tolerance where they need more and more over time. And the other thing is that marijuana helps people to not develop tolerance if they’re taking Opioids in conjunction with it. So it actually keeps people from becoming tolerant and potentially addicted to Opioids. States that have legalized medical marijuana have an average decrease of Opioids death by 25%. And the longest the legislation is in effect in the State, the more reduction in overdose deaths they have.

N:   Now all those States that do legalized marijuana for let’s just say medical purposes, when they finally do accept it for medical use what about the cause effectiveness of it as far as your insurance is concerned?

C:   Well there is no Insurance that covers medical marijuana in the United States. And I don’t believe that in terms of other countries that have accepted it, I don’t believe other countries cover it under their Insurance. So people are on their own when it comes to that which is a huge barrier and come close to hundreds of dollars a month, up to even a thousand dollars a month depending on the dose that you need. So that’s a huge barrier, most people with chronic illness do not have a lot of financial resources.  

N:   Absolutely. So when we’re saying these dispensaries and different locales here in the United States just to speak of the United States, none of these dispensaries are accepting any Insurance payment because they just simply don’t exist. Do the practitioners prescribe the products from these dispensaries and then send their patients to these dispensaries as if they are the Pharmacist?

C:   Yes. When there is medical marijuana, it has to be prescribe by a doctor. In some stage like New York make that very difficult. In New the York State, doctors have to apply and take a test, take a course to become certified as prescribers and then there’s no list a patients can access of physicians who have done that. Once you’ve find that Physician and get a prescription, you can go to a dispensary and get your marijuana if you can afford it. Right now Insurance companies are saying that they won’t cover it because it’s still illegal under federal law but I think in reality Insurance Companies find lots of excuses not to pay for alternative treatments for pain or anything else.

N:   Well when you talking about lots of excuses, I mean there are a lot of excuses in each of every of the billion dollars that they are making. There’s a billion excuses right there.

C:   Medical marijuana, because it doesn’t have the negative of effects of Opioids, it’s going to end up being cheaper when the Insurance does paying if they ever do because they don’t have to pay for addiction treatment for instance.

N:   Tell our listeners where they can go and get some information about the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana and your book as well “The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free.”

C:   Well I have a website for my book and you can find out more about it there. Or just go Amazon, there’s a lot information about the on Amazon. The book has a whole chapter on marijuana and for people who can access that there are many, many other treatments that work for chronic pain, all of them are covered on my book. You can also go to my Facebook page, and I have an updates pretty much every day on what’s happening in the pain treatment world.

N:   Always a pleasure Cindy, thanks for returning.

C:   You’re welcome, thank you for having me back.

N:   You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. In studio with Cindy Perlin, licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Biofeedback Practitioner, Chronic Pain Survivor, and the author of the bestselling book  “The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free.” Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and also at and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

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