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National Academy of Sciences Acknowledges Medicinal Benefits of Cannabis

CannabisCoverFinalOn January 12, 2017 The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published one of the most comprehensive reports of recent research regarding the health effects of cannabis. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research produced nearly 100 conclusions based off scientific evidence, and in certain cases finding “conclusive or substantial evidence” of the therapeutic effects of cannabis. At the top of the list, the study found conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabinoids are effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults. Chronic pain is a qualifying condition for New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program only if it’s a symptom of cancer or HIV/AIDS.

Although chronic pain is currently limited to these restrictions, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, lupus and Lyme disease are of the 45 conditions that the Medicinal Medical Review Panel is set to consider as additional qualifying conditions.

Other conditions that the Academies’ report found cannabis effective for are chemotherapy-induced nausea/vomiting and improving patient reported multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms.

The report also found moderate evidence of effective cannabinoid treatment for improving short-term sleep outcomes related to sleep apnea syndrome, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis. Limited evidence showed cannabinoids to be effective for improving symptoms of Tourette syndrome, symptoms of anxiety and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

In terms of cancer, the report showed evidence suggesting that cannabis smoke doesn’t increase the risk for cancers that are often associated with tobacco use.

The National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that provide objective guidance for policy makers through scientific evidence.

The issue of cannabis and health has been brushed aside by the National Academies since 1999, but substantial effort was put into this report with over 10,000 scientific abstracts reviewed in preparation.

Acknowledgements were made in the report that potential harm from cannabis may be noted related to risks for adolescents, pregnant women and those who operate motor vehicles shortly after ingesting cannabis. National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) says, “In each of these cases, these risks may be mitigated via marijuana regulation and the imposition of age restrictions in the marketplace.”

The committee that authored the report recommended more research to be done on the beneficial and harmful effects of cannabis, and emphasized the drug’s classification as a Schedule I substance being a barrier impeding such research.

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March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

ms-robbon-blue-orangeIn light of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, we want raise awareness about the scientific evidence showing cannabis as a palliative treatment for Multiple Sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis [MS], as we know it, is an autoimmune disease that results in the slowing of the speed of signals sent from the central nervous system to the peripheral nervous system and can even result in irreversible damage to the nerves in the central nervous system that were once protected by the myelin sheath. This condition can leave a patient suffering from a wide range of symptoms including fatigue, depression, weakness, spasms, spasticity, pain, sleep disturbances and more.

One of the largest studies on the effect of medical cannabis on patients with MS stated that patients who used Tetrahydrocannabinol reported improvements in pain, sleep quality, spasms and spasticity.

There is even evidence that suggests that cannabinoids may have immunomodulatory effects, and have therapeutic benefits in treating MS. 1

Current studies show that patients who perceive initial benefits from their cannabis medication experienced persisting positive effects into extended trials without tolerance.[1]

Of a small group of MS patients who participated in an abrupt interruption of their cannabis medication, there was no consistent withdrawal symptoms and five patients had to resume taking their medication due to reemergence of symptoms.

Symptomatic medications often do not provide adequate relief and may have toxic effects that can worsen a patient’s already diminished quality of life.1 These effects can be weighed in comparison to cannabis’s relatively limited side effects.

For more information on research studies relating to cannabis click here.

 

[1] Hazekamp, Arno, and Franjo Grotenhermen. “Review on Clinical Studies with Cannabis and Cannabinoids 2005-2009.” 5.Special Issue (2010): 1-21. Print.

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