Medical marijuana is gaining momentum worldwide as a natural medicine that provides safe alternatives to treatment by toxic chemicals.
In recent years a wealth of sound scientific information has become available to support the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Many countries and states now recognize the legitimacy of marijuana as a therapeutic medication.Individuals with serious or life threatening diseases unresponsive to traditional therapies should be permitted to avail themselves of this therapeutic option.
Marijuana, the common name for Cannabis sativa, is a plant which contains more than 400 separate chemicals. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is the principal psychoactive component of marijuana. However, other chemicals, in addition to the cannabinoids, may be responsible for some of the effects of marijuana.
The prestigious Institute of Medicine, an organization chartered by the National Academy of Sciences, obtained a grant from the Office of the National Drug Control Policy to study the data concerning the medical use of marijuana. In 1999 they published an objective analysis of the scientific data relating to the effects of marijuana. Reviewers from such prestigious institutions as Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, Stanford University, and a host of other universities were enlisted in order to maintain objectivity. They evaluated all of the data relating to the medical use of marijuana, and are considered the gold standard for objective analysis. Some of their conclusions are presented below.
According to the Institute of Medicine, “the most encouraging clinical data on the effects of cannabinoids on chronic pain are from three studies of cancer pain.” They noted that cancer pain may be caused by a number of problems, and that it may be severe and persistent. Often, it is not effectively treated with opiods, such as morphine. However, in a well designed, double-blind, placebo controlled study Noyes found that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most active ingredient in marijuana, produced significant analgesia in this hard to treat group of patients. None of the study patients developed nausea or vomiting, which are common side effects with morphine, and other narcotics. Most of the patients had an increase in appetite, which can be very beneficial for cancer patients. Most pain killers have no effect on appetite, and many can cause a decrease in appetite. The Institute of Medicine stated “In conclusion, the available evidence from animal and human studies indicates that cannabinoids can have a substantial analgesic effect.”