Medical Marijuana & Pain Relief, Scientific Support Data

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    Below are citations with appropriate references to give credit to those that have provided medical marijuana research data information with unique supporting and correlated data.  It appears obvious, or apparent within these controlled studies and citations, cannabis shows a unique medicinal composition with unique pain blocking properties that could replace in part, or whole other pain management prescriptions without the additional pharmaceutical health risks.  Standard prescription medications or outpatient services that ease pain, spasms and inflammation may be accomplished through medical marijuana use at a fraction of the cost.  The Compassionate Use Act, 1996 was established to provide physicians the ability to recommend chronic pain patients medical marijuana at first for cancer patients.  Through years of research science is seeing a whole range of potential use for cannabis as an alternative treatment for many types of chronic pain disease.

“Persistent and disabling pain can have numerous and sometimes multiple causes, including cancer; AIDS; sickle cell anemia; glaucoma, cancer, shingles, multiple sclerosis; defects or injuries to the back, neck and spinal cord; arthritis and other rheumatic and degenerative hip, joint and connective tissue disorders; and severe burns.  Pain is not a primary condition or injury, but rather a severe, frequently intolerable symptom that varies in frequency, duration, and severity according to the individual (Chronic Pain and Medical Marijuana, ASA PDF Brochure# 888-929-436.  See end of article for brochure details).

“A recent study conducted at University of California at Davis, 17 April 2008, 38 patients experiencing neuropathic pain from varying diseases; diabetes, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic pain, HIV/AIDS-related neuropathy, etc., were given marijuana cigarettes, some patients with zero% THC, 3.5% and 7%.  Students through each session took the same number of puffs to ensure uniformity.  Thereafter, it was determined marijuana reduced pain intensity significantly over a 5 hour period/per trial.  It should also be noted, memory tests and cognitive skills appeared to decline, but not more, or less significantly than narcotic pain killers (Complete Study, Contact MPP “Marijuana Policy Project Director of communications Bruce Mirken, 202-215-4205, or visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org).”

“The smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health….”  So began a 1995 editorial statement of Great Britain’s leading medical journal, The Lancet.  The long history of human use of cannabis also attests to its safety—nearly 5,000 years of documented use without a single death.”

“Substances similar to or derived from marijuana could benefit more than 97 million Americans who experience some form of pain each year (U.S. Society for Neuroscience, 1997).”

“The role that cannabis can play in treating chronic pain.  After nausea and vomiting, chronic pain was the condition cited most often to the IOM (Institute of Medicine) study team as a medicinal use for marijuana.”The study found that “basic biology indicates a role for cannabinoids [a group of compounds found in cannabis] in pain and control of movement, which is consistent with a possible therapeutic role in these areas. The evidence is relatively strong for the treatment of pain and intriguingly, although less well established, for movement disorder (Commissioned Study by the White House, by the Institute of Medicine, 1999).”

“Inhaled cannabis provides almost immediate relief with significantly fewer adverse effects than orally ingested Marinol (the only legal THC hemp extract pharmaceutical, DEA Class III authorized drug schedule prescription).  Inhalation allows the active compounds in cannabis to be absorbed into the blood stream with greater speed and efficiency. It is for this reason that inhalation is an increasingly common, and often preferable, route of administration for many medications.

“One problem with cannabinoids is that they are very fat-soluble, so that makes them very difficult to formulate the drugs into pills or injections.  One way that’s being looked at by some pharmaceutical companies is using the kind of inhaler that asthma sufferers use.” Smoking is obviously a big health hazard and scientists are looking at ways of delivering the drug to the body (ASA Americans for Safe Access, www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org).”

“Cannabis may also be more effective than Marinol because it contains many more cannabinoids than just the THC that is Marinol’s active ingredient. The additional cannabinoids may well have additional and complementary antiemetic (effective against vomiting and nausea) qualities. They have been conclusively shown to have better pain-control properties when taken in combination than THC alone (U.S. Society for Neuroscience Conclusion).”

    “The Compassionate Use Act passed in 1996 expressly provides that “chronic pain” is a condition for which physicians are authorized to recommend marijuana without threat or fear of punishment for providing a full range of treatment modalities to care for patients in pain.  However, Federal policy on medical cannabis is filled with contradictions.  Cannabis is a Schedule I drug, classified as having no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse, yet its most psychoactive component, THC, is legally available as Marinol and is listed in DEA Drug Schedule III Classification for physician prescriptions.  For those that don’t know, Class III prescriptions fall under the same legal prescribed DEA classification, such as Tylenol.  To add insult to injury an average month supply of Marinol will cost you ~$500.00.  A medical marijuana script-license provides you the right to produce and self medicate without the outrageous cost to alleviate chronic pain but has a double jeopardy possibility of imprisonment at the federal government’s discretion!  Is the government trying to figure out a way to make money by controlling a multi-billion dollar industry at the expense of suffering people in pain?  How much lower could we stoop as a nation?

    Currently, laws that effectively remove state-level criminal penalties for growing and/or possessing medical cannabis are in place in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.  Thirty-six states have symbolic medical cannabis laws (laws that support medical cannabis but do not provide patients with legal protection under state law).  Reference,  Compassionate Use Act, 1996 – Key organizations; Drug Enforcement Administration, (DEA) Federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Americans For Safe Access (ASA).

“By comparison, the side effects associated with cannabis are typically mild and are classified as “low risk.” Euphoric mood changes are among the most frequent side effects. Cannabinoids can exacerbate schizophrenic psychosis in predisposed persons. Cannabinoids impede cognitive and psychomotor performance, resulting in temporary impairment. Chronic use can lead to the development of tolerance. Tachycardia and hypotension are frequently documented as adverse events in the cardiovascular system. A few cases of myocardial ischemia have been reported in young and previously healthy patients. Inhaling the smoke of cannabis cigarettes induces side effects on the respiratory system. Cannabinoids are contraindicated for patients with a history of Cardiac ischemia.  In summary, a low risk profile is evident from the literature available. Serious complications are very rare and are not usually reported during the use of cannabinoids for medical indications (Chronic Pain and Medical Marijuana, ASA PDF Brochure# 888-929-4367).”

“Institute of Medicine, “Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety… All can be mitigated by marijuana… For patients, such as those with AIDS or undergoing chemotherapy, who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad spectrum relief not found in any other single medication (Marijuana and Medicine; Assessing the Science Base, 1999).”

“Where morphine fails, marijuana may work. That’s the major finding of British research into the pain caused by nerve injuries, a pain known to be somewhat resistant to morphine and similar drugs that are the gold standard for treating just about any other kind of serious pain.  It’s known that if you injure a nerve, the morphine receptors in the spinal cord disappear and that’s probably why morphine isn’t a very effective pain killer for such conditions as shingles, people who have had an amputation or perhaps if cancer has invaded the spinal cord (Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience Report & London’s Imperial College, Andrew Rice).”

“One of marijuana’s greatest advantages as a medicine is its remarkable safety. It has little effect on major physiological functions.  There is no known case of a lethal overdose; on the basis of Animal models, the ratio of lethal to effective dose is estimated as 40,000 to 1. By comparison, the ratio is between 3 and 50 to 1 for Secobarbital and between 4 and 10 to 1 for ethanol. Marijuana is also far less addictive and far less subject to abuse than many drugs now used as muscle relaxants, hypnotics, and analgesics.

The Chief legitimate concern is the effect of smoking on the lungs. Cannabis smoke carries even more tars and other particulate matter than tobacco smoke. But the amount smoked is much less, especially in medical use.  The technology Dr. Grinspoon imagined in 1995 now exists in the form of “vaporizers,” which are widely available through stores and by mail order.   (Journal of the American Medical Association, Lancet editorial, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, 1995).”

“There is indeed great concern in the medical community about the need to find better pain relief for damaged nerves, but that progress is being made (Dr. Kenneth Mackie, an associate professor in anesthesiology and physiology at the University of Washington in Seattle).”

“The use of medical cannabis has been endorsed by numerous professional organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Public Health Association, and the American Nurses Association. Its use is supported by such leading medical publications as The New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet.”

    Although I’ve cited main points on pain relief through cannabis use, there is much more information with regard to the legality, use, risk and benefits of such use.  I found this brochure (referenced below) very informative where I decided it and other scientific references would be best to highlight cannabis information in a citation format.  I highly recommend you read this report in its entirety if you believe cannabis use would benefit your chronic pain problem.  Below I’ve left references for you to further your research on the topic.

Most of the citations I listed above can be found in (Chronic Pain and Medical Marijuana Brochure#888-929-4367) put out by ASA (Americans for Safe Access), Free PDF report file: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/pain_brochure.pdf.  Brochure# 888-929-4367, ASA).

You can also make inquiries by mail to: Americans for Safe Access (ASA), 1322 Webster Street, Suite 402, Oakland, California 94612.  Visit their home page for much more information on current medical marijuana use, advocacy, dispensaries, legislation, etc., at www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org, or call ASA @ 1-888-929-4367.

    Be sure to check with your state public health division laws to find out more about medical marijuana use, grow site & use rights… e.g., possible zoning grow site, use, geography restrictions, limitations, etc.   State reciprocity, card issue and federal- state law use conflicts, etc.

 Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2009 Copyright, All rights reserved.  Mirror Athlete Enterprises Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your free eNewsletter.

About Marc Woodard

As a fit healthy lifestyle author and consultant, retired corporate employee and retired Army officer, I've spent many years taking care of my career goals and financial security.  It is now my time to give something back to my community. Without a healthy mind, body and spirit it is really difficult to move forward to achieve great things in life. To share information is something everyone of us are capable of doing. And to share fitness and health related information with your children is the best thing you could do for them and your community. Saving the health of our nation one person at a time is our goal. Learn more about Marc Woodard @ LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/marc-woodard-94003930/ Good health to you and your family.
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