Let me start out this little web page by saying that I have never been one for smoking.
I grew up with chronic asthma issues and nothing made it worse than inhaling someone else’s cigarette smoke. From this I think I just learnt to despise it – plus the smell of cigarette smoke never did it for me one bit.
So I can count on one hand the amount of times in my life – think late-teens – I’ve had either a plain old cigarette or a joint (marijuana) between my lips.
Not only that, I do not go anywhere near marijuana-use in my own life and I currently don’t support it’s legalization.
But what I do have is curiosity and an open-mind.
So when I heard about the acceptance of marijuana for therapeutic and medicinal purposes in countries that have previously outlawed and demonized it decade upon decade, my ears perked up and I had to research more into it just to see what it was all about.
I didn’t want to research into the topic because I had a secret intention or desire to use marijuana for medicinal or any other purposes at all. I am very interested in the natural healing arts and I was also fascinated that a plant that grows from mother nature and that has been used for thousands of years for healing and spiritual uses could be so viciously outlawed by modern day governments but then finds itself traveling full circle – once again accepted as a functional and useful medicinal property.
I want to reinforce that point again! When it comes to marijuana, I find it absolutely astonishing that governments around the world who once and still enforce severe penalties and dirty criminal records (including imprisonment) for its possession and usage can find within all of that ‘wrongness’ a context where it can be legal, helpful, and healing for people with certain medical conditions.
Such rigid and hardcore laws overturned in accordance with new understanding doesn’t happen lightly by world governments. There must be a strong conviction for such a 180 degree turn in direction.
Because of this I wanted to get an understanding of the situation as my knowledge on the whole topic was nil. In fact, I’ve grown up thinking that marijuana is only for the lazy people that have nothing better to do with their time than to waste it. It seems that this perception of mine is not the whole truth.
Through my research into the topic I have come to see that marijuana has it’s place for healing and treatment in many pain and neurological conditions when it is used legally under the supervision of a health professional. Like I said before, I don’t condone or support recreational marijuana use one bit. Just like in the Indian traditional medicine system called Ayurveda, cannabis used as a recreational drug is considered toxic to the mind and body however they also identify it does definitely have positive uses when it comes to healing and treating certain physical conditions and ailments.
I believe that medicine properly used becomes nectar and improperly used become poison.
A Brief History of Medicinal Marijuana Use
The first formal report of cannabis as a medicine appeared in China nearly 5000 years ago when it was recommended for malaria, constipation, rheumatic pains and childbirth and, mixed with wine, as a surgical analgesic. According to Chinese legend, the emperor Shen Nung (circa 2700BC) discovered marijuana’s healing properties as well as those of two other mainstays of Chinese herbal medicine, ginseng and ephedra. In a compendium of drug recipes compiled in 1 A.D., based on the traditions from the time of Shen Ning, marijuana is depicted as an ideogram of plants drying in a shed. This ancient text, which is considered to be the world’s oldest pharmacopoeia, recommends marijuana for more than 100 aiments, including gout, rheumatism, malaria, and absentmindedness. Centuries later a Chinese medical text from 1578 A.D described the effective use of marijuana to treat vomiting, parasitic infections, and hemorrhage.
In India, marijuana has been associated with healing, religion and magic for thousands of years. Practitioners of traditional Ayurvedic medicine still prescribe marijuana to promote sleep, appertite, anad digestion as well as to relieve pain.
There were medicinal marijuana treatment recommendations for a variety of ailments in the ancient Greek and Roman era by their subsequent physicians such as Galen (2 A.D.), Pliny the Elder (circa 25 A.D.) and Discorides (1 A.D.).
Medicinal marijuana was not introduced into the Western World until an Irish doctor, William O’Shaughnessy, learned of the herb as a professor at the Medical College of Calcutta. In the 1830′s he did many scientific experiments connecting the positive relationship between marijuana and certain health conditions. For example, he found success in using marijuana to treat the often-fatal vomiting and diarrhea associated with cholera.
European and American physicians were fascinated with O’Shaughnessy’s findings and plenty of Western research on medical marijuana began. Hundreds of Western and Indian doctors presented marijuana’s medical benefits as part of a British convened Medical Drugs Commission in 1893-1894. They told of the major successes treating cramps, headache, asthma, diabetes, impotence, acute and chronic pain, fever, appetite loss, and plenty of other conditions with the plant. On this testimony, members of the commission concluded that marijuana represented one of the most important drugs in the Indian pharmacopoeia and that “modern use of hemp drugs is practically attended by no evil results at all.” Queen Victoria’s personal physician wrote on the basis of more than 30 years’ experience, that “Indian hemp, when pure and administered carefully, is one of the most valuable medicines we possess”.
In America, marijuana-based medication accelerated with pharmaceutical companies consistently producing potent and reliable drugs from hemp plants. By the 1930s, at least two American companies were selling standardized extracts of marijuana for analgesic, antispasmodic and sedative uses. Whilst another manufacturer sold marijuana cigarettes as a remedy for asthma. However soon after this more effective synthetic drugs such as aspirin began replacing these herbal remedies. Meanwhile, recreational marijuana smoking became popular among jazz musicians and artists at the time – and with it claims that it was the cause of crime, mental illness and even death. Against the advice of the American Medical Association, the U.S. Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which imposed tough restrictions on marijuana sales and prescription. From there on marijuana was given the illegal status it now holds. It wasn’t until 1996 that America began to change state laws to permit cultivation or consumption of cannabis for medical purposes by citizens, if a doctor provides a written endorsement.
How Could They!?
So how could such countries who have outlawed this plant called marijuana change their tune by allowing it to be legally used by everyday citizens of their country for medicinal purposes?
The backing of scientific proof.
Such stringent laws would never be overturned by a government in today’s world just through personal opinion, personal experience, or a theory. The theories, opinions, and experiences need to be tested in a controlled environment where accurate details of the plant’s effects, both positive and negative, can be tested – that’s where scientific research comes in.
Through this research they have found that marijuana can be very useful in the treatment of many physical ailments. Here are some of them (research studies are linked):
- Collagen-Induced Arthritis – 1
- Asthma – 1
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – 1 2
- Alcohol Abuse – 1
- Atherosclerosis – 1
- Colorectal Cancer – 1
- Depression – 1 2 3 4
- Bipolar Disorder – 1 2
- Digestive Diseases – 1
- Huntington’s Disease – 1
- Epilepsy – 1 2 3
- Hep C – 1
- Leukemia – 1
- Skin Tumors – 1
- Parkinson’s Disease – 1
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder -1
- Psoriasis – 1
- HIV – 1
- Sickle-Cell Disease – 1
- Sleep Apnea – 1
- Anorexia Nervosa – 1
- Tourette Syndrome -1
Safety Of Marijuana Use
Safety is a big issue and an important one when it comes to a government deciding whether to legally allow a substance to be used medicinally. Safety is in marijuana’s favor. There have been no confirmed published cases worldwide of human deaths from cannabis poisoning, and the dose of the chemical components in the marijuana plant required to produce 50% mortality in rodents is extremely high compared with other commonly used drugs.
According to Lester Grinspoon, Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, ”When cannabis regains its place in the US Pharmacopeia, a status it lost after the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, it will be seen as one of the safest drugs in that compendium”.
Also a large 2006 study found no causative link to oral, laryngeal, pharyngeal, esophageal or lung cancer when adjusting for several confounding factors including cigarette smoking and alcohol use.
Not only this, the US Drug Enforcement Administration chief administrative law judge, Judge Francis Young, states: “Despite [a] long history of use and the extraordinarily high numbers of social smokers, there are simply no credible medical reports to suggest that consuming marijuana has caused a single death. In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity…. Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”
I never knew this. I grew up thinking that smoking marijuana was extremely toxic and was associated with a massive increase of cancer and other death-related conditions. I avoided going near the stuff for as long as I could. I also grew up thinking it was highly addictive but it turns out that tobacco and alcohol are more than twice as addictive… yet they are legal and accepted in our culture.
Medicinal Marijuana and Pain Problems
The effectiveness of cannabis as an analgesic has been the subject of numerous studies. University of Oxford doctors found that the brain in response to marijuana showed reduced response to pain, suggesting that the the drug may help patients endure pain. Brain scans showed reduced activity in two centers of the brain where pain is registered: The mid-Anterior cingulate cortex and the right Amygdala.
Five published studies that demonstrate the pain relieving effects of medical marijuana:
- Smoked medical marijuana reduced pain in HIV patients. In one study, 50 patients assigned either to cannabis or placebo finished the study. Although 52% of those who smoked marijuana had a 30% or more reduction in pain intensity, just 24% of those in the placebo group did. The study is published in the journal Neurology.
- In another study, 28 patients were assigned to either marijuana or placebo — and 46% of pot smokers compared to 18% of the placebo group reported 30% or more pain relief. That study is in Neuropsychopharmacology.
- Medical marijuana helped reduce pain in people suffering spinal cord injury and other conditions. In this study, 38 patients smoked either high-dose or low-dose marijuana; 32 finished all three sessions. Both doses reduced neuropathic pain from different causes. Results appear in the Journal of Pain.
- Medium doses of marijuana can reduce pain perception, another study found. Fifteen healthy volunteers smoked a low, medium, or high dose of marijuana to see if it could counteract the pain produced by an injection of capsaicin, the ”hot” ingredient in chili peppers. The higher the dose, the greater the pain relief. The study was published in Anesthesiology.
- In another study, 14 volunteers were assigned to get low, medium, or high doses of medical marijuana, on six different occasions. The vaporized method was found safe; patients preferred it to smoking. The study is in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
Many people have found the personal benefits of medical marijuana from all around the world, here are some stories:
“I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus at 17 and am now 55. It’s been a long hard ride. Rather than use narcotics for pain management, I have chosen to use medicinal marijuana for several years now, mostly at night to aid in pain control and sleep. I would much rather use an all-natural substance as opposed to chemicals from a lab. The benefits to me are THERE ARE NO SIDE EFFECTS! I have 8 children, 3 with epilepsy (1 uses cannabis for seizure control), and a daughter with lupus, like myself. Marijuana is just common sense; a natural herb that gives pain relief and aids in sleep.” - Cat Cadieux, California source
“I have had several injuries at work. In 2000 I was hit by forklift and pinned against my own machine. In 2005 I had 5000kg of grapes dropped on top of me while working in a winery. In 2007 I developed bi-lateral carpal tunnel. These days I suffer from chronic debilitating pain, that on most days leaves me so confused and disoriented that I struggle to focus on simple tasks as the pain is too distracting…
“No amount of oxycotin or any other drug has ever dealt with the pain like marijuana does.” – Patrick McCartney, Australia source
“Basically using cannabis medicinally with a medical attitude i the methods prescribed for Chronic pain produced very positive results.” - John Reeves, age 49, Australia. source
If you have a medical condition that can be treated with marijuana will it help you?
The modern day scientific evidence points to the fact that it might. But personally I’m not sure because I have no experience with it and therefore I don’t feel at all comfortable recommending it. But what I do recommend is researching into whether or not medical marijuana is available legally in your part of the world and if it is then discuss your options with your local doctor. From there you may be accepted to use medical marijuana as treatment for your condition and as a consequence you will be able to grow one or two or your own plants for your medicinal needs because you’ll have legal documentation.
Like I said at the start of this: medicine properly used becomes nectar and improperly used become poison. You need to use anything related to medicinal marijuana in a legal, sensible, and directed way. Consult your local doctor and work together to treat your medical condition whilst you have all the proper legal documentation. I in no way support any other use of medicinal marijuana.
To read more about medical marijuana there books on Amazon such as Medical Marijuana 101, Marijuana: Gateway To Health, Marijuana Medical Handbook. There are also books available to help with growing medical marijuana such as Ryan Riley’s guide for your own legal use.
Personally, I would recommend first seeking other alternatives out for your medical problem such as naturopathy, mindfulness meditation, posture realignment, acupuncture, massage, etc. before going down the medical marijuana route.