Reasons for use and inspiring stories
Sitting in the Westcoast Medicann Society office, I often gaze at the wall in our waiting area.
On it, there are many words. You can see the green lettering from the street, and it attracts passerbys to take a rest and read.
It is a list of reasons why one may use medicinal marijuana.
ADHD AIDS/HIV Anxiety Stress Disorder Appetite Loss Anorexia/Eating Disorders Asthma Arthritis Brain/Head Injury Cancer/Leukemia/Radiation and Chemotherapy Treatment Cerebral Palsy Colitis Crohn’s Disease/Irritable Bowel Syndrome Chronic Migraines/Chronic Pain Depression Diabetes Dystonia Nausea Psoriasis Emphysema Epilepsy/Seizure Disorders Eczema Fibromyalgia Glaucoma Paraplegia Quadriplegia Hepatitis C Hypertension Mental Illness Multiple Sclerosis Sleep Disorders Spinal Cord Injury Substance Abuse/Substance Withdrawal Muscular Dystrophy/Movement Disorders Nail Patella Syndrome High Blood Pressure Parkinson’s Disease Tourette’s Syndrome Ulcerative Depression
Some of the words may be surprising: can asthma or emphysema really be treated by smoking cannabis? If marijuana is a substance, how does it help with addiction issues or withdrawal? What are it’s effects when taken for glaucoma?
Marijuana contains THC which is a cannabinoid found in the plant. THC causes psychoactive effects or the feeling of being ‘high’. It also holds much of the medicinal properties people look for when choosing marijuana as a medicine.
Humans can produce their own high through the natural release of various chemicals binding to receptors found throughout the body. The cannabinoids in marijuana bind to endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and produce varying effects, most notably the increase of appetite, reduction of pain, anxiety and depression. These are considered therapeutic benefits as they improve general well-being.
After cannabis treatment, I’ve seen folk smile with ease after months (or even years) of despair. I am a firm believer in the debilitating effects of stress, and the inner turmoil we put ourselves through simply with our thoughts. The relief one can find when the brain reacts to the cannabinoids in medicinal marijuana is worth the effort of obtaining a prescription or federal licence.
On top of just having a better day, research also shows that cannabinoids abate the development of certain cancers. Studies conducted in 1974, at the Medical College of Virginia, reported that THC “slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent”.
And a preclinical trial in the mid-1990s, conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, concluded that “mice and rats administered high doses of THC over long periods had greater protection against malignant tumors than untreated controls”.
Pharmaceutical companies are patenting ways to dispense the anti-nausea, anti-pain, and anti-cancerous effects of THC, and have been selling prescriptions such as Savitex and Marinol for some time. However, there are those who regard these to be sub-par alternatives to the actual plant, arguing that smoking herbal marijuana provides faster acting, and easier to regulate medication.
What about those with lung issues? Asthma, emphysema, lung cancer…
We know that smoking manufactured tobacco has a real negative effect on the lung tissue and cells: there are strong warnings about the dangers of inhaled carcinogens in mass-produced cigarettes on the boxes themselves. However, in studies around the effects of marijuana smoke and the deterioration of lung cells, there are other results.
The first difference between a tobacco smoker and a marijuana smoker is the frequency of the habit. Tobacco smokers generally smoke considerably more cigarettes per day than those who puff pot. Simply the amount of smoke entering the lungs adds up.
The second variance between inhalation of tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke might be surprising: “Short-term exposure to marijuana is associated with bronchodilation [opening of the air passages].” This is a breath of fresh air! The key is not to over-do it. When any part of the body is damaged or sensitive, it’s just common sense to quit poking at it, and tend to it with care and concern.
Another benefit to using cannabis as a medicine is that the plant itself is so versatile. In addition to smoking, cannabis buds can be vaporized (heated and inhaled as a mist without any smoke actually entering the lungs), cooked and blended with food to be eaten, condensed into oils or ingested as *juice (from the leaves). *it tastes terrible, but there are miracles stories associated with the juicing of marijuana leaves and the shrinking of tumours.
Cannabis is also not considered to be addictive. So many pain medications on the market are highly habit-forming. Vicodin™ and OxyContin™ are two famous products often prescribed for chronic pain and usually leave patients on the hook financially and physically dependent. The withdrawal from these medications can be worse the pain they were meant to treat in the first place.
Unlike these synthetic drugs, medicinal cannabis has very few withdrawal symptoms and most people can quit rather easily if necessary. It is the uplifting results that keep patients using marijuana, rather than the fear of suffering through withdrawal. Because of this, cannabis can be used as a detox substitute.
Glaucoma is an affliction that has been soothed by cannabis for hundreds if not thousands of years. Marijuana can lower intraocular pressure to treat the symptoms of glaucoma effectively when smoked, inhaled, ingested or administered intravenously – but not when applied directly on the eyes.
But skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis can be relieved with direct application of medicinal marijuana! Westcoast Medicann Society offers several types of creams and balms that are wildly popular.
Physical ailments and the promise of a better day are not the only attractions for medicinal marijuana users. They (and I mean researchers) figure that cannabis might have positive effects for patients with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. More than one study has shown marijuana use is actually associated with an improvement in neurocognitive functioning. They still don’t understand why cannabis, or the psychoactive effects of THC have this effect on patients with major psychiatric disorders, but here’s what happened:
Over nine years, data from patients at a Long Island hospital was collected. All of the patients used had experienced a true manic episode, branding them DSM-IV candidates, or patients with bipolar I. Fifty individuals with a history of cannabis “abuse or dependence” and 150 individuals without this history participated in standardized tests designed to measure cognitive functioning. Demographics, age of onset and duration of illness, and estimated IQ were controlled as best as possible by the researchers before the tests were conducted.
There was a general pattern of better cognitive functioning in the group with a history of cannabis use! These patients performed better on measures such as processing speed, attention, and working memory, than their non-using counterparts.
The scientists concluded the “patients with bipolar disorder demonstrated significantly higher neurocognitive performance when they also had a history of cannabis dependence. With these results added to what we know about schizophrenia, it is possible that the correlation is causal — that marijuana use improves the cognitive functioning of patients with severe psychiatric disorders.”
I’ve seen for myself incredible transformations of patients. Westcoast Medicann Society is situated fairly close to the BC Cancer Agency. Sometimes a patient walks in at the beginning of their treatment, knowing by personal experience or through their doctor that cannabis will help their symptoms while they undergo harsh therapies. These patients are generally already in good spirits, looking forward to the effects of medicinal marijuana while they start their battle.
But it’s the patients who have been brought up with the notion that cannabis is a bad drug, and not to be used for any purpose, especially to feel good, that change the most. Hesitation, reservations, scrutiny, and shame melt swiftly. Those who couldn’t see the light are soon beaming. They are well rested, eating better (and keeping nutrients in), cracking jokes and laughing at the humanity of it all. Even if the illness is terminal, there is a newfound joy in life that before seemed lost.
There are several stories online describing this very metamorphasis, and of inspiring individuals who are spreading the positive experience of medicinal marijuana.
Just type in Google How Medicinal Marijuana Changed My Life. You won’t have to search for long.
From CBC News, “A Charlottetown woman who’s licensed to use medical marijuana wants to start a support group for others using the medicinal herb. Kat Murphy received permission from Health Canada seven years ago to possess marijuana for pain relief from Crohn’s disease, a condition that affects the digestive system. “I don’t take any prescription drugs for Crohn’s now. I don’t take steroids. I control it through diet and herbs that are anti-inflammatories,” said Murphy. Now she said she’s helping others see the benefits of medical marijuana.”
From rxmarijuana.com, a 58 year old, married father of two college grads had his second grand mal seizure in 2006, discovery and resection of his Glioblastoma Multiforme brain tumor, and a prognosis for a median life expectancy of 16 months. He developed a medical use [of marijuana], and at times is “grateful for my brain tumor, without which I wouldn’t be enjoying my daily ritual of getting high.” Although a brain tumor survivor, he is disabled, but has created “a comfortable life for myself and family.” He uses cannabis to “get back to normal“. It makes him feel “right“. “I’ve mentioned to some of my older golfing friends that it’s the closest thing there is to the Fountain of Youth. It really does make me feel younger and stronger, and I use it when I have a task to perform, or just want to get a good stretching session in. I truly pity those people that have been victimized by the fear mongering “drug war” rhetoric. They are missing out on something the planet provides for our brains. I now consider cannabis, with it’s chemical parallel also being produced by the human brain, a healthy choice.”
From Westcoast Medicann Society, “I am currently suffering with cervical cancer,” one woman wrote, “The product provided has helped a great deal with all my symptoms: nausea, anxiety, sleep deprivation, depression and pain. I would recommend this service to anyone suffering.”
From Westcoast Medicann Society, a patient suffering from anxiety wrote, “I feel increasingly able to function with enthusiasm and courage, rather than depression and paranoid symptoms.”
From Westcoast Medicann Society, “I am currently suffering from Crohn’s Disease and Pouchitis,” one man said, “As a medication, pot has helped me maintain appetite in periods of flare-ups. Without, my guts go into uncomfortable cramping and I feel nauseous. With the ileoanal pouch, pot helps me sleep. Because of my surgeries, I now use the washroom 8 – 10 times a day, including 2 – 3 times a night. Pot allows me to function.”
I encourage curious minds to read what others have experienced with medicinal marijuana in relation to their illnesses and the inevitable improvement of the quality of their life. Cannabis doesn’t need to be taboo anymore – it’s an effective, therapeutic and life changing medication. Westcoast Medicann Society upholds all the standards of obtaining your medicine lawfully and compassionately – it’s well worth the time to look into.
And… look forward to next week’s article breaking down the different strains of cannabis and what types of illnesses they target.
Abrams, Lindsay. “Study: Pot May Improve Cognitive Functioning in Bipolar Disorder.” The Atlantic 15 Aug. 2012, sec. Health: (online) http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/08/study-pot-may-improve-cognitive-functioning-in-bipolar-disorder/261140/. 5 Oct. 2012.
Armentano, Paul. “What Your Government Knows About Cannabis And Cancer — And Isn’t Telling You.” Huff Post 24 June 2008: n. pag. Politics. (online) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-armentano/what-your-government-know_b_108712.html. 5 Oct. 2012.
“Drugfacts.” Painkillers. N.p., n.d. (online) www.justthinktwice.com/drug_facts/painkillers.html. 5 Oct. 2012.
Geesman, Jim. “Marijuana Use After Surgical and Chemotherapeutic Treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme by Jim Geesman.” Welcome to Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine. (online) http://rxmarijuana.com/glioblastoma_multiforme.htm. Web. 5 Oct. 2012.
Gumbiner, Jann. “Is Marijuana Addictive?.” Psychology Today 5 Dec. 2010, sec. The Teenage Mind: (online) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-teenage-mind/201012/is-marijuana-addictive. 5 Oct. 2012.
Martel, Pat. “Medical marijuana support group in the works – Health – CBC News.” CBC.ca. CBC, 2 Oct. 2012. (online) http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/10/02/pei-medical-marijuana-support-584.html. 5 Oct. 2012.
Silverman, Jacob. “HowStuffWorks: Making a Case for Legal Medical Marijuana.” HowStuffWorks “Science”. (online) http://science.howstuffworks.com/medical-marijuana1.htm. 5 Oct. 2012.
Stone, Chad . “Medical Reasons For Marijuana | LIVESTRONG.COM.” LIVESTRONG.COM – Lose Weight & Get Fit with Diet, Nutrition & Fitness Tools | LIVESTRONG.COM. May 2011. (online). http://www.livestrong.com/article/98476-medical-reasons-marijuana/. 5 Oct. 2012.
Tetrault, Jeanette M.. “Effects of Marijuana Smoking on Pulmonary Function and Respiratory Complications: A Systematic Review.” Archives of Internal Medicine 12 Feb. 2007: n. pag. Does the regular smoking of marijuana cause lung cancer or in any way permanently injure the lungs?. Web. 5 Oct. 2012.