December 5, 2009 – Cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana (or marihuana), has been a topic of debate for many years, not only in Canada, but also in several other countries including the U.S. and the U.K. However, while marijuana for recreational use has not been legalized in Canada, medical marijuana use can be granted for medicinal needs.

The Definition of Chronic Pain

Although “chronic pain” seems all encompassing and thus easily used as a reason for medical marijuana use, the organization of Health Canada very clearly defines what can be considered severe enough pain for medical marijuana. With that said, there are many suffering from chronic pain – due to a variety of reasons – with grants for the medical use of cannabis.

Arthritis, headaches and back pain are the most common, but fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, neuropathy and phantom limb pain are also common reason for chronic pain. Continuing pain can also be caused by debilitating illnesses such as MS (multiple sclerosis), scoliosis, osteoporosis and others.

Original Treatments for Chronic Pain

For many, medical marijuana use is a “last resort”, used only after several pharmacologic treatments fail. Typically, the first treatments include pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Unfortunately, long-term use can cause serious side effects; even if there is pain relief, it can only be in short periods due to the need for short-term use of the “first line” of treatments.

Should the first treatments fail, narcotic opioids such as codeine, morphine and oxycodone are generally prescribed. Although often highly affective, the concern for these types of narcotics is that they have a high possibility for addiction and abuse. As well, their use is also limited, due to possible side effects in higher doses. The withdrawal symptoms for addictive pharmaceuticals can be mild to painfully severe.

Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain

For those that don’t respond to the first or second line of treatments, medical marijuana may be prescribed. As well, there are those who prefer not to use man-made pharmaceuticals that have a high rate of addiction or serious side effects.

According to Health Canada, “Dependence is unlikely to be problematic when cannabis is used therapeutically, although withdrawal affects may be uncomfortable. These include restlessness, anxiety, mild agitation, irritability, tremor, insomnia and EEG/ sleep disturbance, nausea, diarrhea and cramping.”

Relief from chronic pain, however, far outweighs the possibility of addiction for many:

– Migraines – Severe, incredibly painful and often lasting as long as 72 hours, migraines can cause serious debilitating issues such as nausea, vision changes, vomiting and a high sensitivity to light and sound. Many of the pharmaceuticals used to either stop or lessen the amount of migraines cause the same issues as the onset of the migraines themselves. Often, sufferers stop treatment because it doesn’t work or because the side effects are too severe.

Medical marijuana, on the other hand, has been a well-documented treatment for many years – even throughout the nineteenth century. Cannabinoids have often demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects, as well as dopamine blocking. It is believed by some that one of the causes of migraines is the lack of natural endocannabinoids in the body, which might explain why cannabis works to decrease the pain as well as the symptoms.

– Multiple sclerosis (MS) – MS is a degenerative disease that attacks myelin in the brain and spinal cord. If you imagine nerves to be like electrical wires, myelin is the insulating, protective sheath around the nerves. The autoimmune system treats myelin as a foreign invader, destroying patches of it and leaving nerve fibers exposed, interrupting their normal function. It is debilitating and painful, causing such symptoms as tingling and numbness, painful muscle spasms, tremors, paralysis and more.

Prescribed pharmaceuticals can cause severe, debilitating medical issues such as seizures, abdominal cramps, dizziness, mental disturbances and other problems. Many MS sufferers prefer to self-medicate with marijuana, and have noticed that cannabis helps them control tremors, spasms and bladder control. Tests have also shown that THC helps reduce pain intensity and sleep disturbance significantly.

Although these two illnesses are common for the use of medical marijuana in relieving chronic pain sufferers, the same can be said for rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injuries and even phantom limb pain. While more studies need to be performed to explain exactly how cannabinoids and medical marijuana work, the fact that they do work is clear. Source.

November 21, 2009 – Cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana (or marihuana), has been a topic of debate for many years, not only in Canada, but also in several other countries including the U.S. and the U.K. However, while marijuana for recreational use has not been legalized in Canada, medical marijuana use can be granted for medicinal needs.

The Definition of Chronic Pain

Although “chronic pain” seems all encompassing and thus easily used as a reason for medical marijuana use, the organization of Health Canada very clearly defines what can be considered severe enough pain for medical marijuana. With that said, there are many suffering from chronic pain – due to a variety of reasons – with grants for the medical use of cannabis.

Arthritis, headaches and back pain are the most common, but fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, neuropathy and phantom limb pain are also common reason for chronic pain. Continuing pain can also be caused by debilitating illnesses such as MS (multiple sclerosis), scoliosis, osteoporosis and others.

Original Treatments for Chronic Pain

For many, medical marijuana use is a “last resort”, used only after several pharmacologic treatments fail. Typically, the first treatments include pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Unfortunately, long-term use can cause serious side effects; even if there is pain relief, it can only be in short periods due to the need for short-term use of the “first line” of treatments.

Should the first treatments fail, narcotic opioids such as codeine, morphine and oxycodone are generally prescribed. Although often highly affective, the concern for these types of narcotics is that they have a high possibility for addiction and abuse. As well, their use is also limited, due to possible side effects in higher doses. The withdrawal symptoms for addictive pharmaceuticals can be mild to painfully severe.

Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain

For those that don’t respond to the first or second line of treatments, medical marijuana may be prescribed. As well, there are those who prefer not to use man-made pharmaceuticals that have a high rate of addiction or serious side effects.

According to Health Canada, “Dependence is unlikely to be problematic when cannabis is used therapeutically, although withdrawal affects may be uncomfortable. These include restlessness, anxiety, mild agitation, irritability, tremor, insomnia and EEG/ sleep disturbance, nausea, diarrhea and cramping.”

Relief from chronic pain, however, far outweighs the possibility of addiction for many:

– Migraines – Severe, incredibly painful and often lasting as long as 72 hours, migraines can cause serious debilitating issues such as nausea, vision changes, vomiting and a high sensitivity to light and sound. Many of the pharmaceuticals used to either stop or lessen the amount of migraines cause the same issues as the onset of the migraines themselves. Often, sufferers stop treatment because it doesn’t work or because the side effects are too severe.

Medical marijuana, on the other hand, has been a well-documented treatment for many years – even throughout the nineteenth century. Cannabinoids have often demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects, as well as dopamine blocking. It is believed by some that one of the causes of migraines is the lack of natural endocannabinoids in the body, which might explain why cannabis works to decrease the pain as well as the symptoms.

– Multiple sclerosis (MS) – MS is a degenerative disease that attacks myelin in the brain and spinal cord. If you imagine nerves to be like electrical wires, myelin is the insulating, protective sheath around the nerves. The autoimmune system treats myelin as a foreign invader, destroying patches of it and leaving nerve fibers exposed, interrupting their normal function. It is debilitating and painful, causing such symptoms as tingling and numbness, painful muscle spasms, tremors, paralysis and more.

Prescribed pharmaceuticals can cause severe, debilitating medical issues such as seizures, abdominal cramps, dizziness, mental disturbances and other problems. Many MS sufferers prefer to self-medicate with marijuana, and have noticed that cannabis helps them control tremors, spasms and bladder control. Tests have also shown that THC helps reduce pain intensity and sleep disturbance significantly.

Although these two illnesses are common for the use of medical marijuana in relieving chronic pain sufferers, the same can be said for rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injuries and even phantom limb pain. While more studies need to be performed to explain exactly how cannabinoids and medical marijuana work, the fact that they do work is clear. Health Canada grants access to marijuana for medical use to those who are suffering from grave and debilitating illnesses and those with chronic conditions. Medicinal-Marijuana.ca helps connect qualified patients with designated growers across Canada, providing information, support and resources to all Canadians who would like to access the medical marijuana program of Canada. Visit online today. Source.

July 13, 2009 – Marcy Duda, a former home health aide with four children and two granddaughters, never dreamed she’d be publicly touting the medical benefits of “pot.’’

But marijuana, says the 48-year-old Ware resident, is the only thing that even begins to tfs_mm_hollywoodogcontrol the migraine headaches that plague her nine days a month, which she describes as feeling like “hot, hot ice picks in the left side of my head.’’

Duda has always had migraines. But they got much worse 10 years ago after two operations to remove life-threatening aneurysms, weak areas in the blood vessels in her brain. None of the standard drugs her doctors prescribe help much with her post-surgical symptoms, which include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and pain on her left side “as if my body were cut in half.’’

With marijuana, however, “I can at least leave the dark room,’’ she says, “and it makes me eat a lot of food.’’

The culture wars over marijuana, for recreational and medical use, have been simmering for decades, with marijuana (cannabis) still classified (like heroin) as a Schedule I controlled substance by the US government, meaning it has no approved medical use. (There is a government-approved synthetic form of marijuana called Marinol available as a prescription pill for treating nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite, though advocates of the natural stuff say it is not as effective as smoked pot.)

Some, like David Evans, special adviser to the nonprofit Drug Free America Foundation of St. Petersburg, Fla., applaud the government’s view, saying marijuana has not gone through a rigorous US Food and Drug Administration approval process.

But that skepticism frustrates leading marijuana researchers like Dr. Donald Abrams, a cancer specialist at San Francisco General Hospital.

“Every day I see people with nausea secondary to chemotherapy, depression, trouble sleeping, pain,’’ he says. “I can recommend one drug [marijuana] for all those things, as opposed to writing five different prescriptions.’’

The tide seems to be turning in favor of wider medical use of marijuana. The Obama administration announced in March that it will end the Bush administration’s practice of frequently raiding distributors of medical marijuana. Thirteen states, including Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maine, now allow medical use of marijuana, according to Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates legalization of pot. Last week, however, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch vetoed legislation that would have legalized medical marijuana in that state.

Research on medical marijuana is hampered by federal regulations that tightly restrict supplies for studies. But there is a growing body of studies, much of it supportive of the drug’s medical usage, though some of it cautionary. Given the intense politics involved, it’s true, as Abrams puts it, that “you can find anything you want in the medical literature about what marijuana does and doesn’t do.’’

With that in mind, here’s an overview of what the research says about the safety and effectiveness of using marijuana to treat various ailments.

Pain: Marijuana has been shown effective against various forms of severe, chronic pain. Some research suggests it helps with migraines, cluster headaches, and the pain from fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome because these problems can be triggered by an underlying deficiency in the brain of naturally-occurring cannabinoids, ingredients in marijuana. Smoked pot also proved better than placebo cigarettes at relieving nerve pain in HIV patients, according to two recent studies by California researchers. Marijuana also seems to be effective against nerve pain that is resistant to opiates.

Cancer: The active ingredients in cannabis have been shown to combat pain, nausea, and loss of appetite in cancer patients, as well as block tumor growth in lab animals, according to a review article in the journal Nature in October 2003. But there’s vigorous debate about whether smoking marijuana increases cancer risk.

Some studies that have looked for a link between cancer risk and marijuana have failed to find one, including a key paper from the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of Southern California published in 2006. “We had hypothesized, based on prior laboratory evidence, including animal studies, that long-term heavy use of marijuana would increase the risk of lung and head and neck cancers,’’ said Hal Morgenstern, a coauthor and an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “But we didn’t get any evidence of that, once we controlled for confounding factors, especially cigarette smoking.’’

Research published by a French group this year and by Kaiser Permanente, a California-based HMO, in 1997 came to a similar conclusion.

But a state health agency in California, the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1996, recently declared pot smoke (though not the plant itself) a carcinogen because it has some of the same harmful substances as tobacco smoke. The active ingredient in marijuana can increase the risk for Kaposi’s sarcoma, a common cancer in HIV/AIDS patients, Harvard researchers reported in the journal Cancer Research in August 2007. And British researchers reported in May 2009 in Chemical Research in Toxicology that laboratory experiments showed that pot smoke can damage DNA, suggesting it might cause cancer.

The federal government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse says that it is “not yet determined’’ whether marijuana increases the risk for lung and other cancers.

Respiratory problems: Smoking one marijuana joint has similar adverse effects on lung function as 2.5 to 5 cigarettes, according to a New Zealand study published in Thorax in July 2007. A small Australian study published in Respirology in January 2008 showed that pot smoking can lead to one type of lung disease 20 years earlier than tobacco smoking.

Addictive potential: The National Institute on Drug Abuse says “repeated use could lead to addiction,’’ adding that some heavy users experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and sleep loss if they stop suddenly.

Mental effects: Cannabis may increase the risk of psychotic disorders, according to a 2002 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. And the national drug abuse agency warns that “heavy or daily use of marijuana affects the parts of the brain that control memory, attention, and learning.’’ A study of 15 heavy pot smokers published in June 2008 in the Archives of General Psychiatry showed loss of tissue in two areas of the brain, the hippocampus and amygdala, regions that are rich in receptors for marijuana and that are important for memory and emotion, respectively.

Vaporizing vs. smoking: The push now among proponents of medical marijuana is toward inhaling the vapor, not smoking. Vaporizing is a safe and effective way of getting THC, the active ingredient, into the bloodstream and does not result in inhalation of toxic carbon monoxide, as smoking does, according to a study by Abrams published in 2007 in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

Bottom line: From a purely medical, not political, point of view, my take is that if I had medical problems that other medications did not help and that marijuana might, I’d try it – in vaporized form.

Just as Marcy Duda does. “You use it as you need it. You can be normal. You can function,’’ she says. “I don’t get high. I get by.’’

By Judy Foreman | Source.

July 10, 2009-The legalization of marijuana has been a controversial topic for many years now. It remains to be illegal in much of the country, but Drug War Rethinking PotCalifornia is one state in which it is legal for medical purposes, as long as patients have a note signed from their doctor and buy the marijuana from a dispensary that is regulated. But this is upsetting to some government officials, including the federal government who regularly raid the dispensaries, and some local government officials who say 800 dispensaries in one city is too many. One city council member said that a dispensary near a high school looked “like an ice cream shop from the 1950s” with the amount of teenaged kids crowded around it.

Maybe a high school isn’t the place for a dispensary or any other avenue to sell drugs, but the use of marijuana by responsible adults should not be a criminal activity. Medical marijuana can be used as a viable treatment for cancer, Glaucoma, Depression, PMS, lack of appetite, Crohn’s Disease, migraines, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Alcoholism, Attention Deficit Disorder, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Hypertension, morning sickness (though no one will endorse the smoking of marijuana, or any other substance, by pregnant women), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, staph infections, Sickle Cell Anemia, Parkinson’s, and Sleep Apnea (snoring). Many more without a medical condition that would warrant their doctor to write a note specifying a need for the drug, feel that marijuana relaxes them after a hard day at work and one dispensary even set up a movie theatre in the shop where the patients could unwind and meet new people. There is even a dispensary selling marijuana online on social marketing websites like Twitter and Facebook that will deliver the drug free to Los Angeles residents who may not want to venture outside.

Marijuana is a relatively harmless drug and one that is a lifesaver to the many people who use it in its proper form. While there is always potential for abuse, alcohol used in an irresponsible way, as many people in the United States use it, is more harmful than marijuana used by responsible adults. Barney Frank and Ron Paul introduced legislation earlier this summer to legalize small amount of marijuana by adults, whether they would like to use it for medical or recreational purposes, and hopefully it will start to put an end to the billions that we spend on the drug war each year and the lives and businesses lost in the process of government nannyism. Source.