Some Studies Show Medical Benefits For Pot
Marijuana May Be Able To Reduce Pain, Slow Disease
POSTED: 2:16 pm CDT September 23, 2009
Donna M. Houston, Contributing writer
A lot of people are turning to marijuana to ease their pain these days. Dispensaries in the states where they are legal report a 50 to 300 percent rise in requests for medical marijuana this year.
But is the promise of relief from chronic or intractable pain just a smoke screen put up by those looking for a legal way to get high? Is the science behind these claims real? For many people the answers to these questions are mixed.
Marijuana has been cited in both controlled and subjective studies as having a beneficial effect on many different types of pain. According to a report advanced by the Drug Policy Alliance Network, these purported benefits include treatments for post-operative pain, pain from spinal-cord injuries, peripheral pain, migraines and problems during chemotherapy.
The Mayo Clinic acknowledged in an online article called “Marijuana as Medicine: Consider the Pros and Cons that “several studies have found that cannabinoids have analgesic effects … and appear to enhance the effects of opiate pain medications to provide pain relief at lower dosages.”
Science Daily reported that researchers at the Imperial College London showed that pot could be used successfully in the treatment of acute pain without involving the brain, blocking pain signals without incurring the side-effects of typical marijuana intoxication.
No Smoke Alarms Here
There are reams of scientific data on the chemistry and pharmacology of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids. According to information posted Pubmed, roughly 15,000 articles have been written on Cannabis sativa L and cannabinoids, along with more than 2,000 papers on endocannabinoids.
As more researchers conclude that marijuana is effective in temporarily treating some disease symptoms, new trials are looking into whether this ancient herb can alter the course of disease. Scientists are particularly intrigued by recent studies concerning the drugs influence on autoimmune disorders as well as those that delve into the anti-cancer behaviors of cannabis.
In the book “Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids: A Review of the Scientific Literature,” Paul Armentano’s, the deputy director of NORML, summarized 150 of the most promising published preclinical and clinical studies.
When To Just Say No
In spite of the mounting evidence attesting to its palliative and curative properties, medicinal marijuana should not be viewed as a good-for-what-ails-you panacea. As with any drug therapy, there are certain risks — including possible legal problems in most places.
Some existing conditions might also preclude its use. Extra care should be taken before prescribing to young people, women who are pregnant or nursing, those with a history of mental illness, people with hepatitis C and those who have suffered heart disease or stroke.
Marijuana is considered an illegal recreational drug in all but 13 states. Only Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have laws on the books protecting patients, though they vary greatly by state. Maryland, while not specifically allowing its medicinal use does have a medical marijuana affirmative defense law.
When the smoke of controversy clears though, burning at the heart of this debate is not scientific data or legalese but real people searching for relief they can grab hold of. And for many, they believe medicinal marijuana that the answers lie in a puff of smoke