Marijuana Medicine can help with many ailments. With the recent death of Heath Ledger due to prescription drugs| more and more patients looking at the prescription drugs and cannot help but be curious as to what their future holds. Doctors are so swift to write prescriptions for anti-depressants, painkillers, sleeping pills and tranquilizers. Most medical cannabis patients feel that they cannot function on the medications that they have been prescribed for pain, insomnia, depression, etc. and find that they function very well on medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana use, under a doctors supervision, is legal in fourteen states with actual laws varying by state. These states are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, N.J. and Washington. Each state does have its own set of rules and it would be advisable to check them frequently as laws are subject to change at any time. It is important to note that in May 2001 the Supreme Court ruled that federal laws make no exception for distributing or growing marijuana by a third party. Simplified, it means users need to grow their own marijuana for medical use as it is illegal for it to be grown by someone else.
The effects of marijuana on the brain are due to the active ingredient, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. THC acts on cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells and influences the activity of those cells. Cannabinoid receptors are found in many parts of the brain that can influence memory, pleasure, thought, concentration and coordination.
Both anecdotal and scientific research evidence suggests that marijuana provides relief to chronic pain sufferers with a variety of ailments ranging from back pain, migraines, glaucoma, cancer and many more. Research by Vinciqeurra et al. found that 78% of patients tested who were resistant to regular drugs for nausea became symptom free with inhaled cannabis use. There are more than 17,000 papers published that deal with scientific clinical research of the therapeutic value of cannabinoids.
One of the most widely known medical uses for marijuana is in treatment for the side effects of chemotherapy. It is used for the reduction of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. Another well known use is in the treatment of glaucoma. Many standard treatments have very adverse effects and little positive effect on end stage glaucoma. The use of cannabis lowers the intraocular pressure allowing patients to retain their sight and avoid the painful deterioration that leads to blindness.
Medical marijuana is being tested in its use for Multiple Sclerosis patients. At this time there is no known effective regular medical cure available. Cannabis has been found to have a significant effect on MS symptoms. Cannabis use has been found to reduce tremors, restore balance, stop muscle spasms and restore sight, speech and bladder control. Cannabis may even retard the progression of MS, according to the publication, Marijuana – The Forbidden Medicine.
Medical marijuana is also used for the treatment of other forms of pain. One subject suffered a major back injury and consequent surgery. The subject was offered opiate types of pain medication but found the simple use of marijuana was equally effective on the pain without the side effects of an opiate drug. Unfortunately this subject does not reside in a state that allows for the use of medical marijuana and will therefore not be quoted.
The short-term undesirable effects of marijuana include distorted perception, loss of coordination, difficulties with learning, problem solving and memory, and an increase in heart rate with a decrease in blood pressure. Some users may also experience fear, distrust or a feeling of panic. Most of the negative effects of tobacco smoking are also found in the smoking of marijuana. There is a possibility that frequent or prolonged use of marijuana may lead to significant impairment of the immune system and further studies should be part of any research, especially if marijuana is to be used by patients with compromised immune systems. Use of medical marijuana for reducing intraocular pressure in glaucoma can also cause an unwanted drop in blood pressure. The heart rate of the user can increase by 20 or more beats per minute and can cause an increased risk of heart attack.
Many studies and clinical trials are now ongoing, mostly in countries more in favor of the use and further research is needed to fully weigh the pros and cons of medical marijuana use.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
U.S. National Institutes of Health