It's been 20 years since Canada's Supreme Court ruled Canadians had a constitutional right to use cannabis as medicine. It took 45 years, from 1972 to 2017, for the Canadian government to implement the Le Dain commission's recommendations to decriminalize use, possession, and cultivation of cannabis for recreational (or "personal") purposes. On the way to legalization, the two usages have become intertwined.
When medical marijuana was first legalized, one of the oddest phenomena was government encouragement for patients to grow their own. That was only partly in response to demand from medical marijuana patients who didn't want to pay inflated medical marijuana prices. It was also an acknowledgment that supply was extremely limited.
The approval process to become a federally licensed seller was long and tortuous. Before the Cannabis Act came into force, medical marijuana patients were allowed to buy directly from federally licensed sellers. They were also allowed to grow a limited amount of weed themselves for medicinal purposes or to designate someone else to grow for them.
However, there were legal and policy blips along the way as the federal government tried to discourage home growing and move medical marijuana patients towards buying solely from licensed suppliers in 2013 and 2014.
But the rights of medical marijuana patients were upheld in the new Cannabis Act. The new regulations allow medical marijuana patients to possess “the lesser of 150 grams or a 30-day supply of dried cannabis (or the equivalent in cannabis product) in addition to the 30 grams allowed for non-medical purposes.”
Good News for Medical Marijuana Patients
The legalization of recreational marijuana has had benefits for both medical marijuana patients and recreational users. It's easier now than it has ever been to buy medical marijuana online in Canada from trusted suppliers. Almost all honour the tradition of offering products much cheaper when bought in bulk. That means it's also possible to take advantage of sales, bonuses, and rewards offered by online suppliers.
It also means that medical marijuana patients who choose not to smoke but use edibles, topicals, and concentrates for medical purposes have more options than ever before.
While medical marijuana is now legal in more than 30 U.S. states, the federal approach to legalization suggests the war on drugs isn't over yet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only approved two cannabinoids for medical use, dronabinol and nabilone. They can mitigate nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and stimulate appetite for those suffering from wasting illnesses, including AIDS and eating disorders.
The announcement that Canada was going to legalize recreational cannabis use seems to have kick-started a long-overdue examination of the medical literature available, and a review of 28 randomized clinical trials between 1948 and 2015 was recently completed.
Among the conclusions from this literature review is that there is evidence that marijuana is effective in treating chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity resulting from multiple sclerosis.
But the literature review concludes, “Medical marijuana is used to treat a host of indications, a few of which have evidence to support treatment with marijuana and many that do not. Physicians should educate patients about medical marijuana to ensure that it is used appropriately and that patients will benefit from its use.”
Luckily, more and more physicians are listening to their patients, and the scientific study of medical marijuana and its benefits is slowly increasing. Patients are telling their doctors that medical marijuana, especially CBD, can help with insomnia and anxiety and treat potentially life-threatening conditions such as childhood epilepsy. The dramatic improvement of Dravet syndrome patients treated with the CBD-dominant strain Charlotte's Web has had a profound effect on medical practitioners' attitudes to the use of medical marijuana.
Benefits of Medical Marijuana
As our population ages and our median age rises, which has been happening steadily for the last 50 years, so do levels of chronic pain. Some of our joints were poorly designed for our lifestyles and lifespans. Increased life expectancies and wait times for knee and hip replacement surgeries can leave patients demobilized and in pain for years before surgery. That's before we consider post-operative discomfort that can last six months or more.
We need to find non-addictive, non-lethal solutions for chronic pain sufferers, and this is where medical marijuana shines. Both far safer and cheaper than most opiates, medical marijuana for pain relief can also replace nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen. NSAIDs are affordable and effective, but they can eventually cause liver, kidney, or stomach problems. There's also an increased need to monitor NSAID use by patients over 65. These drugs can cause potential interactions with other medications prescribed to seniors.
Medical marijuana to treat nerve pain is a much-needed alternative to other options like Neurontin and Lyrica, whose "common" side effects are memory loss, dizziness, and drowsiness, and weight gain. And the addictive and sedative effects of opiates are well known, while nerve pain sufferers often say opiates merely blunt the edges of the pain they experience.
Other anecdotal evidence suggests that medical marijuana is an effective muscle relaxant, lessens Parkinson’s tremors, and helps patients manage many chronic pain conditions, including fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and interstitial cystitis.
Medical Marijuana and More Research
Current research is looking at the use of medical marijuana to mitigate the effects of PTSD, an epidemic whose proportions we may only be beginning to grasp. The use of medical marijuana to treat conditions as diverse as Crohn's disease and insomnia, as well as neuroscientific and psychological conditions like anxiety and depression, is still in its infancy.
Limited research on the use of cannabis and cannabinoids in the U.S. is now considered a public health risk. Both regulatory and supply barriers to research impede the advancement of cannabis and cannabinoid research and make it difficult to "address specific research questions on the health effects of cannabis use.
Luckily, while we wait for science to confirm anecdotal evidence, there are lots of options for those who want to order medical marijuana online.
Keywords: cannabis, medical marijuana
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