Saturday, May 11, 2013

Treatment of Disease with Cannabis and Restrictions to Research


Since the medicalization of cannabis in seventeen states, the number of disorders and diseases that have been legitimately found to respond to the use of medical marijuana has grown exponentially.  While the medical community originally assigned those with Cancer and AIDS as most benefited, and therefore the first to be prescribed medical marijuana, other diseases quickly followed, such as Hepatitis and Multiple Sclerosis.

Only because of social media has the anecdotal evidence of the many diseases helped by cannabis become so prolifically available.  In fact, many social phenomenons have been discovered through the study of social media. Some studies claim that the largest demographic of social media is the 30+ age group, which is also the age group most likely to be parents of school-age children.  Therefore, the largest number of "social" posts would be related to the lives of this demographic. On searching the internet, it is obvious that social media goes beyond Facebook and Twitter and into very specific issues, including medical information. 


Searching the term "ADHD BLOGS" on BING brings up nearly eleven million results.  Simply "ADHD" has nearly twenty six million results.  The search for "AUTISM BLOGS" resulted in 16.6 million responses.  That is 16 million social media sites for the collection of anecdotal data on Autism ( ) .  A search for "AUTISM" alone resulted in 42.2 million sites that discuss Autism.  According to the Autism Research Institute,  Marijuana has been used successfully to treat autism in many patients.  Their only warning to cannabis use is regarding the legality.

California's renewed medical distribution regulations in 2004 placed the determination of benefit at the discretion of the prescriber; Arizona's regulations allow for a strict schedule of qualifying diseases.  Until the regulation of cannabis is either removed or becomes universal (Federal), no standard usage and prescribing protocol can be implemented.



The lack of reliable research is one primary reason for the variance in states' prescribing regulations. "Current restrictions on marijuana research are absurd" wrote the editors of Scientific American.  Explaining the process, they argue: 
Any researcher attempting to study marijuana must obtain it through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The U.S. research crop, grown at a single facility, is regarded as less potent--and therefore less medicinally interesting--than the marijuana often easily available on the street. Thus, the legal supply is a poor vehicle for studying the approximately 60 cannabinoids that might have medical applications.

Even with medicalization, and even should state-level permission and funding be provided for such research, the working institution would be at risk of seizure of assets and prosecution by the Federal Government.  Still, the University of California hosts the Center for Medicinal Cancer Research (CMCR), a three year project funded by state legislation.  Just this week, the Governor of Arizona signed a bill into law allowing for Marijuana research at the three Arizona public universities (2013 Brewer signs...). Besides removing a regulation that prohibited marijuana on any of the universities, even if by a registered medical patient, the new law will allow University of Arizona physician Susan Sisley, to perform a rarely approved federal research project on the effect of cannabis on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  It is hoped this will pave the way for further federally approved research on cannabis treatment and other pschological and psychiatric disorders (2013 Arizona Governor...).  

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