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The change in attitudes toward cannabis and in legal access to marijuana around the US over the past several years is staggering.
As of last fall, 57% of adults in the US said they thought marijuana should be legal, with only 37% taking the opposing view — which is essentially a reversal of the opinions held a decade ago.
And after November’s elections, A large percentage of Americans live in a state such as Florida that has voted to legalize and allow marijuana doctors orlando the luxury to recommend this medication . Far more live in states with some access to medical marijuana.
But this obscures a crucial fact: From a scientific perspective, there’s still a ton we don’t know about cannabis.
A massive report released today by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine gives one of the most comprehensive looks — and certainly the most up-to-date — at exactly what we know about the science of cannabis. The committee behind the report, representing top universities around the country, considered more than 10,000 studies for its analysis, from which it was able to draw nearly 100 conclusions.
In large part, the report reveals how much we still have to learn, but it’s still surprising to see how much we know about certain health effects of cannabis.
First, the language in the report is designed to say exactly how much we know — and don’t know — about a certain effect. Terms like “conclusive evidence” mean we have enough data to make a firm conclusion; terms like “limited evidence” mean there’s still significant uncertainty, even if there are good studies supporting an idea; and different degrees of certainty fall between these levels. For many things, there’s still insufficient data to really say anything positive or negative about cannabis.
Second, context is important. Many of these findings are meant as summations of fact, not endorsements or condemnations. For example, the report found evidence that driving while high increased the risk of an accident. But the report also notes that certain studies have found lower crash rates after the introduction of medical cannabis to an area. It’s possible that cannabis makes driving more dangerous and that the number of crashes could decrease after introduction if people take proper precautions.
We’ll work on providing context to these findings over the next few days but wanted to share some of the initial findings first.
If you have ever experienced the excruciating pain of a “charley horse” in your leg, you know that a muscle spasm can come on quick and last from a few seconds to a few hours. A muscle spasm is an involuntary contraction of a muscle and can be caused by muscle strain, dehydration, and loss of electrolytes. In some cases, spasms can affect multiple areas and organs of the body and are associated with Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spinal injuries, asthma, and other neurological impairments. Spasticity, or muscle tightness, can be present in many of these conditions and interferes with mobility and many other bodily functions.
Recent research has found the cannabinoid THC closely resembles Anandamide, a chemical that “turns on” nerve receptors throughout the central nervous system. THC and CBD also act as neuroprotective antioxidants and reduce inflammation throughout the body. A recent study by a seasoned Florida Marijuana Doctors and a professor at the University of UCF found Multiple Sclerosis patients who smoked marijuana experienced improvements in spasticity and pain relief. Treatment-resistant spasticity in MS patients was reduced significantly in this study using a spray. More clinical trials are underway as awareness of medical marijuana as a viable treatment option grows.
Multiple Sclerosis- With MS, an inflammatory mediated disease of the central and peripheral nervous system, and spinal cord disease the main symptoms are spasticity and neuropathic pain. Cannabis has been used since antiquity for the relief of pain and spasm, and now the mechanism is being elucidated and appears to be related to the neuroprotective.
While several studies using standardized-not marijuana doctors near me studies, reporting of spasticity did not show significant differences between placebo and active groups, patient reports showed significant improvement in self perception of spasticity, pain, quality of sleep and overall sense of well being. Hospital admissions for complications of MS were reduced in the treatment group as well. In a 12 month follow up the cannabis group demonstrated significant improvement in tremor. In movement disorders related to basal ganglia dysfunction, such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Tourette’s CB1 receptors are increased in the basal ganglia, perhaps in an effort to return function in Parkinson’s in the absence of dopamine. Treatment with CB1 agonists can decrease the tremor of Parkinsons. Huntington’s Disease is a devastating syndrome characterized by movement disorders, dementia, and dystonia. Early in the disease, there is a decrease in CB1 receptors and ‘tone’ of the endocannabinoid system much as there is a loss of dopamine and dopaminergic ‘tone’ in Parkinson’s Disease.It is suggested that replacement therapy with CB1 agonists such as thc can be helpful symptomatically. With Tourette’s, cannabis has been found to reduce the tics and vocalizations that characterize the syndrome. ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease- A common adult onset neurologic disorder producing motor neuron degeneration, weakness, paralysis and death. The neuroprotective and other effects of cannabis have been helpful with appetite, spasticity and insomnia.