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Report: Arizona’s medical marijuana program receives above average grade

PHOENIX — Arizona’s medical marijuana program ranked above average compared to the rest of the country, according to a new report from Americans for Safe Access.

Arizona received a B-minus on the organization’s annual state report card. The Grand Canyon State scored high in every major category, except product safety.

Dr. Stephen Barrett, surgeon at Phoenix-based Innovative Neuropathy Treatment Institute, said he does not believe the medical marijuana products are harmful, although he did admit “a lot” of them fell in the testing requirement and product labeling categories.

While “product safety” might not be the correct term to use in Barrett’s opinion, he said there is a need to improve the state’s medical marijuana system as a whole.

“We need to look at medical marijuana just as we would look at any other pharmaceutical,” he said. “In order to conduct meaningful research, we need to really have meaningful dosages and meaningful frequencies of administration.”

Barrett also noted the extra hurdles that some chronic pain patients in Arizona face extra if they want to switch from using opioids to medical marijuana.

“For some reason, in Arizona the standard of care in pain management is that if somebody is using medical marijuana, we can’t give them anymore (pain) medications and that is really kind of sad,” he said.

Barrett said one of the largest benefits of medical marijuana is that it is not toxic like Vicodin or morphine.

However, he said it would be nearly impossible for a patient to switch to medical marijuana without some overlap of the drugs.

“If you are able to taper (patients) down with medical marijuana and they want to be tapered down, that should be something that should be encouraged rather than what the situation really is right now,” he said.

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