Definition: Defining the Meaning of Medical Cannabis
(Medical marijuana) - Refers to the use of cannabis and its constituent cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), as medical therapy to treat disease or alleviate symptoms. The Cannabis plant has a history of medicinal use dating back thousands of years across many cultures. Its usage in modern times is controversial, and in recent years the American Medical Association, the MMA, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and other medical organizations have issued statements opposing its usage for medicinal purposes. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that while cannabinoids may have potential as therapy for a number of medical conditions, they do not recommend their use until more research can be done. They call for moving cannabis from DEA Schedule 1 to DEA Schedule 2 to facilitate this research.
Marijuana is one of the most beneficial and therapeutically active substances known to man. Medical Cannabis refers to the use of the drug cannabis as a physician-recommended herbal therapy, most notably as an antiemetic. Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for approximately 4,000 years. Writings from ancient India confirm that its psychoactive properties were recognized, and doctors used it for a variety of illnesses and ailments. These included a whole host of gastrointestinal disorders, insomnia, headaches and as a pain reliever frequently used in childbirth.
In the 1970s, a synthetic version of THC, the primary active ingredient in cannabis, was synthesized to make the drug Marinol.
Due to the prohibition of marijuana however; it's use as a medicine is restricted. However, recent Canadian government legislation have made it more available to patients. Patients are now able to apply for personal possession and even a limited cultivation license.
Few herbs offer a wide variety of therapeutic applications like these:
- Relief of muscle spasms
- Relief of chronic pain
- Reduction in interlobular pressure inside the eye
- Suppression of nausea
- Weight loss - increase and restore metabolism
- AIDS - Marijuana can reduce the nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting from the condition itself and the medications as well.
- Glaucoma - Marijuana relieves the internal eye pressure of glaucoma, and therefore relieving the pain and slowing or even stopping the condition.
- Cancer- Many side effects of the medication to stop cancer can be relieve with Marijuana, some studies suggest that Marijuana tends to slow down the progress of some types of cancer.
- Multiple Sclerosis - Muscle pain, spasticity, tremors and unsteadiness are some of the effects caused by the disease that can be relieved by Marijuana.
- Epilepsy - in some patients, epileptic seizures can be prevented with Marijuana use.
- Chronic pain - Marijuana helps to alleviate the pain caused from many types of injuries and disorders.
- Anxiety, Depression or Obsession - Even though mild anxiety is a common side effect in some users, cannabis can elevate your mood and expand the mind
"With the expansiveness that occurs with marijuana, the subject may begin to notice infinite possibilities to raise the quality of his/her life that would otherwise have remained hidden from normal, defensive consciousness. And feelings of health and happiness naturally lead to hope, which of itself can be curative." - Joan Bello
Many obsessions or quick fixes to psychological problems can be elevated by Marijuana as well. Many people eat because they're depressed. If the depression is treated, the obsession to eat should be gone as well.
Any of these physiological conditions can be treated by a psychiatrist; marijuana should be an alternative therapy, used in conjunction with psychiatric therapy.
Physical Addictions - There have been testimonies from opiate users that report an easing of addiction cravings. Some cannabinoids in cannabis are believed to have similar effects as Ibogaine, a medication used to treat heroin addiction.
The cannabinoids in Marijuana mimic the healing effects of a naturally occurring chemical in the brain called Anandimide. However, this naturally occurring cannabinoid also produces the negative effects that one would experience from high concentrations of cannabinoids in marijuana.
Medical marijuana can also benefit you psychologically and spiritually.
Marijuana can be used to enhance personal Spirituality. The herb tends to reveal your true self. It uncovers inner confusion and reveals your true direction - if you let it. Marijuana offers an effect that is both energizing and relaxing at the same time. This balanced effect will help some to think more clearly and more efficiently afterwards.
"Marijuana will not tolerate repression. Tranquillizers and depressants relax the body and release tension, but the state of mind associated with these drugs is "unconsciousness" whereby we escape rather than resolve our dilemmas. Alcoholism is an extreme need of both the body and personality sometimes to release the nervousness that has accumulated and continues to build up to an unbearable degree. It serves the same function for the collective personality for the society, as well A culture in which alcohol and tranquillizers are the prevalent form of release prefers not to witness internal confusion and actually choose to act without conscious participation, maintaining a semi-numb condition." - Joan Bello
"Marijuana can act as the loosening agent, so that whatever has been banned from consciousness may come cascading forth. To uncover our deceptions without our usual rationalizations can be unpleasant, an experience that has turned many psychologically fragile individuals away from marijuana despite its therapeutic catharsis." - Joan Bello.
Cannabis also acts as an antispasmodic and anticonvulsant and is indicated for neurological conditions such as epilepsy especially complex partial seizures, multiple sclerosis, and spasms. As an analgesic and an immunomodulator it is indicated for conditions such as migraine, arthritis, spinal and skeletal disorders.
As a bronchodilator it is beneficial for asthma. It also reduces the intraocular pressure and is indicated for glaucoma.
Recent studies have shown the drug to be efficacious in treating mood disorders and mental health issues such as depression, post traumatic stress disorder, clinical depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and bipolar disorder.
It is also indicated for premenstrual syndrome, hypertension, and insomnia. It is also reported to be an effective treatment for constipation and alcohol hangovers.
A pharmaceutical product, Marinol, is widely available through prescription. It comes in the form of a pill and is also being studied by researchers for suitability via other delivery methods, such as an inhaler or patch. The active ingredient of Marinol is synthetic THC, which has been found to relieve the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy for cancer patients and to assist with loss of appetite with AIDS patients.
Illegal, Legal, and Semi Legal Marijuana use by country and state
Australia - Politicians in the Australian Capital Territory voted to allow doctors to determine when marijuana is medically appropriate. The decision enraged the Australian Federal Police and intensive lobbying efforts began to reverse the legislative action. Legislators caved-in to the demands of the police, reversed their earlier action, and voted to block doctors from legally prescribing marijuana.
Australian Capital Territory - possession of up to 25 grams, or two plants, is not a criminal offense but carries a $100 fine.
South Australia - Possession of cannabis is a moderate offense, with fines ranging from $150 to $300 for possession and cultivation of small amounts.
Western Australia - Possession of up to two plants is accepted for private use, excess of the latter can face fines of over $150.
New South Wales and Tasmania - Cannabis use is illegal and attracts fines.
Queensland - It is a criminal offense to be in possession of any amount of cannabis, people charged must face court and can be convicted. Possession of cannabis or any schedule 1 or 2 drug specified in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987 carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years in Queensland. Possession of smoking utensils or anything used to smoke cannabis is also a criminal offense in Queensland.
Belgium - Individual use of marijuana by adults has the lowest priority to police, if the use doesn't cause any problems to his environment. Which basically means the use in public places, possession of more than 3 grams, or the sale are pursued in court.
Medical Cannabis - the Belgian government has recently initiated trials to determine the effectiveness of medical cannabis, and may soon decriminalize possession of small amounts.
Canada - A court declared Canada's Marijuana Medical Access Regulations unconstitutional "in not allowing seriously ill Canadians to use marijuana because there is no legal source of supply of the drug." In effect, this means that Canadians cannot be prosecuted for using marijuana medically because the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations gives patients the right to do so, but does not set up any legal apparatus for obtaining cannabis.
Canada produces about 400 kg of medical cannabis annually, in an abandoned mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba. On April 19, 2005, the Canadian government additionally licensed the prescription sale of a natural marijuana extract - effectively liquid marijuana - called Sativex.
The federal department Health Canada now provides detailed advice (for its own citizens), including not only the medical information needed to make an informed choice, but the law enforcement aspects, and how to apply for authorization to possess marijuana for medical purposes. There is also information that may be of help to the patient's health professional. Apply to the Office of Cannabis Medical Access (OCMA) or Medical Marihuana Access Division (MMAD).
Germany - Consumption is legal, possession of small amounts is treated differently between federal states. In most cases possession of less than 5g Cannabis herb or resin is not prosecuted. There are no special laws for medical Cannabis. In November 2007 some patients get an exception approval for using medical marijuana from the public health authority.
Ireland - Under Irish law cannabis is not recognized as having any medical benefits. The most recent Misuse of Drugs lists cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol and its derivatives as schedule 1 drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Acts of 1977 and 1984.
Netherlands - The possession/purchase of Cannabis is "tolerated" in small amounts. One can purchase cannabis in special shops (called "coffee shops") if one is age eighteen and over. Cultivation and wholesale of cannabis is likewise "tolerated" in small amounts (guidelines here are no more than five plants).
Medical Cannabis - Since 2003 it is a legal prescription drug known as "Mediwiet", available at pharmacies. However laws remain on the books classifying possession and sale as illegal, but due to a non-enforcement policy, it has been de facto legalized.
New Zealand - Possession of any amount of cannabis is illegal in New Zealand and can result in a fine of up to $500 or even a 3-month prison sentence. Anyone caught in possession of more than 28 grams of cannabis or 100 cannabis joints is classed as a dealer unless s/he can prove they are not.
Medical Cannabis - Health Minister Annette King has stated that she is not "unsympathetic to using cannabis in a medicinal form, but that's different to saying we should let everybody smoke it." Her official position is that more conclusive studies are needed, and a method of regulating dosage is necessary before she support medical access to cannabis.
United Kingdom - Cultivation and use of cannabis was generally outlawed in 1928. Cannabis was downgraded from a Class B to a Class C drug in January 2004. Possession: If one is caught with even a "small" amount of cannabis on him or her person or premises, the person is liable to be prosecuted.
Medical Cannabis - In 1999, a House of Lords inquiry recommended that cannabis be made available with a doctor's prescription. Though the government of the U. K. has not accepted the recommendations, new long-term clinical trials have been authorized. Sometimes juries have returned verdicts of "not guilty" for people charged with marijuana possession for medical use.
USA - Medical Cannabis - The United States federal government does not currently recognize any legitimate medical use. However 12 state laws currently allow for the medicinal use of cannabis but the United States Supreme Court has later ruled that the federal government has the right to regulate and criminalize marijuana also in these states, even for medical purposes. Smoked cannabis is today not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Since 1996, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have passed laws to let sick people who qualify use marijuana.
Lately a leading US doctors group has endorsed using marijuana for medical purposes, urging the US government to roll back a prohibition on using it to treat patients and supporting studies into its medical applications.
The federal government of the United States continues to argue that smoked cannabis has no recognized medical purpose (pointing to a definition of "medical purpose" published by the DEA, not the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, or the office of the U. S. Surgeon General and the U. S. Public Health Service).
Alaska - 1 oz usable; 6 plants (3 mature, 3 immature) - Approved Conditions: Cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity, and nausea. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
California - 8 oz usable; 18 plants (6 mature, 12 immature) - California was one of the first. In 1996 California voters passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, legalizing marijuana for medical use. Proposition 215 permits seriously ill Californians to use marijuana, provided they first obtain a doctor's recommendation. Proposition 215 also gives doctors a legal defense against professional or legal sanctions for recommending marijuana use. Approved Conditions: AIDS, anorexia, arthritis, cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, migraine, persistent muscle spasms, including spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, seizures, including seizures associated with epilepsy, severe nausea; Other chronic or persistent medical symptoms.
Colorado - 2 oz usable; 6 plants (3 mature, 3 immature) - Approved Conditions: Cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS positive, cachexia; severe pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those that are characteristic of epilepsy; or persistent muscle spasms, including those that are characteristic of multiple sclerosis. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Colorado Board of Health.
Hawaii - 3 oz usable; 7 plants (3 mature, 4 immature) - Approved conditions: Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV/AIDS; A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn's disease. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Hawaii Department of Health.
Maine - 1.25 oz usable; 6 plants (3 mature, 3 immature) - Approved diagnosis: epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; glaucoma; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea or vomiting as a result of AIDS or cancer chemotherapy.
Maryland - Passed a medical marijuana affirmative defense law in 2003 which dictates that if a person is arrested for marijuana use but is found to be using marijuana out of medical necessity, she or he will only face a modest fine.
Montana - 1 oz usable; 6 plants - A qualifying patient and a qualifying patient's caregiver may each possess six marijuana plants and one ounce of usable marijuana. "Usable marijuana" means the dried leaves and flowers of marijuana and any mixture or preparation of marijuana.
Nevada - 1 oz usable; 7 plants (3 mature, 4 immature) - Approved Conditions: AIDS; cancer; glaucoma; and any medical condition or treatment to a medical condition that produces cachexia, persistent muscle spasms or seizures, severe nausea or pain. Other conditions are subject to approval by the health division of the state Department of Human Resources.
New Mexico - 6 oz usable; 7 plants (4 mature, 3 immature) - Approved Conditions: Under current state law, the only qualifying conditions for the medical cannabis program are cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, spinal cord damage with intractable spasticity, HIV/AIDS. Also, any patient in hospice care could qualify.
Oregon - 24 oz usable; 24 plants (6 mature, 18 immature) - Approved Conditions: Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV/AIDS, or treatment for these conditions; A medical condition or treatment for a medical condition that produces cachexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, including seizures caused by epilepsy, or persistent muscle spasms, including spasms caused by multiple sclerosis. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Health Division of the Oregon Department of Human Resources.
Rhode Island - 2.5 oz usable; 12 plants - Approved Conditions: Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, or the treatment of these conditions; A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating, chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to, those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to, those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn's disease; or agitation of Alzheimer's Disease; or any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the state Department of Health.
Vermont - 2 oz usable; 9 plants (2 mature, 7 immature) - Approved Conditions: Cancer, AIDS, positive status for HIV, multiple sclerosis, or the treatment of these conditions if the disease or the treatment results in severe, persistent, and intractable symptoms; or a disease, medical condition, or its treatment that is chronic, debilitating and produces severe, persistent, and one or more of the following intractable symptoms: cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe pain or nausea or seizures.
Washington - 60-day supply - Approved Conditions: Cachexia; cancer; HIV or AIDS; epilepsy; glaucoma; intractable pain (defined as pain unrelieved by standard treatment or medications); and multiple sclerosis. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Washington Board of Health.
Quick Facts: Marijuana
Marijuana is the most common illicit drug used in the United States.
After a period of decline in the last decade, its use has been increasing among young people since 2007, corresponding to a diminishing perception of the drug's risks that may be associated with increased public debate over the drug's legal status. Although the U.S. federal government considers marijuana a Schedule I substance (having no medicinal uses and high risk for abuse), two states have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use, and 21 states have passed laws allowing its use as a treatment for certain medical conditions.
When marijuana is smoked, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. It is absorbed more slowly when ingested in food or drink.
In 2012, THC concentrations in marijuana averaged close to 15 percent, compared to around 4 percent in the 1980s. For a new user, this may mean exposure to higher concentrations of THC, with a greater chance of an adverse or unpredictable reaction. Increases in potency may account for the rise in emergency department visits involving marijuana use. For frequent users, it may mean a greater risk for addiction if they are exposing themselves to high doses on a regular basis.
Statistics: U.S. Medical Marijuana Patient
|Legal Medical Marijuana Patients in the U.S. (Oct. 27, 2014)|
|State||Medical marijuana patients||State pop.||# per 1,000 state residents|
|11. Maryland||Not open||5,928,814||--|
|12. Massachusetts||Not available||6,692,824||--|
|14. Minnesota||Not open||5,420,380||--|
|17. New Hampshire||Not open||1,323,459||--|
|18. New Jersey||1,670||8,899,339||0.2|
|19. New Mexico||11,547||2,085,287||5.5|
|20. New York||Not open||19,651,127||--|
|22. Rhode Island||9,298||1,051,511||8.8|