Millions of Americans suffer from illnesses that are, currently, incurable. While continued investigation leads to the discovery of new treatments, unfortunately, government regulations often prevent the potential cures from clinical testing. Physicians are now expressing frustration at such restrictions and are working together to create the most effective plans for patients.
State Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal is organizing a series of presentations across New Jersey to recruit more physicians to support medical marijuana, according to a PBS news affiliate.
The lectures follow the recent executive order by New Jersey governor Phil Murphy, which extended the availability of the medicinal cannabis to those with anxiety, Tourette syndrome, and other illnesses. The law also permitted access to the treatment for much lower prices.
Elnahal states that his goal is to “demystify” and encourage increased research. However, he has been met with a mixed sentiment from colleagues.
Weighing the Arguments
The State Health Commissioner argues that insufficient investigation has been conducted on the impact of medical marijuana, but that many physicians have witnessed its benefits on patients. According to Liberty Nation’s Scott Cosenza, the treatment aids in eliminating Parkinson’s tremors, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and grand mal seizures.
Another article on LN notes a study in which cannabis considerably relieved symptoms in 95% of those with Tourette syndrome. Numerous other experiments have also evidenced benefits.
Some colleagues argue that the sample size is much too small to agree on adequate uses and are thus hesitant to prescribe it to patients. Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule I substance along with heroin, LSD, ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote, which are considered to carry a high potential for abuse and no therapeutic applications, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Government funding is typically not granted to scientific testing for these materials, but existing data proves highly promising. Privately funded research is, therefore, the only means through which to compile further evidence.
Facts and Myths
There isn’t adequate proof to indicate extreme dangers of cannabis, as identified by LN’s Graham Noble. How exactly does marijuana act on the body, and could it spur individuals into a life of addiction?
When utilized recreationally, the substance works by causing THC to bind to cannabinoid receptors in specific areas of the brain, as explained by the peer-reviewed scientific journal Biological Psychiatry. Dopamine, a chemical partly responsible for feelings of reward, is then released in abnormally high concentrations. This flood of dopamine contributes to the pleasurable “high” typically experienced.
Exposure to cannabinoids among adolescent rodents decreased the reactivity of reward centers later in adulthood. The implications may point to a higher risk of depression and anxiety, and lack of motivation.
The effects on the adolescent rat brain may also trigger heightened sensitization to other drugs, such as heroin, increasing the chance of addiction, according to the journal Neuropsychopharmacology. Heightened awareness is not only witnessed with cannabis, but also with alcohol and nicotine.
For therapeutic uses, however, it has been found that a chemical in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), is non-intoxicating and is significantly effective in addressing epilepsy in children. Furthermore, studies show that purified extracts of THC and CBD slow the growth of cancer cells in brain tumors. Also, when coupled with radiation, they increase cancer-killing effects.
NIH reports that 609,640 Americans will die from cancer in 2018. Perhaps the implementation of these new treatment methods will extend the life expectancies of patients and provide relief.
“We want to see more research, better research, but we are not,” says Elnahal. As one of the most advanced nations in the world, our country’s leaders have proven highly unscientific in listing cannabis as a Schedule I drug, disallowing medical progress. Hopefully, Elnahal’s work will aid in enhancing the quality of life of those suffering from currently incurable diseases.