Medical Marijuana

Marijuana can relieve pain, lower inflammation, decrease anxiety, increase appetite and is known to provide great medicinal aid in the treatment and cure of certain diseases such as cancer.

What is Marijuana?

“It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.” – Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

“We have some preliminary data showing that, for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful,” Dr. Vivek said on CBS News. “We have to use that data to drive policy-making.” – U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy

Marijuana is an ancient plant that grows to approximately 3-6 feet tall with leaves and flowers that come in two main sub-species, sativa and indica. It is also by the names cannabis, hemp, weed, maryjane and many other names. The name marijuana is a Spanish compound word composed of the words, mari, meaning flower, and juana (Juan) which is Spanish for the English name John, the Latin Iohannes, Greek Ιωαννης (Ioannes), and these names are all derived from the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan) meaning “Yahweh is gracious”.

Hence, the meaning of the name marijuana is “Flower of God.” As a poet once said, “Because out of thy thoughts God shall not pass. His image stamped is on every grass.” (Culpepper)

The word cannabis is the Latin name for marijuana and or hemp. Cannabis is a compound word composed of the words canna, meaning reed or stalk, a tube through which a plant’s nutrients flow, and bis, meaning twice or two. The actual meaning would be “plant of two nutrients.”

The reason it is called a plant of two nutrients is because of the two active natural chemical ingredients known as cannabinoids that it produces which is delta-9-THC, and cannabidiol (CBD). These two active chemicals in Cannabis that cause drug -like effects throughout the body, including the central nervous system and the immune system. Cannabinoids can be taken by mouth, inhaled, or sprayed under the tongue. Medical research and personal testimonies have proven that these two cannabinoids relieve pain, lower inflammation, decrease anxiety, increase appetite and is known to provide great medicinal aid in the treatment and cure of certain diseases such as cancer.

The U.S. National Cancer Institute had said in January 2016 that in various studies, cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied in the laboratory and the clinic for relief of pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and loss of appetite. They acknowledge that cannabis and cannabinoids may have benefits in treating the symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer therapies, and has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory.

Recent animal studies have shown that marijuana extracts may help kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. Evidence from one cell culture study suggests that purified extracts from whole-plant marijuana can slow the growth of cancer cells from one of the most serious types of brain tumors. Research in mice showed that treatment with purified extracts of THC and CBD, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation (Scott, 2014).

A 2014 study called, Cannabinoids as therapeutic agents in cancer: current status and future implications found that Cannabinoids exert a direct anti-proliferative effect on tumors of different origin. They have been shown to be anti-migratory and anti-invasive and inhibit MMPs which in turn degrade the extra-cellular matrix (ECM), thus affecting metastasis of cancer to the distant organs. Also, cannabinoids modulate other major processes in our body like energy metabolism, inflammation, etc. These data are derived not only from cell culture systems but also from more complex and clinically relevant animal models.

A General History of Marijuana

The awesome medicinal qualities, and the incredible healing abilities of marijuana has been known by various cultures for thousands of years. The father of history, Greek historian Herodotus had given us the oldest written account we have of its use. In 440 BCE, he had written in his book, Histories that the Scythians used it in their baths and paced it over hot stones. Herodotus had written, “The Scythians, as I said, take some of this hemp-seed [presumably, flowers], and, creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it smokes, and gives out such a vapour as no Grecian vapour-bath can exceed; the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy.”

Here in the United States of America, many U.S. Presidents, Founding Fathers, Governors and Senators over the course of our country’s history had smoked marijuana, and some grew hemp on their estates. Our first President George Washington had smoked cannabis/marijuana and grew tons hemp on his estate.

Washington had once said, “Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.” The second President of the United States, John Adams had said, “We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption,” and American Founding Father who was principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson said, “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country.”

In spite of the incredible history of its medicinal uses, U.S. Presidents who advocated for its use, and the extensive medical research that has been done and countless personal testimonies of people who have claimed that is has either helped them and or cured their disease, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved cannabis/marijuana as medicine. The federal government considers cannabis as a controlled substance, and it is listed as a Schedule I drug requiring special licensing for its use.

However, in 23 states they have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana for medicinal use such as Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington, and even our country’s capital, the District of Columbia (D.C.). To see a complete list of the states that allow medical marijuana, please click on this link. In these states, qualifying patients can obtain medical marijuana from a licensed dispensary, the qualifying patient’s designated caregiver, another qualifying patient, or, if authorized to cultivate, from home cultivation.