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Marijuana as a Medicine – Benefits, Hazards, and State Laws

by Trudy Seeger 2 years ago in health
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Marijuana as a Medicine – Benefits, Hazards, and State Laws

The general attitude to marijuana and suchlike drugs in the United States began to change perceptibly as early as the late 19th century with the rampant addition to morphine. While there is no specific mention of marijuana in the original guidelines of the Food and Drug Administration when it was established in 1906, its steady move to control addictive substances had the effect of reducing the use of marijuana to treat illnesses as well. The use of medical marijuana more or less disappeared with the Marijuana Tax Act in 1935 imposing very stiff taxes on both doctors prescribing weed, the retail trade and even those cultivating it.

Health Benefits Ascribed to Marijuana

It is possible to use medical marijuana in many forms; not only can it be smoked, but it can also be used as vapor or ingested as a pill or added to cookies, brownies or chocolate bars. It has proven to be exceptionally difficult for scientists in the U.S. to conduct research on the medical benefits of marijuana with the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration classifying it as a Schedule 1 drug, which means that there are no genuine therapeutic uses and there is a very high abuse-potential. However, according to many scientists there is solid science behind considering marijuana to have medical benefits as it is established that the plant contains over 60 chemical substances known as cannabinoids that have a variety of uses, including regulation of pain. Even the human body produces cannabinoids to moderate pain.

Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, as it more commonly referred to, is the prime active element in marijuana. THC has the capability of targeting not only the brain’s cannabinoid receptor but also that found in the human liver, kidney, nervous system, and lungs. The activation of the cannabinoid receptor soothes the response to toxic chemicals and pain. In a study conducted in 2007 and published in the Neurology journal, researchers found marijuana to be effective in the reduction of neuropathic pain or pain experienced by HIV patients due to damaged nerves. The findings are considered remarkable as opiates like morphine are not as effective in pain management. Another study found that when marijuana was used along with opiates it resulted in a dramatic and synergistic relief in pain. Researchers have also found marijuana to be effective in the treatment of ailments as diverse as multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, glaucoma, and schizophrenia, among others.

Risks of Medical Marijuana

It is not as if the medical use of marijuana is bereft of any risks. Since the THC bonds with the cannabinoid receptors in areas of the human brain that are related with thinking, coordination, pleasure, and perception of time, taking marijuana can affect the patient’s attention, balance, and judgment. There are conflicting opinions whether patients are exposed more to the risk of cancer with the use of marijuana. Since there are federal laws that prohibit the prescription of marijuana, these are usually termed as referrals or recommendations.

Availability of Medical Marijuana

States in America that have permitted the use of marijuana for medical treatment are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. In June 2014, New York legalized medical marijuana in the vaporized form. Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin have laws providing limited access to low THC / high CBD medical marijuana.

To purchase medical marijuana you require a doctor’s advice and need to present a proof of identity at the dispensary or a patient registry enrollment. IDs can usually be obtained only if the doctor issues a document stating the patient’s condition and that treatment with medical marijuana is recommended. Each state has its own regulations governing the conditions for which medical marijuana may be used.

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Trudy Seeger

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