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Yesterday, the FDA called for comments to help the United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO) decide whether 17 controversial drugs should face international restrictions under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
Out of the listed substances, cannabidiol (CBD) was the only one that the FDA called beneficial. The agency issued the following statement:
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the active cannabinoids identified in cannabis. CBD has been shown to be beneficial in experimental models of several neurological disorders, including those of seizure and epilepsy. In the United States, CBD-containing products are in human clinical testing in three therapeutic areas, but no such products are approved by FDA for marketing for medical purposes in the United States. CBD is a Schedule I controlled substance under the CSA. At the 37th (2015) meeting of the ECDD, the committee requested that the Secretariat prepare relevant documentation to conduct pre-reviews for several substances, including CBD.
Took Long Enough
Although marijuana clearly has medical benefits, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and FDA have failed to recognize these benefits.
Marijuana has the ability to help treat a number of debilitating diseases and can improve daily life for millions of people around the world. Here are just some of the illnesses it can help treat:
- Marijuana use can be used to treat and prevent glaucoma, which increases pressure in the eyeball, damaging the optic nerve and causing loss of vision. According to the National Eye Institute, marijuana decreases the pressure inside the eye. "Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma."
- Dravet's Syndrome.
- Charlotte Figi has Dravet's Syndrome, and her parents are giving her marijuana to treat her seizures. During the research for Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary "Weed," he interviewed the Figi family, who treats their 5-year-old daughter using a medical marijuana strain high in cannabidiol and low in THC.
- Dravet’s Syndrome causes seizures and severe developmental delays. According to the film, the drug has decreased Charlotte’s seizures from 300 a week to just one every seven days. Forty other children in the state are using the same strain of marijuana to treat their seizures — and it seems to be working.
- Marijuana can help stop cancer from spreading.
- Researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco reported in 2007 that CBD may help prevent cancer from spreading. Cannabidiol stops cancer by turning off a gene called Id-1, the study published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, found. Cancer cells make more copies of this gene than non-cancerous cells, and it helps them spread through the body. In "Weed," Gupta also mentioned a few studies in the U.S., Spain, and Israel that suggest the compounds in cannabis could even kill cancer cells.
- Marijuana can decrease anxiety.
- In 2010, researchers at Harvard Medical School suggested that that some of marijuana’s benefits may actually be from reduced anxiety, which would improve the smoker's mood and act as a sedative in low doses.
- THC slows the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
- A study led by Kim Janda of the Scripps Research Institute suggests that marijuana may be able to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The 2006 study, published in the journal of Molecular Pharmaceutics, found that THC, the active chemical in marijuana, slows the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that makes them. These plaques are what kill brain cells and cause Alzheimer's.
- Marijuana helps ease the pain associated with multiple sclerosis.
- A study published in the May 2014 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that marijuana may ease painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Jody Corey-Bloom studied 30 multiple sclerosis patients with painful contractions in their muscles. These patients did not respond to other treatments, but after smoking marijuana for a few days they were in less pain. The THC in the pot binds to receptors in the nerves and muscles to relieve pain. Other studies suggest that the chemical also helps control the muscle spasms.
- Marijuana treats inflammatory bowel diseases.
- Studies suggest that patients with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis could benefit from marijuana use. University of Nottingham researchers found in 2010 that chemicals in marijuana, including THC and cannabidiol, interact with cells in the body that play an important role in gut function and immune responses. The study was published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
- Marijuana relieves arthritis discomfort.
- Marijuana alleviates pain, reduces inflammation and promotes sleep, which may help relieve pain and discomfort for people with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers announced in 2011.
- It improves the symptoms of Lupus, an autoimmune disorder.
- Medical marijuana is being used to treat the autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Ertyhematosus, a condition where the body starts attacking itself for some unknown reason. Some chemicals in marijuana seem to have a calming effect on the immune system, which may be how it helps lessen the symptoms of Lupus. The rest of the positive impact of the marijuana is probably from the effects on pain and nausea.
- Marijuana might be able to eliminate Crohn's disease.
- Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disorder that causes pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and more. A recent study in Israel showed that smoking a joint significantly reduced Crohn's disease symptoms in 10 out of 11 patients, and caused a complete remission of the disease in five of those patients.
- Pot soothes tremors for people with Parkinson's disease.
- Recent research from Israel shows that smoking marijuana significantly reduces pain and tremors and improves sleep for Parkinson's disease patients. Particularly impressive was the improved fine motor skills among patients. Medical marijuana is legal in Israel for multiple conditions, and for that reason much of the research into the medical uses of cannabis is done there and supported by the Israeli government.
- Marijuana helps veterans suffering from PTSD.
- The Department of Health and Human Services recently signed off on a proposal to study marijuana's potential as part of the treatment for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Marijuana is approved to treat PTSD in some states already. In New Mexico, PTSD is the number one reason for people to get a license for medical marijuana, but this is the first time the U.S. government has approved a proposal that incorporates smoked or vaporized marijuana, which is currently classified as a drug with no accepted medical applications.
- Marijuana protects the brain after a stroke.
- Research from the University of Nottingham shows that marijuana may help protect the brain from damage caused from a stroke by reducing the size of the affected area — at least in rats, mice, and monkeys.
- It might protect the brain from concussions and trauma.
- There is some evidence that marijuana can help heal the brain after a concussion or other traumatic injury. A recent study in the journal Cerebral Cortex showed that in mice, marijuana lessened the bruising of the brain and helped with healing mechanisms after a traumatic injury.
- Harvard Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and marijuana advocate Lester Grinspoon recently wrote an open letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, saying the NFL should stop testing players for marijuana, and that the league should start funding research into the plant's ability to protect the brain.
- Professor Grinspoon wrote that "Already, many doctors and researchers believe that marijuana has incredibly powerful neuroprotective properties, an understanding based on both laboratory and clinical data.
- Goodell recently said that he'd consider permitting athletes to use marijuana if medical research shows that it is an effective neuroprotective agent.
- Weed reduces some of the awful pain and nausea from chemo therapy, and stimulates appetite.
- One of the most well-known medical uses of marijuana is for people going through chemotherapy. Cancer patients being treated with chemo suffer from painful nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite, which can cause additional health complications. Marijuana can help reduce these side effects, alleviate pain, decrease nausea, and stimulate the appetite. There are also multiple FDA-approved cannabinoid drugs that use THC, the main active chemical in marijuana, for the same purposes.