Medical Marijuana for Pain Relief
Easing the Pain: Why the Benefits of Marijuana for Pain Relief Should be More Widely Recognised
This summer, Gov. Chris Christie finally passed the bill allowing critically ill children in New Jersey access to medical marijuana. The revised bill, finally approved in August 2013, also approved the sale of edible marijuana products; but to pediatric patients exclusively. The move signified a perceptible shift in the government attitude towards the use of marijuana in the medical field, and marked a significant progression towards the acceptance of marijuana as an effective form of pain relief, regardless of age. However, the law doesn’t come without some restraints; including the stipulation that two practitioners, not one, must agree for the prescription of the drug. Despite being one of the 21 states that permits the possession and usage of marijuana for medicinal reasons, it would seem that there is still a lingering negative perception of the drug, and a hesitancy to allow freedom of access to all those who require it. Why is this the case? And should New Jersey explore marijuana more thoroughly as a serious alternative to other prescribed pain-relief treatments?
Marijuana as an Alternative to other Pain Relief Treatments
Regrettably, marijuana still maintains a certain reputation as a recreational drug; abused by the younger generation, seeking to ‘get stoned’, and to behave in an anti-social manner. This unfortunate perception is hugely contributory in the negative opinion of society with regards to the use of the drug for medicinal benefit. Remarkably, however, marijuana is documented in Chinese medical texts, dating as early as 1 A.D and recommended in other historical texts as being an effective treatment for vomiting, infections and hemorrhage. It still continues to be used widely in rural parts of China for a variety of medical conditions. In the US, marijuana is now gaining recognition for being an effective treatment for conditions such as schizophrenia, Alzheimers, IBS and Crohns disease and Tourettes syndrome, to name just a few; and is recognized as a highly effective method of dealing with pain for those with debilitating illnesses.
What are the Concerns?
For many, one of the most prominent concerns is that of addiction. Of course, as with any drug, addiction can be a problem; but it is important to bear in mind that this applies equally to the use of other prescribed drugs, such as sleeping pills or morphine, not to mention alcohol, which historically, has been a key problem in New Jersey. Of course, addiction is a serious issue, and for those suffering with addiction of any nature, including alcoholic addiction, there are some excellent establishments that specialize in New Jersey alcoholism treatment, and offer invaluable support and advice. Another concern that is often raised is the likelihood of the use of marijuana encouraging use of ‘harder’ drugs, such as heroin. However, there is no evidence to support the claim that medical use of marijuana has any contribution towards individuals using Class A drugs. In both these instances, it is generally considered that moderate, practitioner-approved usage of marijuana is completely safe and will not contribute to addiction or to progression on to Class A substances. Other lesser concerns listed include poor attention span and encouragement of anti-social behavior; but recent studies at Kins College, London, have dispelled these worries, and have actually cited the occasional use of marijuana as beneficial for memory and attention span. Indeed, the general perception of medical research bodies, such as the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, is that the benefits of the drug for those suffering with pain are considerable, and as a result, should be recognized more widely.
Who Exactly Benefits from Medical Marijuana?
The CMCR predominantly focuses their research on the following groups of suffers:
- Those suffering with weight loss or appetite suppression, as a result of conditions such as HIV.
- Those suffering with chronic pain, particularly neuropathic pain.
- Those who experience vomiting and nausea as a result of more aggressive cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy.
- Those with muscle spasticity, as a result of conditions such as MS.
With medicinal research bodies actively recommending the benefits of the drug to those suffering with these conditions, the hope is that the perception of marijuana will gradually alter; as more and more people appreciate the reality of the plant; as an effective, non-invasive method of treating pain, sickness and weight loss.