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Posted by : Simon "Meshy" Roberts(mynamesnot)
Posted On : 2014/2/5 7:01:49
Marijuana has been an illegal drug for more than thirty years now. Perhaps this is the reasonthat many people do not realize the fact that marijuana has a variety of benefits for certaindiseases, and that it could help many people in this country in dealing with these diseases.
Specifically, the use of marijuana would probably benefit a large number of cancer patients.
Chemotherapy, the treatment used for just about every cancer patient, is often associated withnausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Many patients do get relief from traditional medications,but there are also many patients who will only get the relief they need from using marijuana.
Because of this, marijuana should be a legal, prescription drug that can be given to cancerpatients who are not getting relief from any other medications. Doctors should be able to decidewhat type of medicine is best for their patients, rather than the government. In society today, itwould be hard to get the government to change its stance on legalizing marijuana, but perhapsby raising public awareness about the benefits it can bring to a large number of people, theattitude of the government toward this issue may begin to change.
The marijuana or cannabis plant grows as a weed and is cultivated all over the world. The resinemanating from the flowers on female plants is a substance that holds chemical compoundswhich are responsible for both the intoxicating and medicinal effects of marijuana (Grinspoon,Bakalar, 1997, 2). Marijuana has a long history of being used in medicine. The first evidence ofthis was in China approximately five thousand years ago. It was used for a variety of ailmentssuch as malaria, constipation, rheumatic pains, absentmindedness, and female disorders.
Around the same time period, it was also use in India to quicken the mind, lower fevers, inducesleep, cure dysentery, stimulate appetite, improve digestion, relieve headaches, and curevenereal diseases (Grinspoon, Bakalar, 1997, 3). The first Western doctor to experiment withmedicinal marijuana, W. B. O’Shaughnessy from the Medical College of Calcutta, usedmarijuana with patients suffering from rabies, rheumatism, epilepsy, and tetanus, and wroteabout the drug’s value to medicine in 1839. When he began to provide pharmacists in Englandwith cannabis, doctors across Europe and the United States began to prescribe the medicationfor a vast number of medical conditions (Grinspoon, Bakalar, 1997, 4).
With the development of synthetic drugs toward the end of the nineteenth century, the use ofmedicinal marijuana declined. Although medical experimentation could continue for a short time,the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 eventually undermined this: “Under the Marihuana Tax Act,anyone using the hemp plant for certain defined industrial or medical purposes was required toregister and pay a tax of a dollar an ounce. A person using marihuana for any other purposehad to pay a tax of $100 an ounce on unregistered transactions” (Grinspoon, Bakalar, 1997,
7-8). By the 1960s, the government’s concern about the recreational use of marijuana hadbegun to increase. In 1970, Congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention andControl Act. This act assigned a variety of drugs to one of five schedules. Cannabis was placedin Schedule I (Grinspoon, Bakalar, 1997, 13). Legally, drugs assigned to Schedule I meet threecriteria: “(1) high potential for abuse, (2) has no therapeutic value, and (3) is not safe formedical use (Mathre, 1997, 179). In 1972, two years later, the National Organization for theReform of Marihuana Laws, or NORML, petitioned the Bureau of Narcotics and DangerousDrugs to transfer marijuana to Schedule II. If this were to occur, marijuana could be legallyprescribed by doctors. After a number of hearings and appeals, from 1972 until 1992, the DrugEnforcement Administration, or DEA, made a final statement, refusing to reclassify marijuana toSchedule II. NORML did, however, get delta-9-THC, a synthetic form of cannabis reclassified toSchedule II, but marijuana has never been reclassified (Grinspoon, Bakalar, 1997, 14-17).
A major argument in the case against legalizing marijuana, either fully or for medicinal use, isthe belief that marijuana is a gateway drug, meaning that it will lead to use of stronger and moredangerous drugs. Marijuana is a gateway drug only in the sense that in recreational use, itusually precedes, rather than follows the use of other drugs. It is important to note that researchon this has only been done with recreational use. This does not mean that the same patternwould be seen among users of medical marijuana (Mack, Joy, 2001, 64).
Medical marijuana would be helpful to a variety of people, especially those suffering fromcancer. The treatment used for most cancer patients is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is usuallyadministered intravenously once every few weeks. The chemotherapeutic agents used are“among the most powerful and toxic chemicals used in medicine” (Grinspoon, Bakalar, 1997,24). The chemicals are used to attack and kill cancer cells, but the chemicals cannot tell thedifference between cancer cells and healthy cells, and chemotherapy does destroy many of thebody’s healthy cells. Because of this, chemotherapy produces many extremely unpleasant sideeffects, the most common of these being nausea and vomiting, and with that, a loss of appetite.
Some patients even develop a conditioned response in apprehension to treatment, and they willvomit upon entering the treatment room or when arriving at the hospital. Depending on the typeof cancer, 50 to 80 percent of patients will also develop cachexia, “a disproportionate loss oflean body tissue” which also contributes to a weakened state (Mack, Joy, 2001, 101). If thenausea, vomiting, and cachexia are not controlled, the effectiveness of the treatment may beput in jeopardy because many patients will persuade their doctors to lower the dosages orlessen the treatment to reduce these side effects (Grinspoon, Bakalar, 1997, 24).
Many cancer patients do get sufficient relief from the medications prescribed to them.
Antiemetic drugs, which decrease the vomiting and feelings of nausea, are usually used alongwith chemotherapy treatments. The most popular of these drugs include prochlorperazine orcompazine, ondansetr or Zofran, and granisetron or Kytril. Zofran is now considered to be themost effective of these drugs, but all of these drugs carry the possibility that they will neverwork. (Grinspoon, Bakalar, 1997, 24). There are also a few treatments used for cachexia insome cases: “Standard therapies for cachexia include intravenous or tube feeding as well atreatment with megestrol acetate (Megrace), an appetite stimulant” (Mack, Joy, 2001, 101). The
main problem with Megrace treatments is that they cause the patient to gain weight in the formof fat, rather than protein, which is what the patient really needs. Megace can also cause sideeffects such as hyperglycemia and hypertension (Mack, Joy, 2001, 101).
Marijuana would be very beneficial in the treatment of nausea and vomiting, as well as in thetreatment of cachexia. Several different cannabinoids (forms of cannabis) have been tested fortheir ability to curb the feelings of nausea and the vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Four ofthe major compounds tested have proven “mildly effective in preventing vomiting followingcancer chemotherapy” (Mack, Joy, 2001, 98). In a study analyzing a variety of trials done by theBritish Medical Journal, patients “overwhelmingly preferred cannabinoids for furtherchemotherapy” (Campbell, Carroll, Reynolds, Tramer, et al, 2001, 17). Marijuana may also helpwith cancer patients suffering from cachexia because marijuana is known for its ability tostimulate appetite without as many side effects as Megrace (Mack, Joy, 2001, 101). Marijuanamay also be advantageous to cancer patients because of its relatively low cost in comparison tomost of the other medications used to treat these side effects of chemotherapy.
The only marijuana-based medication available by prescription in the United States is calleddronabinol, or “Marinol,” which is administered in pill form. Marinol has only been approved foruse to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and to reduce cachexia in AIDSpatients (Mack, Joy, 2001, 99). There is no strong support for the belief that smoked marijuanais better suited to relieve these symptoms in patients than Marinol. In one study comparing thetwo, it was found that both seem to prevent vomiting to a similar degree (Mack, Joy, 2001, 100).
It does, however, seem to make sense that inhaling marijuana rather than swallowing a pill,would be better, especially for reducing vomiting and nausea. If the vomiting is severe, the oralmarijuana would not be able to stay down long enough to be effective. Another advantage toinhaling marijuana is that it allows a patient to take in only the amount he or she needs to feelbetter. This would greatly reduce the risk of any side effects (Mack, Joy, 2001, 101). Becausethe smoking of marijuana can also cause a variety of side effects similar to those of smokingcigarettes, it is suggested that different methods of delivering the drug to the body be tested,such as using inhalers (Mack, Joy, 2001, 101).
Marijuana is not only useful in treating cancer patients. It has also been shown to help peoplewith glaucoma, AIDS, neurological disorders, muscle spasticity, seizure disorders, and chronicpain. This evidence alone shows that it cannot honestly be classified as a Schedule I drug. Itdefinitely does have some therapeutic value. Instead of blindly forbidding the use of marijuanain the United States, the government could look at how its use, with a doctor’s prescription, canbenefit many members of society. This way, doctors and patients could make educated choicesabout the right medications to use in their treatment, without legal restrictions, and patientswould be able to get the best possible medication; however, legalizing marijuana, even only formedicinal uses, would be hard to do in this country mainly because of the widely held belief thatmarijuana is a gateway drug to harsher and more dangerous substances. If oncologists wouldstress the upside of legalizing marijuana for their patient, that would add legitimacy to theargument. Testimonials by cancer patients what would illustrate the relief they would gain bysmoking marijuana would also have impact. A public awareness campaign including both print
and television media would also be beneficial. The case would have to be made to those whoare not presently suffering the effects of chemotherapy, as well as to those who are. This caseshould be easy to make because no one is immune from cancer and most everyone is afraid ofthe pain and sickness associated with the disease and its treatment, or knows someone who is.
The campaign to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes and the eventual legalization ofmarijuana for these purposes would greatly benefit a large number of people who are currentlysuffering from this disease, and people who may develop this disease in the future.
Long term cannabis use by patients with schizophrenia is associated with enhanced cognitivefunctioning, with both frequency and recency of use linked to better neuropsychologicalperformance, conclude Australian researchers. (1st November 2007) "Logistic regressionanalysis revealed that more patients with lifetime cannabis abuse/dependence performed betteron the psychomotor speed component than those without lifetime abuse/dependence.
Frequency and recency of cannabis use were associated with better performance, particularlyon the attention/processing speed and executive function domains." While acknowledging theissues around cannabis use in schizophrenia patients, the team concludes in the journalSchizophrenia Research: 'In essence, the findings of this study suggest that cannabinoids, viatheir agonistic effects on cannabinoid receptors in the forebrain, may have a potentially usefulrole in the treatment of high-order cognitive processes known to be impaired in schizophrenia."
NZ Medicinal Use Of Cannabis Bill Defeated
New Zealand- The Green Party's three-year
campaign to allow cannabis to be used for medicinal purposes came to grief in Parliament on
Wednesday night. Their bill failed on its first reading, voted down 86-34 on a conscience vote.
Its promoter, Metiria Turei, pleaded with MPs to let it through so it could go to the health select
committee which could hear evidence of how cannabis eased the suffering of seriously ill
people. "Many people already use it and they live in real fear of the law," she said. "Sick and
vulnerable New Zealanders are being jailed . let MPs hear their stories, let these people have
their say." Under the bill, seriously ill people would be able to apply for a cannabis card, issued
on a doctor's authority and registered with the police, which would allow them to grow small
amounts of it. Turei said they didn't have to smoke it, they could use it in other ways to help
relieve their pain such as making tea with it or using it as oil to rub into their limbs.
Sativex is available now in 22 countries including Australia via what is known as named patientsupply. GW Pharmaceuticals are not allowed to promote this, so you are not going to see anyadvertisements or read about it in newspapers. Under this procedure, a patient's doctor writes aprescription for Sativex that is sent to GW Pharmaceuticals in the UK. In countries that allow
this, the material is then sent directly to the patient. The process begins with the doctor sendingan enquiry to: GW Pharmaceuticals has published two new press releases:20/05/2009 - Interim Results For The Six Months Ended 31 March 2009 - GW Files Sativex®Regulatory Submission To read the press releases, go to:
[url=http://archives.hempembassy.net/hempe/resources/Granny_Storm_Crow's_MMJ_Reference_list_jan_2010.pdf]Granny Storm Crow's MMJ Reference list_jan 2010[/url]
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