Amber Tibbits, RPT Student
RMSSAMT Student Essay Contest Winner

Whether it's talking about dispensaries in California, "stock talk" for a growing market, or a reference to a medical breakthrough marijuana continues to gain momentum throughout our culture. Multiple sources display cannabis, the plant responsible for the entire hullabaloo, as the beneficial drug that will eventually rid us of the opioid epidemic in which our society finds ourselves engulfed. Its increased usage continues to make headlines, for the good and the bad, and those seeking it out medically as a diffuser of pain and anxiety continue to hit walls of hesitation and legislation from providers.

Once referred to as Indian Hemp, cannabis carries with it a history of relief for conditions whose symptoms include seizures. A book written by W.R. Gowers, M.D. in 1881 wrote of patient who, at the age of 40, experience "fits for twenty-five years", until he came to see him in 1870 after treatment with bromide of potassium three times a day. Dr. Gowers noted significant improvement: the patient did not have seizures for months at a time when using cannabis, but found that his "fits" reoccurred once the patient was back on previously used medicine (Gowers, 1881). Now, the general public, many of them patients, are prodding the medical community and providers to give them more information about the benefits of cannabis as their child suffers from chronic seizures. They hear of stories like 11 -year-old Sam. Sam had taken two dozen different medications and was experiencing 100 seizures a day. After three days of treatment from an experimental CBD drug legalized in the UK, the child went from 100 to 1 seizure a day! With special permission from the FDA, the child was able continue treatment using the marijuana-based drug in the United States. At the time of the article, he had been seizure free for two years at the age of 17 (Rubin, 2018).

 

In addition to anti-convulsion benefits, cannabis seekers (specifically the CBD portion of it) relentlessly press to have the substance legalized and accessible as treatment for chronic pain, depression, and anxiety without the euphoria effect of the THC found in the recreational form of the same plant. Cannabis poses complications, however, when considering the negative side effects. It remains on the schedule 1 status, a label given to substances by the 1970 Controlled Substances Act for drugs "with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use" (Rubin, 2018). Only one farm with the University of Mississippi is approved to dispense cannabis for research purposes through the 1970 act, with limits the amount of cannabis that can be gathered, and tested in specifically focused studies geared to establish evidence-based medical benefits of the sought-after plant (Rubin, 2018; Carr, Schatman, 2019). Not only that, but the amount of  THC and CBD levels within cannabis does not match up to the overwhelming amount found in CBD dispensaries located throughout a growing number of states; such dispensaries are not regulated by the FDA, and their products can vary tremendously regarding how much CBD and THC levels are in their products.

 

Most consumers of medical cannabis can shop online or at their local dispensary like it's a self-service pharmacy. Some clinicians are leery at providing medical marijuana cards because patients may receive the initially prescribed dose, than visit a legal dispensary that sell products which do not have a regulated level of CBD. They are able to decide on their own if they prefer a larger or smaller dose, what kind of product carries it, how much they can use, etc. Much of the research published on the use of cannabis revolve around short-term effects, and it remains difficult to isolate a foundational set of benefits as cannabis has a variety of effects on different people with different ailments. Clinicians are left to forge ahead on their own while they are responsible for understanding state and federal laws (Peachman, 2018), They are reluctant to turn patients away, but realize that research continues to develop on the positive and negative effects of cannabis. Vast fluidity of the product makes it hard to regulate the substance and research its effects responsibly, yet the high demand for medical marijuana press legislators to pass laws, legalizing the substance regardless of the scientifi evidence to back it up.

 

Although medical marijuana in the form of CBD oil, E[pidiolex, etc. show promise for some medical ailments in today's world, an absence of adequate research remains present to thoroughly assess the craze that cannabis in public spheres. Legislation and support will continue to grow  for the product as social media and privately-funded companies race to be the leading distributor of the miracle "cure-all" drug. Addiction and a delay of cognitive development rest as only a few of the negative side effects of the substance (Zhang, 2915). At the rate at which the popularity of cannabis is rising, it will prove a difficult reversal if research back the cons rather than the pros of  this drug, just as opioids and cigarettes continue to be for many who are addicted to the once "healthy and popular" fad.    

References

Carr, D., & Schatman, M. (2019). Cannabis for chronic pain: not ready for prime time. America Journal of Public Health, 109(1), 50-51, Doi: 10.2105/ajph.2018.304593.

Gower, W.R. (1881), Epilepsy and other chronic convulsive disease: their causes, symptoms, and treatment. Toronto: Library of the Academy of Medicine, 271-272. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/epilepsyotherchr00goweuoft/

Metz, T.D., All., Allshouse, A.A., Hogue, C.J., et al. (2015). Maternal marijuana use, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and neonatal morbidity, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2015;2015: 707596

Peachman, R.R. (2018). Clinicians support medical marijuana use in children with cancer, but lack knowledge. JAMA. 2018; 319(9) : 825-853. Doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.0089

Rubin, R. The path to the first FDA-approved cannabis-derived treatment and what comes next. JAMA. 2018; 320(12) : 1227-1229. Doi: 10. 1001/jama. 2018.11914.

Zhang, M.W., & Ho, R.C. (2015). The cannabis dilemma: a review of its associated risks and clinical efficacy. Journal of Addiction, 2015, 707596. Doi: 10.1155/2015/707596.

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