Despite the fact that 29 States and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, speculation continues to dominate arguments regarding the efficacy of the herb in the field of medicine.
What cannot be disputed, however, is that cannabis has been used to treat a wide range of ailments for at the least the last 3,000 years. But this hasn’t stopped the Food and Drug Administration from digging in its heels – the FDA does not believe that marijuana is effective or safe to use as a medical treatment.
While this rift remains, no one can deny the medical breakthroughs that have been made using weed as a treatment for many debilitating health conditions and perhaps the most exciting of these have been in the field of cancer and epilepsy.
Is medical marijuana good or bad?
Scientific studies reveal that marijuana alleviates nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Smoking weed can also help to fight these chemo-related symptoms.
But what is even more exciting is that research proves that marijuana can retard or actually kill off the growth of certain cancer cells.
On the other side of the coin, there have been human studies that have revealed that while cannabinoids (a marijuana compound) are safe to use, they are not effective in either controlling or curing cancer.
The use of marijuana in the treatment of epilepsy, on the other hand, has made huge strides, particularly in controlling multiple daily seizure episodes in children. Dravet syndrome is a potentially killer ailment with a one in five life expectancy of sufferers not reaching the age of 20 years.
A study of children between the ages of two to 18 suffering from the syndrome revealed that marijuana reduced their seizures by 50 percent, while in three of the children seizures were stopped dead in their tracks. Side-effects, however, were fatigue, fever and vomiting.
So, what other medical conditions can marijuana help to treat?
The National Academies of Sciences has found some evidence that indicates an increased risk of testicular cancer. However, evidence cannot substantiate any link between the use of cannabis and an increased risk of most cancers.
No studies have been able to prove that smoking pot can be attributed to lung capacity or an increase I asthma or obstructive pulmonary disease.
While marijuana has been hailed as a treatment for multiple sclerosis, scientific studies have found only modest positive effects. They say that the short-term use of oral cannabinoids, in other words ingesting pot, may improve spasticity but remain modest.
Depression, PTS and social anxiety
As far as mental illness is concerned, the findings of a studythat appeared in the Clinical Psychology Review cautioned that weed isn’t an appropriate treatment solution for conditions such as bipolar and psychosis but conceded that it could relieve symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress.
Alcoholism and drug addiction
An article that appeared in the Clinical Psychology Review admitted that weed can help drug and alcohol addicts. On the other hand, the National Academies of Sciences argues that marijuana can stimulate drug addiction.
Chronic pain affects more than 25 million American adults. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has assessed in excess of 10,000 scientific studies on the medical benefits and/or the adverse effects of marijuana and has found that products containing cannabinoids are effective chronic pain relievers.
Mental health problems
While regular marijuana users are believed to run the increased risk of bipolar disorder, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has indicated that evidence is limited when it comes to people with no prior history of the condition. However, there is some evidence that indicates that regular “weedsters” are more prone to suicidal thoughts and depression. While scientists say that the frequent use of marijuana can increase the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia, they admit that such sufferers display improved learning and memory skills if ingesting weed on a regular basis.
So what is the final verdict?
Evidence would suggest that marijuana has both good and bad qualities. What is clear, however, is that more money should be ploughed into medical research to determine the values or otherwise of a substance that is growing in acceptance and stature. This research, however, will continue to be retarded by the continued enforcement of restrictions imposed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.