Cannabis advocates totally support legalization of marijuana in any form in the United States, but the antagonists severely criticize its legalization and question its benefits. Citing studies, the supporters claim that marijuana can relieve all sorts of maladies, whereas the other faction doubts any medicinal value of the herb.
The debate, however, will continue for some time as no concrete evidence has surfaced to nullify claims of both the sides and it is too early to tilt the views towards one side.
At the moment all researches are focused on two main compounds of marijuana, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). But there could be other compounds other than these that might bring medical benefits.
Tetrahydrocannabinol: THC is the main active ingredient of marijuana which has the ability to activate cannabinoid receptors in the brain that gives the high. The FDA-approved cannabinoids are lab-produced drugs and its effects are akin to THC. They are mostly prescribed to whet one’s appetite and prevent waste from cancer and AIDS.
Cannabidiol: CBD does not interact with cannabinoid receptors and hence does not cause any high in individuals. Since our bodies also produce cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, researchers are looking at producing drugs that can alter their function. The aim is to discover treatments which will enable people to use the body’s own cannabinoids to heal problems like chronic pain, epilepsy, etc.
Although many people self-medicate to deal with chronic pain, there is no authentic evidence to show whether cannabis actually reduces pain. This is mostly argued by non-supporters of cannabis who do not see any benefits of it.
Findings so far have revealed that certain conditions, like chronic pain caused by nerve injury, can be managed by vaporized cannabis. But these are mostly based on self-reporting and have several limitations.
Other studies focus on a combination theory where cannabis is combined with other existing medications. In a similar effort, a study conducted on mice used a low dose of a THC-type drug with an aspirin-like medicine. It was found that the combination blocked nerve-related pain better than either drug alone. However, such a study is yet to be done on humans.
Extensive research required for epilepsy treatment
The internet is replete with stories which claim that cannabis is capable of reducing epileptic seizures. But these studies are done only on mice and no human models have come to the fore. So, it cannot be widely accepted.
It is true that CBD has gained momentum as a potential treatment for seizures. Still, the physiological relationship between the two is yet to be established. Even with chronic pain, a very less number of studies have been conducted on patients. So, not much is known about patients’ response to CBD.
Cannabis and related compounds, including THC and CBD, are listed on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. This means, “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The act is applicable to ecstasy and heroin too.
Dealing with drug addiction
Addiction can make a person’s life terrible, be it to marijuana or any other illicit drug. Chronic addiction is known to be fatal and even recovery becomes a difficult task in severe cases. However, with a little effort and commitment to treatment, an addiction patient can become sober and regain life. Early intervention is the key to manage addiction.