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Spencertown hosts talk on medical cannabis



GHENT–Kenneth Weinberg, a founder of Cannabis Doctors of New York, speaks at the Spencertown Academy Arts Center, Sunday, June 9 at 2 p.m., on the subject of “Medical Cannabis: Weeding Out Fact From Fiction.” The free event is part of the academy’s Conversations with Neighbors program. While admission is free, advance reservations are requested via
Dr. Weinberg, an Old Chatham resident, is a three-time Board-certified emergency medicine and medical marijuana physician. Dr. Weinberg has practiced at Bellevue, Manhattan VA and NYU Langone hospitals in New York City and at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson. He also writes a blog, Bedside Manners for Psychology Today.

When New York State passed the Compassionate Care Act in 2016, Dr. Weinberg, with two colleagues, founded Cannabis Doctors of New York that same year. The practice operates in New York City and Columbia County. Dr. Weinberg practices in Columbia County, where he makes house calls or uses telemedicine to interact with patients.

Dr. Weinberg explained the dynamics of cannabinoids (CBD). “We have evolved genetically with the plant. Any mammal with a nervous system has an endocannabinoid system. CBD are chemicals found in mammals that are similar to chemicals found in cannabis plants.”

He explained further. The interaction of CBD and the brain is “like a lock and key system. CBD equals the key and receptors in the brain equal the lock. When the two interact and fit impulses is transmitted to the brain and throughout the body.” He added that cannabis is very helpful to people with seizures whose brains receive erratic messages. “CBD acts as a brake allowing the brain to reset, which he likened to “rebooting a computer.”

Dr. Weinberg explained the difference between medical and recreational cannabis. Medical marijuana has “precise amounts and consistent ratios of CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).” They can be “equal,” or one can be “higher or lower” than the other. Recreational marijuana does not have CBD “because it does not get you high.” He added that both medical and recreational are similar because “you use it to feel good.”

Dr. Weinberg praised the state’s law requiring dispensaries to partner with pharmacists to do follow-ups with medical marijuana consumers. He noted that medical marijuana conflicts with blood thinner medications. “Patients on blood thinners can use medical marijuana but need to be very careful.”

Dr. Weinberg touted medical marijuana as a good alternative to medications prescribed for cognitive decline, which are “not that effective.” Medical marijuana is “very good at preventing neural inflammation.” Yet “only 10% of medical schools teach about the cannabinoid system.”

He added that 6-8 million people have dementia and that 80% of that population has Alzheimer’s. He also noted, “Parkinson’s Disease is a cause of dementia” and that “high cholesterol diets” can lead to cognitive decline.”

Dr. Weinberg identified other maladies that respond well to medical marijuana, “arthritis, chronic pain syndrome, neuropathy, supplement to cancer treatments (nausea) and to stimulate sex drive.”

When asked about the different ways to consume medical marijuana Dr. Weinberg said that vaping brings “immediate relief” but for a shorter period of time compared to edibles, which are “good for up to 8 hours.” He added, “Ideally you want the whole plant (flowers or buds). Once processed you lose some of the chemicals.”

Dr. Weinberg said that the “recorded history” of cannabis goes back 5,000 years when a Chinese pharmacopeia (official publication of medicinal drugs) listed it. He added that the US pharmacopeia also listed cannabis from 1850 to 1937. He blamed a collusion of the Hearst and DuPont companies (the latter backed by Mellon Bank) to monopolize the newspaper and textile industries by waging a vigorous, relentless and “demonizing” campaign against hemp.

The War on Drugs, initiated by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a division of the US Treasury, lasted for decades and included a renaming of cannabis to marijuana and listing it as a Section 1 drug meaning it “had no medical benefit and was addictive.” (Two months ago President Joe Biden ordered a reclassification of cannabis as a Section 3 drug.)

Dr. Weinberg laments that the War on Drugs stigmatized cannabis saying, “many of my patients, especially the elderly” turn to medical marijuana as a “last resort” but are “willing to try it but don’t want to get high.”

Dr. Weinburg also faulted the Section 1 drug classification of cannabis for stunting research in the field. He cited a 2022 pediatric research paper, released by UCLA, on medical marijuana for autistic children and those with Asperger Syndrome using saliva benchmarks.

He said that saliva samples were collected and saliva biomarkers were recorded. Then trial participants were given medical marijuana. Ninety minutes later saliva samples were again collected and biomarkers recorded. Results showed the biomarkers shifted to acceptable ranges and that the trial participants were “more interactive, verbal and less aggressive.”

As an ER doctor, Dr. Weinberg said he did not interact much with his patients. But he described the past nine years of his work as “very gratifying and (a) wonderful experience. As a physician I believe my role is educating (people.)” At age 76 he says, “I can see myself doing this for quite a while.”

While admission is free to the June 9 talk by Dr. Weinberg, advance reservations are requested via

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