Medical marijuana has grown in popularity over the past decade. Many people have come to see it as a safe alternative to traditional prescription drugs. It is not uncommon for people who are in pain or simply looking to alleviate stress and anxiety from their lives to turn to medical marijuana. There are many medical benefits of cannabis that can aid in alleviating symptoms such as nausea, pain, stress, and insomnia. Even more exciting is the fact that new uses for cannabis are being discovered almost every day!
Medical marijuana has likely become so popular because it has shown a lot of promise when it comes to treating certain conditions. It is important to learn as much as you can about medically prescribed cannabis before making any decisions about using it. If you plan on learning more about this subject and exploring your options, keep reading! This article covers everything you need to know about using marijuana medicinally as well as how to get it if that’s something you might be interested in one day.
What is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana is a term for derivatives of the Cannabis sativa plant that are used to relieve the symptoms of certain medical conditions. It is also known as medical cannabis. There are more than 100 cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant. Every cannabinoid has a distinct physiological effect. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the key medicinal compounds. When people smoke marijuana or eat foods that contain it, they get “high.” THC is the main cause of this euphoric feeling.
Types of Cannabinoids – CBD vs THC
The two main types of cannabinoids are CBD and THC. CBD stands for Cannabidiol, which is one of the many components of cannabis that has shown promise in treating pain. Many people use CBD oil to treat symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, epilepsy, and more. However, it is important to note that while CBD is safe and has many benefits, it is not a miracle drug. It is simply one of many compounds within the cannabis plant that can potentially treat various medical conditions.
CBD can be sourced in gel form, gummy form, oil, supplement, and extract form. It’ll also be offered in the form of a tincture or in a capsule. Both CBD and THC interact with your endocannabinoid system, but they have different effects. Smoking marijuana that contains THC produces the high sensation, as well as oils, edibles, tinctures, capsules, and more. THC only comes from marijuana, whereas CBD can come from hemp or marijuana. Hemp and cannabis both come from the same plant, Cannabis sativa plant.
History of Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana has been used for thousands of years for the treatment of a wide range of medical ailments; however, it was not until the late nineteenth century that the idea of using marijuana became more stigmatized. Despite the fact that marijuana has notoriously been used medicinally to treat pain, nausea, anxiety, and inflammation, this was a time when people believed that cannabis was harmful and caused a wide range of undesirable effects.
Around 2-5% of the population of the United States during the early 1900s was seriously addicted to the strong painkiller, morphine. Due to the large number of people struggling with morphine addiction across the country, the United States government created the Food and Drug Administration in 1906 in an attempt to limit drug abuse.
At the time– what would become the powerful FDA– was only focused on controlling the distribution of opium and morphine, but a few years later drug use became a legal crime and shortly after The Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937, outlawing the possession or transfer of cannabis throughout the United States, except for medical and industrial purposes, in which an expensive excise tax is required.
In 1969, the Supreme Court struck down the Marijuana Tax Act because it violated the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. As a result, the Controlled Substances Act was enacted as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970; however, Regan was elected the following decade and enforced strict regulations against drugs, heavily criminalizing marijuana. It wasn’t until 1996 that a state used their individual rights to legalize marijuana. Since California spearheaded the state legalization of marijuana, many other states have followed suit.
States Where Medical Marijuana Is Legal
As of June of 2022, these are the states that have legalized medical marijuana in the United States, these states are:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
How Does Medical Marijuana Work in Alleviating Pain?
Noting that cannabinoid receptors are present in peripheral nerves that detect pain sensations in experimental animals, basic research indicates that cannabinoids block pain in peripheral nerves. More importantly, it appears that opioids and cannabinoids block pain through different pathways. If that is the case, marijuana-based drugs might be combined with opioids to prolong their pain-relieving ability while reducing their side effects.
Marijuana’s THC might interact with natural cannabinoid receptors to reduce pain sensation and signaling, as well as to temporarily relieve pain. CBD might help to stimulate the immune system and reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are involved in pain signaling. Rheumatoid arthritis might be treated with marijuana’s anti-inflammatory properties as well.
How to Take Medical Marijuana?
There are many ways to ingest medical marijuana. You can:
- Inhale it– The primary advantage of inhaling marijuana medicine is that the onset of action occurs quickly, making it possible for a patient to adjust the dose easily for maximum benefit. It is administered to the lungs and absorbed through the capillaries into the bloodstream. It takes 1-2 seconds to inhale and within 5-10 minutes you will begin to see the effect. If more effect is desired, the 1-2 second inhalation can be repeated and the effect reevaluated in 5-10 minutes. As the patient becomes more accustomed to their dose, it is not uncommon for them to develop an understanding of their dosage needs. Smoking or vaping marijuana is effective for 1-5 hours, whereas when you take an oral dose it lasts considerably longer.
- Take it Orally– Medical marijuana can be swallowed rather than inhaled, which may make it more desirable to patients. Patients vary in their preferences, but 2 to 5 mg of THC is a good starting point. Medical marijuana ingested orally takes 1 to 2 hours to start working, but its effects last 6 to 8 hours. Patients should adjust their doses every few days.
- Apply it Topically– Localized problems such as pain or skin issues can be effectively treated using this method of administration. It can take up to one hour to reach peak effectiveness and the duration of benefit varies. Because of its lack of psychoactive effects, this approach is favored by many.
- Rectally– Patients with swallowing difficulties or severe nausea and vomiting may find rectal administration to be advantageous. It is, however, not the most common mode of administration.
Future of Medical Marijuana in the U.S.
Despite the fact that marijuana is illegal under federal law as a Schedule I drug, the U.S. marijuana industry was worth $13.6 billion in 2019 with 340,000 jobs devoted to the handling of plants, according to New Frontier Data. As legalization efforts at home and abroad intensify, investors, manufacturers, and researchers are paying more attention to marijuana. Marijuana is the world’s most widely cultivated, trafficked, and consumed drug currently.
How is Medical Marijuana Prescribed?
According to the Medical Excuse Marijuana Standard of Care Guidelines in the National Library of Medicine, before a physician suggest cannabis as medicine to a patient, they must ask the following questions:
- Have you documented that the patient has tried other conventional medications to treat his or her condition and they have failed? Have you informed the patient (by his or her signed informed consent) about the medical hazards of marijuana—at least including infection, pulmonary complications, impaired immunity, and impaired driving skills?
- Is research being conducted or will the monitoring of marijuana use be under the supervision of an investigational review board?
- Has the patient become addicted to or abused illegal drugs such as marijuana or other psychoactive drugs?
- Does your clinic routinely test patients for other illegal drugs before prescribing marijuana, and has it excluded patients from being prescribed marijuana if they are found to be using other drugs? How is the testing done?
Trust the Experts
Addiction and mental health disorders can affect anyone. If you or a loved one are currently living with one of these issues or are curious about medical marijuana, help is available! We encourage you to reach out to the professionals at Oasis Recovery to learn more about our personalized treatment programs and mental health services. Oasis Recovery was founded from firsthand experience of addiction and recovery, with a mission of providing a space where people can heal from addiction in a compassionate, creative, open-minded, and heart-centered environment. We believe recovery is always possible. Our experts work with you to design a treatment plan that fits your needs. Common treatment programs include:
- Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
- Full-time Addiction Treatment on campus
- Aftercare Services
Contact us today for more information about how our programs and services can help you get your life back on track. You no longer have to struggle with this on your own. We are here to help.