Stop the Reefer Madness
Colorado has become the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, having already paved the way for approved sanctions of medical marijuana use in previous years. On April 16, 2014, the state of New Jersey put forth a bill that would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, but would not provide a regulated system of retail sales or allow home cultivation of marijuana. Regardless of whether this bill will receive both public and political support, it’s a crucial step forward in a more fundamental issue: bringing awareness to the beneficial effects of medical marijuana.
Marijuana through the Ages
The existence of marijuana and its variant uses date back to biblical time. And while time and man have advanced thousands of years, it is evident that we have regressed in many ways. It is described in the Bible’s New Testament that Jesus anointed [his disciples] with [a] potent entheogenic [psychoactive substance] oil and sent his 12 apostles to do the same [around year 30 AD]. After Jesus' passing, James suggests that anyone of the Christian community who was sick should call to the elders to “anoint him with oil in the name of Jesus..."
The Ancient Chinese surgeon Hua T'o performed surgeries extending from organ grafts, re-sectioning intestines, and thoracic procedures with help from an anesthetic he produced called ma-yo, which was made from cannabis resin and wine. This remarkable anesthetic rendered these procedures painless to the patient.
George Washington’s Diary entries specify that he grew hemp at his plantation at Mount Vernon from 1745-1775. And according to agricultural ledgers, it indicates that he was extremely interested in the medicinal uses of marijuana.
In 1842, cannabis is said to have been used by Queen Victoria of England against period pains. The medicine was administered by mouth, not by smoking, and usually in the form of a tincture (cannabis extract in alcohol) by her personal physician Dr. William O'Shaughnessy, an army surgeon who had discovered the incredible medicinal properties of marijuana while serving in India.
In 1900 and still today, cannabis is used in South Asia to treat asthma, bronchitis, and loss of appetite.
And finally in 1906, just a few years before the U.S began to outlaw marijuana, the Wiley Act is passed by President Roosevelt requiring that the Food and Drug Administration label all medicine, including marijuana so they could regulate sales.
Marijuana the Wonder Drug?
There is an abundance of information available that presents valid, medically sound reasons as to the benefits marijuana has on the body. It is widely known that marijuana has anti-nausea properties and is a popular remedy for those suffering from cancer and AIDS treatments. Marijuana reduces nausea symptoms and is well known to encourage an improved appetite. However, less known is marijuana’s characteristics to raise endorphin levels. Endorphins, which are your body’s own (endogenous) pain killers (opioid’s) have a modulating effect on your immune system and therefore can positively influence the symptoms of asthma and Crohn’s Disease. Some studies have shown that these endorphins even have anti-cancer properties! For those suffering from auto-immune diseases, marijuana has been demonstrated to help the endorphins in your body to reduce the symptoms of many of these relentless, progressive diseases. Additionally, glaucoma patients can testify that marijuana can be instrumental in relieving the severe eye pressure they suffer from.
Lester Grinspoon, MD, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School wrote in a Mar. 1, 2007 editorial in the Boston Globe titled "Marijuana as Wonder Drug” about the remarkable effects marijuana has in helping to remedy various, diverse medical conditions. "The mountain of accumulated anecdotal evidence that pointed the way to the present [marijuana as treatment for HIV neuropathic pain] and other clinical studies also strongly suggests there are a number of other devastating disorders and symptoms for which marijuana has been used for centuries; they deserve the same kind of careful, methodologically sound research. While few such studies have so far been completed, all have lent weight to what medicine already knew but had largely forgotten or ignored: Marijuana is effective at relieving nausea and vomiting, spasticity, appetite loss, certain types of pain, and other debilitating symptoms. And it is extraordinarily safe -- safer than most medicines prescribed every day. If marijuana were a new discovery rather than a well-known substance carrying cultural and political baggage, it would be hailed as a wonder drug."
Is marijuana safe to use?
As Joycelyn Elders, MD, former US Surgeon General, wrote in a Mar. 26, 2004 editorial published in the Providence Journal: "Unlike many of the drugs we prescribe every day, marijuana has never been proven to cause a fatal overdose."
John A. Benson, Jr., MD, Janet E. Joy, PhD, and Stanley J. Watson, Jr., MD, PhD, co-writers of the Mar. 1999 Institute of Medicine report titled "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," wrote the following in their Mar. 22, 1999 article titled "From Marijuana to Medicine," published in Issues in Science and Technology. They stated, “Most of the identified health risks of marijuana use are related to smoke, not to the cannabinoids that produce the benefits. Smoking is a primitive drug delivery system. The one advantage of smoking is that it provides a rapid-onset drug effect. The effects of smoked marijuana are felt within minutes, which is ideal for the treatment of pain or nausea. If marijuana is to become a component of conventional medicine, it is essential that we develop a rapid-onset cannabinoid delivery system that is safer and more effective than smoking crude plant material. Because the chronic use of marijuana can have negative effects, the benefits should be weighed against the risks..."
There is no debating that inhaling a smoky substance is not good for you. In fact, Dr. Rothman would advise you that if you decide to use medical marijuana you should explore alternative methods of drug delivery (such as using a vaporizer or using orally administered marijuana).
You may ask yourself, if marijuana is so safe, and may offer so many medical benefits, then why is it illegal? There are complex economic and political reasons to why marijuana is illegal, none of which we will get into in this blog. Nonetheless, you must understand that those who continue to demonize marijuana are engaging in non-scientific propaganda, claiming that there are no good scientific studies on the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana.
So why don’t we conduct more scientific research on medical marijuana?
We should implore our government to look at the scientific facts and conduct some hard research on the noteworthy medicinal effects of marijuana. Hillary Rodham Clinton, JD, currently the US Secretary of State and formally US Senator (D-NY), stated the following during an Oct. 11, 2007 town hall meeting at Plymouth State College: "With respect to medical marijuana, you know I think that we have had a lot of rhetoric and the federal government has been very intent upon trying to prevent states from being able to offer that as an option for people who are in pain. I think we should be doing medical research on this. We ought to find what are the elements that claim to be existing in marijuana that might help people who are suffering from cancer and nausea-related treatments. We ought to find that out. I don't think we should decriminalize it, but we ought to do research into what, if any, medical benefits it has."
But as the government is still firm standing, there are too many restrictions to proceed with government funded and supported research. Thankfully, Colorado is paving the way, in studying and producing specific strains of marijuana targeted at battling specific medical symptoms. A strain called Charlotte’s web was developed by Joel Stanley and his brothers who increased the amounts of a chemical called CBD and lowered amounts of THC (the chemical that gets you high) in this strain. CBD has been known to reduce seizures in patients, specifically in 5 year old Charlotte Figis, whom the strain is named after. Charlotte had been suffering from a genetic disorder where she would have up to 300 grand mal seizures a week. Her family was exhausted, having researched and tested all treatments with no luck, only to come across the Stanley brothers. Today, Charlotte remains seizure free and her story has been documented with widespread publicity. Because of her success, patients have rushed to the Colorado area so they could also experience symptom relief from Charlotte’s Web, or other symptom specific strains. Today, many other Colorado facilities are making advances in developing and growing marijuana plants that will specifically target sleep, appetite, pain, and supplementary symptoms many of us suffer from.
How can you seek help?
For those of you outside the Colorado area who is suffering from distressing symptoms from your disease, can look to Dr. Michael Rothman for help. Dr. Rothman is enrolled as a provider in the NJ medical marijuana program and has conducted substantial research in the literature as to the properties and effects of medical marijuana. When you first come to be evaluated for the NJ medical marijuana program, Dr. Rothman requires that you also must complete his full metabolic ally directed functional medicine program. You will undergo a comprehensive metabolic workup that includes hormonal, immune system, and nervous system testing to help determine why you have symptoms in the first place. Dr. Rothman will recommend a healthy, scientifically sound diet full of organic vegetables, meat and healthy saturated fats, but limiting sugars, carbohydrates, and processed foods. As you are participating in Dr Rothman’s program, you should incrementally improve your health as you start to remove the metabolic derangements that are making you sick. Dr. Rothman understands you are a unique individual that will benefit from a personalized health and wellness program. Together, you can discuss the next steps in providing some necessary relief of your incapacitating symptoms and make advances on the road to your wellness.
If you wish to find out more information in enrolling in the NJ medical marijuana program, schedule a consultation with Dr. Rothman by calling, 732-268-7663 today.