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Nova Southeastern University Offers Expert Opinions on the Use of Medical Marijuana

Released: 2/11/2014 4:05 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Nova Southeastern University
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With the recent Florida Supreme Court ruling allowing medical marijuana to be placed on the ballot in the November mid-term election, you surely will be covering stories on this hot topic. Nova Southeastern University would like to offer the following experts in medicine and psychiatry, optometry, and pharmacy and law, who can provide opinions and information on the use of marijuana to treat health conditions. Please contact me and I can help arrange interviews based on your schedule.


MEDICINE AND PSYCHIATRY
Raymond L. Ownby, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A.
Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine

Expert opinion: Ample evidence exists to show that there may be legitimate medical uses for marijuana. Unfortunately, federal regulations on marijuana dating to the Nixon administration have made it nearly impossible to research these possible uses. This means that decisions have to be made on the basis on limited data and anecdotal reports, often reflecting prejudice, fears and stereotypes rather than sound scientific data. A major policy change is needed at the federal level so that researchers can actually explore potential uses for marijuana in a number of conditions, including for pain and neurological conditions. In the meantime, decisions about medical marijuana are primarily political rather than scientific.

Bio: Ownby is professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine where he is also a professor in the public health and biomedical informatics programs. He completed his undergraduate education at Ohio University where he was elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa, and completed his medical education at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine where he was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha. Ownby completed his residency training in psychiatry at the University of Miami, during which he received recognition from the National Institutes of Health as an Outstanding Psychiatry Resident and the American Psychiatric Association’s Resident Research Award. While at the University of Miami, he also completed the M.B.A. program with an emphasis in healthcare administration and policy. He has been selected for inclusion in “Best Doctors in America” and is board certified in adult psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, clinical neuropsychology, and neuropsychiatry. He has published more than 100 research articles and has been the recipient of several research grants from the National Institutes of Health. He is board certified in behavioral sleep medicine and a founding member of the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine.


OPTOMETRY
Joseph Sowka, O.D., FAAO, diplomate
Professor of Optometry and Chief of the Advanced Care Center
Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry

Expert opinion: Would not prescribe medical marijuana because he believes there are alternate, more effective medications available.

Bio: Sowka is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a diplomate in glaucoma. He has held numerous chair positions within the American Academy of Optometry. Currently, Sowka is professor of optometry at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry where he serves as chief of the Advanced Care Center and director of the glaucoma service. He also serves as chair for the Department of Optometric Clinical Sciences. His clinical responsibilities are devoted exclusively to the diagnosis and care of patients with glaucoma.
Sowka developed and has taught the course in glaucoma and posterior segment disease for nearly 20 years. He has authored numerous refereed journal publications and textbook chapters. Sowka serves on the editorial review board for Review of Optometry and is a contributing editor for that journal. He is also on the editorial review board for Optometry- The Journal of the American Optometric Association. Sowka is a founding member of the Optometric Glaucoma Society (OGS) and the Optometric Retina Society (ORS) and an executive board member for both societies. He is also on the Glaucoma Advisory Board for Alcon laboratories. Sowka is a member of the professional speakers bureau for numerous companies and has lectured extensively nationally and internationally.

Sowka received his bachelor of science degree from Cornell University, graduating with distinction in 1985 and his doctor of optometry degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1989 (PCO). He completed a residency in primary care at PCO in 1990.


PHARMACY AND LAW
Matthew J. Seamon, J.D., Pharm.D.
Chair and Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice
Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy

Expert opinion: Medical marijuana is used primarily as a false pretext towards the ultimate legalization of marijuana as a recreational drug. Due to the bureaucracy of the system, there is really sparse data on the actual use/effectiveness of marijuana for medicinal purposes and the medical establishment as a whole is trained to view it aversely. His gut feeling is it has great utility in practice and should be available, but there are risks and concerns that should be addressed.

Bio: Seamon is currently chair and associate professor of pharmacy practice at the NSU College of Pharmacy where he focuses on pharmacy law. He also serves as counsel to the law firm Fuerst Ittleman David & Joseph in the area food and drug law. Seamon earned his doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of Michigan and completed a Drug Information Specialized Residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. He then returned to school, earning his law degree from NSU while working full-time on Faculty. In addition to his work in academia, Seamon has practiced in clinical research, hospital pharmacy, community pharmacy, and in the pharmaceutical industry. He has published a number of papers on various pharmaco-legal topics, including medical marijuana and has a primary research interest in healthcare policy and FDA regulation. Seamon is both a licensed attorney and a licensed pharmacist.

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