Cannabis: A Second Look as the First Line of Treatment
Understanding Marijuana and its Applications
When it comes to revolutionary drugs and potential medical solutions; marijuana is beginning to become more than just a blip on the radar. As more critical research is being done on this potential drug; the evidence is becoming more and more apparent that it should be used as a first line of treatment. People have been fighting for this since around 1970. Known as the Father of Medical Marijuana; Robert Randall became the first legal medical marijuana smoker in the U.S since the prohibition of it in 1937 after he sued the federal government for arresting him for using cannabis to treat his glaucoma. The judge had the FDA set up the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program. This new drug program was essentially a trial run to test the medicinal properties of marijuana (if any). The program allowed a limited number of patients; including Randall, to use medical marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi. The daily use of 10 government-issued marijuana cigarettes preserved Randall's vision until his passing in 2001 at the age of 53 (due to some AID-related complications).
As a Schedule I controlled substance by the the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), marijuana is not a legal constituent for recreation or medicinal purposes. Categorized alongside heroin, LSD, and ecstasy; marijuana is described as a substance without any current accepted medical use. Schedule I is defined as substances/chemicals that are the most dangerous and can potentially cause severe psychological and/or physical dependence to the drug. However when compared to caffeine and alcohol, marijuana is still less addictive than either one of them.
Addictive Potential: Marijuana 9% Caffeine 11% Alcohol 15%
The statistics and the data are there, but when it comes to the acceptance of this revolutionary herb; people just seem to stay stagnant on their negative outlook. Nonetheless, the fault isn't on that of the people but on those informing the people. During the 1930s and 1940s, there was a lot of negative marijuana propaganda. Moves such as "Reefer Madness (1936)" and "Devil's Harvest (1942)" began to steer the public's' perception of marijuana and exemplify it was a terrible drug. It was simply lack of knowledge about the herb that caused all this commotion. The first in-depth study on the effects of marijuana in the U.S was in 1944 by the New York Academy of Medicine. The La Guardia Committee Report on Marijuana was written on behalf of a commission appointed in 1939 by New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. With five years of research, the report represented the following conclusions:
- The cost of marijuana is low and therefore within the purchasing power of most persons.
- The majority of marijuana smokers are blacks and latin-americans.
- The practice of smoking marijuana does not lead to addiction in the medical sense of the word.
- The use of marijuana does not morphine or heroine or cocaine addiction and no effort is made to create a market for these narcotics by stimulating the practice of marijuana smoking.
- Marijuana is not the determining factor in the commission of major crimes.
- Juvenile delinquency is not associated with the practice of smoking marijuana.
- (The publicity concerning the catastrophic effects of marijuana smoking in New York City is unfounded.)
The results from this report have paved the way for even more research on this natural herb. As more know knowledge is being spread on the substance, so is the trust within it. 23 states have passed laws allowing some degree of medicinal use of marijuana. 14 states have taken steps to decriminalize it to some degree and even two states (Colorado & Washington) have legalized it for recreational use. It's imperative that the general public gain the basic knowledge of this revolutionary herb so that it can be utilized to its fullest potential. This knowledge will allow the fear to subside and let trust in this substance lead the way towards progress.
First and foremost, cannabis (also known as marijuana/weed/grass...etc) is a naturally occurring substance. Basically, cannabis is a herb and is grown like any other plant in the environment. The plant itself contains over 400 chemical entities. However, the two main components of marijuana are THC (Tetrahydrocanabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). I'm sure THC rings a bell when cannabis is being discussed; because people tend to only focus on the THC when discussing the "potency" of marijuana. Nevertheless when it comes to the medicinal potential of this herb; it's wiser to focus on the CBD. THC is the main psychoactive component in cannabis and is responsible for the "high" feeling that most are familiar with. And though it does have some medicinal value, the side effects of anxiety, mood changes, and slight lack of coordination seem to be a bit of an inconvenience. The purpose of medicinal marijuana is to provide relief; not euphoria. So for that reason, it's more beneficial to focus our attention on CBD and it's potential. CBD is on the opposite end of the psychoactive spectrum and has many health implications. It has all the medicinal effects without he "stoned" feeling. The treatment options range from:
- Preventing/controlling convulsions
- Relieve some types of inflammation
- Reducing anxiety
- Relieving nausea
- Reducing insomnia
- (Recent studies have also showed it's potential to stop the growth of cancer by inhibiting cancer cell growth)
Recent decades of only high-THC cannabis being available, has given marijuana the stigma as negative drug with no medicinal value. But as more research being conducted every day and more knowledge is being spread about this herb, the potential to use it as a viable first line of treatment is every expanding. Now CBD-rich cannabis doesn't get one "high" makes it an appealing option for patients who are looking for treatment without the lethargy or dysphoria. And unlike most pharmaceutical drugs in the market with a set number of grams of medication per dosage; marijuana patients using these revolutionary strains of herb can titrate their own dosage precisely. The patients only intake as much of the herb as they need to relieve their symptoms or treat their ailments. When observing the cost/benefit ration for this substance, the cost of having untreated cancer far outweighs any carcinogens that may enter the body through intake of the herb. And those carcinogens are only taken in when the substance is inhaled. Increasing the knowledge of this substance will lead the way towards more viable revolutionary treatment options.