Medicinal Cannabis News: Marijuana Users Increase; Research Says Weed is Beneficial to Control Pain

In Alberta, Canada, a licensed marijuana business has been booming with customer demands at about 4,000 and still counting.

REUTERS/Enrique MarcarianA cannabis sativa plant is seen in this file photo.

"There are now about 70,000 patients in the medical cannabis system and that number is growing by about 10 per cent per month, so it is growing exceedingly quickly." Cam Battley, a vice-president of Aurora and a board member of the Cannabis Canada Association, said.

What Is Largely Known About Cannabis (Marijuana)?

Many states have allowed the use of medicinal marijuana, and the number continues to increase despite its controversial effects. Experts say smoking marijuana could lead to cellular dysplasia, subsequent increase risk for the development of pulmonary malignancy and potential macrophage damage. Also, using marijuana could have adverse neurological effects including memory loss and dysfunctional learning ability and psychomotor and cognitive performance among others.

Research Studies Supporting the Medicinal Uses of Cannabis

Mitch Earleywine, a professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany who researches drugs and addiction, reported that in 2737 BC, Shen Neng, an emperor of China, drank cannabis tea to treat gout, rheumatism, malaria and even poor memory.

According to Barth Wilsey, M.D., a pain medicine specialist at the University of California Davis Medical Center, people ask for a prescription mainly due to pain. In a study published in the journal Neurology, cannabis was found to be more effective than opiates at reducing neuropathic pain in HIV patients.

THC, a key ingredient of marijuana, has been approved by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) in treating nausea and improving appetite. Researchers have found that this benefits cancer and AIDS patients because they experience weight loss and tissue damage due to decreased nutritional intake and increase metabolic demand. Cannabis, with its THC content, was also found to help quell the burning pain in the hands and feet among patients who have diabetes, AIDS, spinal cord injuries or other conditions.

Recent researches are looking at the benefits of marijuana on patients suffering from epilepsy. "There was mind-boggling interest in this trial," says Orrin Devinsky, MD, director of the comprehensive epilepsy center at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. "In almost every state, there are patients with epilepsy that are taking medicinal marijuana in hopes of relief."

Various researches on medicinal cannabis are still ongoing, and so far, its also discovered to be beneficial for people with multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's Disease and Crohn's Disease. Doctors have remained skeptical about its uses, though, as marijuana is yet to have been regulated on the amount a patient should take for its various uses.

BBC News
The BBC's Alastair Leithead reports on how evidence is growing that cannabis could cure diseases like cancer. The medical value of cannabis has been hotly debated for years. Its use as a relaxant or a pain reliever is widely accepted now.