There are few subjects that can evoke mixed emotions among doctors, scientists, researchers, policy makers, and the public than medical marijuana. Should it be legalized? Has its effectiveness been proven? What conditions is it useful for? How can they keep it out of the hands of teenagers? Is it really the “omnipotent drug” that people claim it is? Is medical marijuana just a leverage to legalize marijuana in general?

Marijuana is currently legal, on the state level, in 29 states, and in Washington, DC, in the United States of America. It is still illegal from the Donald Trump’s perspective. The Obama administration did not even try to make prosecution of medical marijuana a minor priority. President Donald Trump promised not to meddle in the affairs of people using medical marijuana, though his administration is currently threatening to reverse this policy. About 85% of Americans support the use of medical marijuana, and it is estimated that several million Americans currently use it.

Marijuana without the ‘high’

Least controversial is the extract from the hemp plant referred as CBD (cannabidiol) because this compound of marijuana has little intoxicating properties. Marijuana in its full form has more than 100 active compounds. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the chemical that causes the intoxication that goes hand-in-hand with marijuana use. CBD-dominant strains have mild or no THC, so patients report rarely if they feel any change in consciousness.

However, patients report many boons of CBD, from relieving insomnia, spasticity, anxiety, distress and pain to treating life-threatening conditions, for example epilepsy. A particular form of childhood epilepsy called Dravet syndrome is almost difficult to control, but responds significantly to a CBD-dominant strain of marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web.

Uses of medical marijuana

The most common use for medical marijuana in the U.S is for pain control. Surprisingly, marijuana is not strong enough for severe pain (for instance, post-surgical pain or a broken bone), but it is quite effective for the chronic pain that affect millions of Americans, especially gerontic patients. A portion of its attraction is that it is undoubtedly safer than opiates and it can take the place of NSAIDs such as Advil, if people can’t use them because of problems with their kidneys or ulcers.

In particular, marijuana appears to reduce the pain of multiple sclerosis, and nerve pain. This is an area where few other options belong, and those that do, such as Neurontin, Lyrica, or opiates are highly sedating. Patients report that marijuana allows them to resume their previous activities without a feeling of disengagement.

Furthermore, Marijuana is known to be a fantastic muscle relaxant, and people testify of its ability to subdue tremors in Parkinson’s disease. Recently, its use was quite successfully for fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis and other conditions where the final common pathway is chronic pain.

Marijuana is also used to control nausea, motion sickness and weight loss; it can be used to treat glaucoma. Medical marijuana was also reported to have helped patients suffering from pain and wasting syndrome related to HIV, in addition to irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

Recently, Marijuana consumption was passed into bill in South Africa, limited only to indoor and relaxation purposes.


This article was written by Alex Ndace; he tweets via @AlexNdace

Culled from Issue 21


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