March 2016 Issue

Editor's Spot: Medical Cannabis Controversy
By Judy Riddle
Today's Dietitian
Vol. 18 No. 3 P. 4

Last October I attended a thought-provoking session on medical cannabis at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo®. The large auditorium in which the session was held was jam-packed with hundreds of dietitians eager to learn about the legalization of cannabis, which states have legalized it for medicinal and recreational use, and the available research on cannabis' beneficial role in reducing pain, muscle wasting, and seizures; stimulating appetite; and alleviating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Because more and more states have and are legalizing cannabis for medicinal and recreational use (although it's still an illegal Schedule I drug under federal law), dietitians need to know how to counsel clients and patients who may be suffering from the side effects of cancer treatment, Crohn's disease, arthritis, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and other chronic illnesses they deal with every day in practice. In many states, medical cannabis has been approved for use for these diseases and others.

Of special interest to RDs is the fact that many patients have chosen not to smoke cannabis to avoid the harmful effects associated with smoking but are eating foods and drinking beverages, referred to as "edibles," that contain it. So dietitians must know what the benefits and risks are surrounding this practice and how to best counsel clients. RDs don't have to advocate or promote medical cannabis use, but they should at least be well informed about the legalities concerning its medicinal and recreational use to accurately answer clients' questions.

To learn more about the legalization of cannabis and strategies to counsel clients, turn to "Medical and Recreational Marijuana Use," on page 44.

In celebration of National Nutrition Month® and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, Today's Dietitian is publishing our seventh annual "TD10" feature, which includes profiles of the top 10 dietitians you helped nominate for their tireless work in the field. The winners include successful entrepreneurs, accomplished authors, and leaders in the nutrition profession who are making a great impact. Enjoy reading their stories and the other articles on how supermarket RDs across the country are celebrating National Nutrition Month®, the health benefits of nuts and seeds, and the nutritional needs of endurance runners.

Please enjoy the issue!

Judith Riddle