Medicinal Benefits of Marijuana

Cannabis preparations have been used as medicinal agents for thousands of years described in a medical context by
the Chinese emperor Shen Nung in 2700 BCE to treat beriberi, gout, malaria, rheumatism and numerous other conditions.1 Cannabis was cultivated in Europe and Asia as a fiber plant and ultimately became a central nonconsumable crop in colonial and postrevolutionary America. George Washington is believed to have smoked hemp to relieve tooth pain. In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte’s army returned to France from an unsuccessful Egyptian campaign with soldiers who carried extensive knowledge of the plant. Napoleon’s scientists were amongst the first Western Europeans to study cannabinoid effects methodically; two of them, Silvestre de Sacy and P.C. Rouyer, published papers on cannabinoids touching off a new round of medical inquiry.1 Use of marijuana medicinally is now more prevalent and relevant than any time in history. THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, was isolated in 1964. The endocannabinoid regulatory system was discovered in rats in 1988 and subsequently identified and manipulated in humans in the early 1990’s. The scientific plausibility for cannabis as Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring receptors in our brains. They work like neuron messengers and are released when needed for pain, etc. Similar in structure to the cannabinoids in cannabis, they bind to the same receptors (CB1, CB2). Simply speaking, the human system is pre-wired to receive cannibinoid compounds. Cannabis can have over 60 identified cannibinoid compounds, depending on the strain and the potency. Endocannabinoids are crucial to bioregulation. With scientific evidence suggesting their role in inflammation, insulin sensitivity, and fat and energy metabolism, inhibition of endocannabinoids may be a tool in reducing the prevalence of metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, modulation of the endocannabinoid system may be a cure for more chronic neurologic and immune conditions. Some of these substances have been produced synthetically, including: • Marinol, a synthetic THC, is a CB1 and CB2 receptor agonist that has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as an antiemetic for chemotherapy and an appetite stimulant for persons with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). • Cesamet is a synthetic analogue of THC that has been FDA approved as an antiemetic in chemotherapy patients in whom all other therapy has failed. Unapproved use is employed in patients with upper motor neuron syndrome who have spasticity-related pain not controlled by conventional treatment • Acomplia /Zimulti is currently being sold in the United Kingdom, Germany, and a few other countries around the world under the name Acomplia, as an anti-obesity drug. Further investigation into this exciting field promises to shed insights into the mechanisms of health and disease and
Current Studies2
Clinical research into the therapeutic value of cannabinoids has proliferated – there are now an estimated
20,000 the scientific literature analyzing marijuana and its constituents — so too has investigators' understanding of cannabis' remarkable capability to combat disease. Whereas researchers in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s primarily assessed cannabis' ability to temporarily alleviate various disease symptoms — such as theassociated with cancer chemotherapy — scientists today are exploring the potential role of cannabinoids Of particular interest, scientists are investigating cannabinoids' capacity to moderate autoimmune disorders such as well as their role in the treatment of neurological disorders such aaa.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease.) In fact, in 2009, the American Medical Association (AMA) resolved for the first time in the organization's history "that marijuana's status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines." Investigators are also studying thactivities of cannabis, as a growing body of preclinical and clinical data concludes that cannabinoids can reduce the spread of specific cancer cells via apoptosis (programmed cell death) and by the inhibition of angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels). Arguably, these latter findings represent far broader and more significant applications for cannabinoid therapeutics than researchers could have imagined some Safety in Medicine3
As much of the medical marijuana discussion has focused on the safety of marijuana, a study was conducted in 2005 to find the number of deaths caused by marijuana compared to the number of deaths caused by 17 FDA-approved drugs. Twelve of these FDA-approved drugs were chosen because they are commonly prescribed in place of medical marijuana, while the remaining five FDA-approved drugs were randomly selected because they are widely used and recognized by the general public. Jan. 1, 1997 was chosen as the starting date as it is the beginning of the first year following the Nov. 1996 approval of the first state medical marijuana laws. The counting ends as of June 30, 2005 to provide a uniform end-date to the various reports. Summary statistics of the FDA Adverse Event Reports: • There were 11,687 deaths from the 17 FDA studied drugs in this period 625 due to Anti-emetics (anti vomit). These include Compazine, Reglan, Marinol, Zofran, Anzemet, 174 due to Anti-spasmodics. These include Baclofen, Zanaflex 2295 due to Anti-psychotics. These include Haldol, Lithium, Neurontin 8593 due to ‘other popular drugs’. These include Ritalin, Wellbutrin, Adderall, Viagra, Vioxx Safety in Population Usage4
Another prevalent discussion of medical marijuana availability is Teen usage. A study was done in 2009 based on the most recently available data (from 2006) of teen usage in States with legal medical marijuana access and those without. The statistics include then 10 states (AK, CA, CO, HI, ME, MT, NV, OR, VT, WA). Findings include: Teen usage had dropped over this period – 1.1% in states without legal marijuana and .51% in states In Colorado, where legalization occurred in 2000, teenage usage dropped in the report period Only 2 ‘legal’ states with increases in the period were Maine, and Vermont (3.70%, 1.68%). One of the biggest increases in usage was in the ‘illegal’ state of DE which rose to the #1 usage state The Net Effect in all the ‘legal’ states was a drop in usage of 10.29%. One would surmise, then, that the availability of marijuana via dispensaries, clubs, etc. and the idea of it being presented in advertising as medicinal has not created a significant increase in usage by the teen population during this As a provider of services to the local medical marijuana industry, Colorado Mobile tests plant substances for levels of THC, CBD and CBN (most common cannibinoids). By providing the dispensaries, caregivers and growers with this information, patients can choose their medicine for the properties and qualities they need for their particular situation. The medical benefits are being aggressively investigated, albeit mostly outside the US. Medicinal marijuana patients deserve to be able to purchase their products in a safe, regulated, controlled and known environment. 1) Cannabinoids for Pain Management, Adam Thalera , Anita Guptaa, Steven P. Cohenb, Pain Management Division, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pa., bPain Management Division, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md., and cDepartment of Surgery, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., USA 2) Recent Research on Medical Marij 3)


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