medical marijuana

  1. Medical marijuana can limit pain meds

    This one's bound to make some pretty big waves: Yet another new study backs marijuana for medicinal purposes in a big way.

    This time, researchers have found that pot can not only help beat pain -- as people who already take it for that purpose, legally and illegally, have been saying all along -- but it may even help steer patients away from dangerous and addictive painkillers.

    And that includes the meds responsible for some of society's biggest drug problems: opioid painkillers.

    Twenty-one chronic pain patients who were already taking either long-acting morphine or long-acting oxycodone were given marijuana vaporizers to use for five days -- in a hospital, where they could be carefully monitored in case any complications arose.

    Researchers were especially worried that the pot might boost levels of opioids in the blood to dangerous levels. In reality, it led to no changes at all -- while delivering 33 percent more pain relief to the morphine patients and 20 percent more pain relief to the oxycodone patients.

    The patients didn't experience any major side effects, beyond feeling "high" after getting their marijuana dose.

    No one in the study actually took fewer meds -- but since the patients were already growing more resistant to their opioid painkillers and got extra relief from marijuana, the indication is that eventually they could cut back on the meds if they were allowed to stick with the pot.

    Of course, the study does have its problems: It didn't have a placebo, for one. And it was small -- but size is almost always a problem when it comes to studies on medical marijuana.

    Researchers simply can't get the funding they need for bigger studies since marijuana isn't exactly popular with the folks who control the purse strings.

    But the studies we do have are pretty clear: Medical marijuana comes with some very real benefits... and minimal risk.

    Despite what you've heard, it's not even addictive in most cases. Sure, people can overdo it -- but that's a risk we already take each day with every drug already on the market (especially opioid painkillers).

    This isn't a popular opinion, but it's a scientific one -- not to mention a humane one: For some conditions, especially chronic pain, marijuana is safe and effective -- and that means it should also be legal.

  2. Feds light controversy over medical marijuana

    The U.S. Department of Justice has finally responded to a 2002 petition to reclassify marijuana as a medical treatment.

    Nothing like a sense of urgency, right guys?

    Of course, after sitting on this for nearly a decade, the department responded with the same old line -- ruling against medical marijuana under no uncertain terms.

    The DOJ even went as far as to state that "marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use in the United States, and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision."

    Sorry -- as serious as this is, I can't help but find that a little funny. Replace the word "marijuana" with the name of the useless Big Pharma med of your choice, and you might have something.

    Antidepressants, painkillers, and ADHD drugs all spring immediately to mind.

    In fact, studies have shown that medical marijuana is not only effective for many forms of pain, including cancer pain, it comes with few side effects -- unlike the dangerous and addictive opioid painkillers openly and legally abused across the country.

    Back in 1999, the Institute of Medicine -- a part of the National Academy of Sciences -- told Congress that pot can help keep pain and vomiting in check, and that even with all the risks we've come to associate with this stuff, it's worth a try when other meds have failed.

    The FDA has even approved of at least two synthetic drugs based on the ingredients in marijuana -- which only proves
    that if marijuana itself could be patented by Big Pharma, it would have been approved ages ago.

    After all, the science is there: In addition to cancer pain, it's famously effective against glaucoma -- and studies have
    shown that it can fight inflammation, mental illness, Alzheimer's disease and more.

    One review last year found that marijuana can even help multiple sclerosis patients with both pain and mobility issues. (Read about it here.)

    But this is a political battle, not a scientific one -- and all the research in the world won't convince those who are against it otherwise.

    The one bright side to the Department of Justice's recent ruling is that medical marijuana backers can now take the issue to court -- and maybe now we won't have to wait a decade to see the science finally overcome the politics.

  3. Marijuana use for MS

    A new review finds that the key ingredients in pot could help multiple sclerosis patients get some relief from muscle spasms and help improve mobility.

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