This is a super controversial subject, especially since it’s part of a wider global debate on whether to legalise marijuana for those with chronic illnesses. I say this as some medical professionals I’ve spoken to have recommended it to ease nerve pain from HNPP. It isn’t for everyone for a variety of personal reasons and it is obviously still illegal in most countries.
With marijuana, or cannabis, the advantages include the fact that there has been a long history of use and some evidence of benefits – many patients swear by the herb to relieve their pain, and physicians see it helping those who have few other options. To others, medical marijuana – which lacks both standardised formulations and rigorous clinical testing – represents a challenging deviation from the ideal of evidence-based medicine.
The issue is that one can generalise that medical cannabis has a higher level of testing standards required to meeting the medical standards for dispensing in areas where it has been legalised. These standards do not always apply to recreational use. But this may differ from country to country, from state to state.
This is more of a hypothetical situation for many.
Disclaimer: Everything written is based on personal and other’s testimonies, available journals and research. Please check with your doctor or practitioner before taking new medicines, and do not break your country’s laws.
So is it helpful?
According to Medical Marijuna Inc, a pro-marijuana think-tank, two major cannabinoids found in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), activate the two main cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) of the endocannabinoid system within the body.
These receptors regulate the release of neurotransmitter and central nervous system immune cells to manage pain levels.
Mark Ware, a pain clinician at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, explained that the CBDs act as modulators, “circuit breakers,” on numerous nervous pathways. Within these pathways, CB receptors are located at many key sensory intersections.
Once the nerve is stimulated by an action potential (normal nerve conduction) endocannabinoids such as anandamide flow retrograde up to the presynaptic terminal to dampen the forward flow of nervous information. This leads to less pain impulses being generated and perceived. This decrease is interpreted as pain relief.
Dr Rosemary Mazanet has done some extensive research on the use of medical marijuana on neuropathic pain. Writing for the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy, she said: “Although CBD and THC act differently in the body, they seem to have many of the same medical benefits. Unfortunately, most of this evidence comes from animals, since very few studies on cannabis have been carried out in human patients.”
She adds: “Patients should treat marijuana for medical use like they would any prescription and avoid operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery, performing child or elder care, and making important decisions while under treatment.”
Unlike opioids, marijuana cannot cause someone to stop breathing, no matter how much they ingest.
What are the side effects?
- Increased heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Reddening of the eyes
- Muscle relaxation
- Sensation of cold or hot
- Anxiety and paranoia are the most commonly reported side effect of smoking marijuana with a high THC content
- Alteration of conscious perception
- Feelings of well-being, relaxation or stress reduction, increased sensuality, increased awareness of sensation, increased libido, and creativity
- With very high doses, THC can induce auditory and visual hallucinations. THC should be used only under the care of a physician by anyone with a mental health history.
Effects of cannabis
Peak levels of cannabis-associated intoxication occur approximately 30 minutes after smoking. The total short-term duration of cannabis effects when smoked is based on the potency, method of smoking (vape) and how much is smoked. Any acute effects that accompany cannabis use usually abate after 6 hours.
When taken orally (in the form of capsules, food or drink), the effects take longer to manifest initially, and generally last longer, typically for 4–10 hours after consumption. Taking marijuana in the form of edibles can have unpredictable effects, since they are delayed and thus harder to predict.
Where is it legal for medicinal use?
Smoking weed is legal to some extent in 30 states in the USA, though the majority only allow consumption for medicinal purposes. So where has medicinal marijuana been legalised?
|Countries where medicinal use is legal
|| Information on how it is used
||Decriminalised for personal use. Medical cannabis is legal in Chubut since September 2016, and in Santa Fe since November 2016.
||Legal for medicinal and scientific purposes. Decriminalised for personal use in the Northern Territory, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.
|Bosnia & Herzogovina
||In 2016 it was announced that the Ministry of Civil Affairs had formed a task force to explore the legalising of cannabis and cannabinoids for medical purposes.
||Legal with government issued licence for medical or industrial purposes. In April 2016, Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that new legislation would be introduced in spring 2017 to legalise and regulate cannabis in Canada.
||Since 2014, Chile allows the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes with the authorisation of The Chilean Agriculture Service (SAG). Sale of marijuana-derived medication is allowed on prescription in pharmacies, from December 2015.
||Legal for up to 22 grams for personal use. No limit for medical or scientific purpose, and if licensed by the “National Anti-narcotics Council”
||In 2015, the Ministry of Health officially legalised the use of cannabis-based drugs for medical purposes for patients with illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, or AIDS.
||Medical use of cannabis on prescription has been legal and regulated since 2013
||Since 2006, use of medical cannabis has been possible under a special license. In 2014, 223 licenses were issued.
||Legislation permitting the sale of medications containing cannabis derivatives was enacted in June 2013.
||On May 4, 2016 the Cabinet of Germany decided to approve the measure for legal cannabis for seriously ill patients who have consulted with a doctor and “have no therapeutic alternative”. German Health Minister, Hermann Gröhe, presented the legal draft on the legalisation of medical cannabis to the cabinet, which took effect in early 2017.
||Legal or tolerated in several states such as West Bengal, Gujarat, Bihar, Odisha and the North East.
||Illegal for recreational use, but limited medical uses have been permitted since the 1990s
||Licensed cultivation for medical and industrial use is strictly regulated.
||On 25 February 2015, the Jamaican House of Representatives passed a law decriminalising possession of up to two ounces of cannabis.
||Medical cannabis legalised in 2016.
||In December 2016, Mexico’s Senate voted to legalise marijuana for medicinal and scientific purposes – this was approved by the Chamber of Deputies in April 2017.
||Personal possession has been decriminalised since 1976, and cannabis products are only sold openly in certain local “coffeeshops”
||Congress introduced House Bill No. 4477 in 2016, known as the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, which would legalise the use of medical marijuana.
||Legal for medicinal use only
||In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalise the use of all drugs
||In 2015 the Governor of Puerto Rico signed a executive order to legalise cannabis for medicinal use only
||Medical cannabis legalised in 2013.
||Cannabis-based drugs are legal for medical use, but not cannabis itself.
||The cultivation of marijuana is legal in nineteen provinces in Turkey for medicincal and scientific purposes. However, with permission this can also be conducted in other provinces too.
||Illegal at the federal level but legal at the state level in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, and in Washington, D.C.; decriminalised in eighteen states, medicinal legal in 25 states and Guam. All Indian Reservations are allowed to regulate cannabis laws; laws vary by reservation.
||José Mujica has fully legalised any use of Cannabis in Uruguay; law does not specify quantity for “personal amount”
According to the study Medicinal Cannabis and Painful Sensory Neuropathy in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, Dr Igor Grant said: “Our society should be able to find ways to separate the medical benefits of making a treatment available to improve lives when indicated from broader social policy on recreational use, marijuana legalization, and unsubstantiated fears that medicinal cannabis will lead to widespread cannabis addiction.”
Nothing is 100 per cent safe, but when you weigh the benefits against the risks, and if you suffer from chronic neuropathic pain, you may find a worthwhile benefit from using medical marijuana, as long as you use it responsibly and you do it legally.