Thirteen states currently allow the use of marijuana for medicinal use, including Rhode Island, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, Washington, Vermont, Michigan, New Mexico and Maine. Other states have pending legislation or have passed legislation to relax bans against its use. These states and numerous physicians have begun to recognize the real benefits of marijuana as a natural medication that is effective for a number of serious health conditions.
Cancer patients undergoing conventional chemotherapy treatment are also required to take a number of secondary drugs to try to control their pain and nausea. Marijuana can naturally address these issues as is attested to by a cancer patient and former police commissioner. In addition to relieving his nausea, Jo Daly said he was “able to drastically reduce my dependence on more powerful prescription drugs that I was prescribed for pain and nausea. With the help of medical marijuana, which I ingest only occasionally and in small amounts, I no longer need the Compazine, Lorazepam, Ativan and Halcion. No combination of these medications provided adequate relief. They also caused serious side effects that I never experienced with marijuana” (1997). He was able to take significantly less drugs with significantly fewer side effects by using natural marijuana rather than any combination of chemical drugs.
Many doctors recognize the benefits of marijuana in treating patients with arthritis. “The spinal cord is loaded with cannabinoid receptors. These cannabinoid compounds [from marijuana] apparently reduce swelling from inflammation [a major symptom of arthritis]. But more than that, they kill the pain from inflammation specifically. They work on the peripheral nerves that carry pain from your joint into the spinal cord” (Walker, 2000).
Those who suffer from bowel disease face sometimes life-threatening flare-ups with very few clinical options. There are only a limited number of traditional medications available for these conditions and these are frequently ineffective in fully managing the symptoms. However, “beneficial effects [of marijuana use] were reported for appetite, pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, activity and depression. Patients also reported that cannabis use resulted in weight gain, fewer stools per day and fewer flare-ups of less severity” (Hergenrather, 2005). Weight gain is an important consideration for these patients as their condition causes malnutrition and low weight.
A study conducted by the Department of Neural Plasticity at the Cajal Institute in Spain (Ceballos, 2005) found “cannabinoid receptors are important in the pathology of AD [Alzheimer’s disease] and that cannabinoids succeed in preventing the neurodegenerative process occurring in the disease.”
The benefits of marijuana to AIDS and HIV patients have been recognized by Dr. Kate Scannell of Kaiser-Permanente Northern California Ethics Department (2003): “From working with AIDS and cancer patients, I repeatedly saw how marijuana could ameliorate a patient’s debilitating fatigue, restore appetite, diminish pain, remedy nausea, cure vomiting and curtail down-to-the-bone weight loss.” These are the properties that make marijuana more effective for the treatment of so many ailments without the need for further medication to counter side effects.
Marijuana use can reduce or even eliminate the need for more harmful drugs in a number of conditions that share some of these symptoms including:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
Ceballos, Maria L. de et al. “Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology by Cannabinoids: Neuroprotection Mediated by Blockage of Microglial Activation.” Journal of Neuroscience. (February 23, 2005).
Daly, Jo. Conant v. McCaffrey. (February 14, 1997). December 2, 2009
Hergenrather, Jeff. “Cannabis Alleviates Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease.” O’Shaughnessy’s. (Autumn, 2005).
Scannell, Kate. “Mr. Attorney General, Listen to the Doctors.” San Francisco Chronicle. (February 16, 2003).
Schweitzer, Sarah. “R.I. may allow medical marijuana” The Boston Globe.
(June 28, 2005)
Walker, J. Michael. “Marijuana as Medicine.” Arthritis Today. (December 2000).