An In-Depth Look at Medical Marijuana and The Treatment of Cancer
In light of recent Florida medical marijuana laws, interest in this alternative form of treatment has spiked. Many people are now curious about using medical marijuana for the treatment of illnesses, cancer being one of the most prominent.
Marijuana has been a substance of interest for humans since we first began to engage in agriculture. The versatile Cannabis Sativa plant is capable of growing in many different regions of the world so long as the prevailing climate is warm. As a result, it tends to thrive in tropical climates.
Marijuana is the name given to the leaves of the cannabis plant when they have been dried. It has a large variety of names, including weed, pot, cannabis, ganja, and bhang among others.
This ubiquitous plant has been a chief component in many herbal remedies for eons. However, since the dawn of the 20th century, it has been the subject of heated debate in the legal and medical communities and is one of the most strictly controlled substances in the United States.
The Chemistry of Marijuana
Marijuana is most popularly used as a recreational drug. It contains a collection of chemical agents, only a few of which cause the ‘high’ reported by recreational users. The most prominent of these chemical agents is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. THC is the agent responsible for the popular ‘high’ people experience with marijuana.
Most strains of cannabis also contain Cannabidiol or CBD. while CBD does not have the intoxicating effects of THC, evidence suggest that it may have anti-anxiety effects.
THC and CBD are the primary chemicals found in the substance. However, there are many other compounds present that exist in varying amounts, depending on the strain.
Marijuana also has varying effects on the body, depending on the mode of intake. The effects mostly depend on how well THC is absorbed into the body. For example, when ingested, such as in baked products, its effects might not appear for several hours. It also has additional side effects on mood due to chemicals produced when it is broken down by the liver.
Marijuana can also be absorbed through inhalation in vaporized form. When taken this way, THC is absorbed into the bloodstream faster and the effects are almost immediate. However, the effects of inhalation do not last as long compared to ingestion. Mood affecting chemicals are produced in smaller amounts with this mode of intake.
The Legal Status of Medical Marijuana in Florida
Marijuana is categorized as a Schedule I drug by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. This means that it is illegal on a federal level to deal in it or to possess it. However, the use of marijuana in the treatment of certain ailments is legal through various state laws. As at the time of this post was written, 28 states had amended their laws to make medical marijuana legal under certain circumstances. Florida medical marijuana laws are among these permissive laws.
In order to gain access to Florida medical marijuana under state laws, it must be prescribed by a qualified doctor. The receiver must have been a patient of the doctor for a period of at least 3 months prior to the prescription. The prescription is then passed in the form of a Florida medical marijuana card that can then be presented at dispensaries. Qualified doctors can be found at greenhealth.org, among other reputable clinics.
Medical Marijuana and Cancer
Studies have shown that medical marijuana is helpful in the treatment of the following cancer-related conditions:
- Pain Management
Marijuana is a powerful painkiller. Studies have shown that it has the ability to reduce pain in cancer patients and is as effective as opioids. It is usually used in conjunction with other pain relieving drugs.
- Management of Nausea
Nausea and frequent vomiting are well known side effects of chemotherapy and cause many cancer patients great discomfort. One of the many treatments approved to treat this side effect is a synthetic form of THC known as Dronabinol. Medical marijuana is also sometimes used as a form of treatment.
Neuropathy, also known as nerve damage, is a common side effect of chemotherapy and can cause immense pain for cancer patients. Cancer patients suffering from neuropathy report feeling weak and numb, as well as experiencing a burning sensation in their hands and feet. Medical marijuana can provide pain relief in such circumstances.
Synthetic Forms of Medical Marijuana
Apart from the naturally occurring cannabis, there are several synthetic drugs containing the active agent THC that are commonly used to treat cancer patients. These include dronabinol and nabilone, which are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. They are also commonly used to treat the painful side effects of cancer therapy.