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What does medical research say?
16. What are the healthcare benefits of medical marijuana treatment for patients with debilitating medical conditions?
Studies and testimonials show that patients have found relief from symptoms of debilitating medical conditions when treated with medical marijuana; hence, improving quality of life.
A few examples include: eliminating or significantly lessening seizures, inflammation, muscle spasticity, agitation of dementia symptoms, opioid dependence, severe nausea related to cancer treatment, and pain from nerve damage and other debilitating medical conditions.
Additionally, according to the American Cancer Society:
- A number of small studies of smoked medical marijuana found that it can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy.
- A few studies have found that inhaled (smoked or vaporized) medical marijuana can be helpful treatment of neuropathic pain (pain caused by damaged nerves).
- Smoked medical marijuana has also helped improve food intake in HIV patients in studies.
- Studies have long shown that people who took medical marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine.
- More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce the spread of some forms of cancer.
- There have been some early clinical trials of cannabinoids in treating cancer in humans and more studies are planned. While the studies so far have shown that cannabinoids can be safe in treating cancer, they do not show that they help control or cure the disease.
17. How does medical marijuana affect the opioid crisis in America?
A study by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) shows that opioid overdoses are as much as 25% lower in states where medical marijuana has been made available as an alternative to opioids compared with states without medical marijuana laws.
There are no reported deaths from a marijuana overdose; however, prescription-opioid overdoses continue to climb.
18. Why isn’t there more research regarding use of medical marijuana?
In order to perform the research needed to prove the benefits of medical marijuana in a way that is FDA approved, scientists would have to possess the plant, which is illegal under federal law. The biggest hurdle to performing rigorous, scientific research into the benefits of medical marijuana is the fact that it continues to be classified as a Schedule I substance by the federal government, which states that it has no medical benefits.
The American Medical Association is just one of many groups that are calling for a reclassification to Schedule II, which would open the door for more research to be performed and would acknowledge the drug’s medical benefits.
Marijuana is one of the only Schedule I drugs that the federal government does not allow to be produced for research by private labs. There is only one facility in the country that has a contract to grow marijuana for research (located in Mississippi).
The federal government requires FDA approval to take marijuana off the Schedule I list; yet, it will not allow the research necessary for the FDA to approve reclassification – even though public opinion has significantly turned regarding the acceptance of medical marijuana.