Most of us are familiar with the use of marijuana as a medicine, and in areas where its use for the relief of pain is legal at a local level, many who prescribe it to their patients and who suffer from chronic pain themselves claim that it has great benefits. Is medical marijuana truly an effective treatment for those who suffer from chronic pain conditions, and if so what potential does it have for more widespread use as a medicine?
Individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Marijuana has perhaps been most widely used as a pain reliever by people who are suffering the effects of the HIV virus. According to Dr. Marcus Constant, director of the Constant Medical Group, one of the largest private practices devoted to AIDS treatment in America, marijuana has significant efficacy in the treatment of individuals suffering from many of the wasting effects of AIDS. It seems particularly effective at combating the effects of nausea, fatigue, loss of stamina, and some of the mental impacts of AIDS, such as depression and anxiety, while also stimulating appetite.
In 2005, the American Academy of HIV Medicine stated that marijuana had the potential to provide significant benefits to the victims of AIDS so long as it is properly prescribed and its use is monitored carefully. The stimulation of appetite is at least responsible for some of the benefit of marijuana, since individuals AIDS often suffer from “wasting” in which a decline in appetite causes precipitous loss of weight and energy.
It seems that a decline in appetite results in a similar wasting phenomenon in individuals with Cystic Fibrosis. This malnutrition weakens the immune system and makes sufferers more susceptible to the pain associated with this disease.
According to Dr. Sean Breen of Medical Cannabis of Southern California, marijuana can be used as an effective supplement to the standard medications of individuals suffering from Cystic Fibrosis. Dr. Breen noted in regards to an informal case study that one young individual with Cystic Fibrosis was able to stop taking the potent drug Oxycontin for his pain once he was given marijuana.
Other individuals suffering chronic pain
Unfortunately for those interested in the legalization and prescription of marijuana to treat their particular problems with chronic pain, American legislators have been more reluctant to allow its use for all but the most potentially deadly illnesses such as AIDS or Cancer. While the state of New Jersey recently passed a law in early 2010 legalizing medical marijuana for the treatment of various diseases, many chronic pain sufferers were left out of the new legislation.
According to Ken Wolski, the head of New Jersey’s Coalition for medical marijuana, there are many other individuals who could benefit from its use to relieve pain. Meanwhile, the drug continues to gain mainstream acceptance by organizations and bodies as respected as the FDA, which has approved the use of THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, as a regulated medicine. But even if marijuana a proven effective way to relieve pain, its still illegal and drug testing in the USA still remained the same.