Monday, January 28th, 2019
What gets lost in all the talk about the recreational legalization of cannabis is the reason we got here in the first place: the health benefits of medical cannabis.
Many people have mixed feelings about medical cannabis – and for good reason. For decades, marijuana has been lumped together with “the drug culture” which includes heroin, cocaine, and other hard drugs. Now it is legal, yet some still associate it with the seediness of other drug use. Even medical cannabis, in the United States especially, is often prescribed with a wink.
Medical Cannabis Can Treat Many Medical Conditions
Medical professionals hate to use the word “miracle drug” for good reason. That places it in the same category as fantastical stories from the Fountain of Youth or cure-alls.
But cannabis does have many medical uses, even if they aren’t all completely understood. For real sufferers of certain diseases and health conditions, medical cannabis can help where other medications have not. Scientifically, the concept of plant-based medications occurring naturally is not a stretch – many of today’s pharmaceuticals are derived from or synthetically reproduced compounds found in nature. Cannabis alone has over 400 different chemical compounds, of which about a quarter are classed as “cannabinoids” that act on certain receptors in the brain.
One cannabinoid is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound with the psychoactive effects that give users a distinctive “high.” Another is Cannabidiol or CBD. This has many medical uses – some for serious conditions. However, because cannabis has been illegal for so long, modern medicine has not had a chance to thoroughly research its medical benefits.
Partial List of Conditions Treated Today with Medical Cannabis
Here are some of the conditions it has helped, as shown through scientific research and/or a large amount of anecdotal evidence:
- Ease pain caused by cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), arthritis, and other conditions
- Reduce nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy
- Relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including tremors
- Relieve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related diseases including anxiety
- May actively fight dementia-related diseases by reducing inflammation, reducing oxygen build-up associated with dementia, and providing neuroprotective effects
- Increase appetite and decrease weight loss in HIV patients and others
- Reduce convulsions, pain, inflammation, and nausea in people with Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBD), and other bowel diseases
- Reducing pain and inflammation in patients with lupus
- Work as a treatment for hepatitis C, especially as a combination therapy with other medications
- Reduce the number of monthly seizures in those suffering from epilepsy
- Reduce a number of different types of muscle spasms
- Provide a neuroprotective effect after ischemic stroke
- Reduce inflammation after concussion, thereby reducing the number and severity of long-term effects
- Treat patients with PTSD and other related conditions in combination with psychological counselling
- Treat patients with anxiety and paranoia
There is some evidence to suggest that medical cannabis can be used in other – quite remarkable – ways. Such as reducing cancer growth and even killing certain cancers, improving lung health, and reducing nicotine cravings in smokers. However, these areas require much more research before firm conclusions can be drawn.
Side Effects of Medical Cannabis
One of the greatest benefits of medical cannabis is what it doesn’t do. CBD has few side effects, and those side effects are relatively mild. Some users have reported diarrhea, dizziness, abdominal pain, and slight allergic reactions. Further, cannabis has only mild interactions with other medications, for the most part slightly increasing or slightly decreasing the effects of other drugs.
Most side effects of medical cannabis seem to be related more to contamination with fungal or bacterial organisms, pesticides, or other toxins. In Canada, Health Canada’s licensed producer (LP) system provides tremendous oversight and regulation – similar to that of other pharmaceuticals – to reduce the risk of contamination.
The Future of Medical Cannabis Research
Research is difficult given that cannabis is illegal throughout most of the world. Within Canada for example, cannabis researchers had to go through a long and complicated process to obtain samples before full legalization. Today, the future of medical cannabis research is much brighter in Canada with cannabis legalization. Licensed producers (LPs) in Canada can freely provide cannabis for research.
Further, Health Canada’s licensed producer system provides safe, secure production that reduces the risk of contaminants, reduces the illegal markets, and helps keep cannabis out of the hands of youth.
Licensed Producers Canada
The Licensed Producers Canada website provides tons of information on cannabis including a full list of licensed producers (LPs) in Canada, news about the cannabis industry, and other resources. You can also contact us directly with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.