The fundamentals of medical marijuana: Part 2

Nov 24, 2023 | 0 comments

Author’s note: The is the second of a multi-part series about medical marijuana.

By Garnett Stewart

Last week, I detailed why and how a conservative provider changed her mind and lifestyle to become a medicinal marijuana user. I never used this product for over 40 years; therefore, the following information will serve as a review for many of you.

Remember that most published MMJ material comes from the United States and Europe, and each publication is governed by their national and local laws.  In the United States, over two-thirds of states acknowledge the medicinal use of marijuana, while a minority consider it unlawful to consume even for medical purposes.  In a democracy, the federal government will defer to state decisions, and several attempts to make it a federally useable substance have been denied.

Cannabis Sativa is the plant from which marijuana is derived. This herb has been used to cure a number of ailments and disorders for millennia. In that respect, this is an ancient remedy rather than a new one. The FDA has authorized this cannabis-derived medicinal product, cannabidiol (Epidiolex), to treat certain epileptic disorders in the United States.

The plant produces a flower (called bugs or nugs) at the tip of the stem and the base of the leaves. All parts of the plants are usable, but the THC and CBD is mostly from the female plants. The male leaves can be used but mostly smoked.  The flowers— or bud— have the most powerful concentration of the chemicals that produce an effect on the brain; they are harvested to produce the drug marijuana. THC becomes activated when heated. In its natural form it is therapeutic but not hallucinogenic. Click here for more information.

Epidiolex is a generic medication. 1 Bottle, 100GM costs an average of $27,973.02. By utilizing the WebMDRx coupon, you can get cannabidiol for $15,861.50, a 43% savings.  EPIDIOLEX (cannabidiol) oral solution is a clear, colorless to yellow liquid containing 100 mg/mL cannabidiol. Dehydrated alcohol, sesame seed oil, strawberry flavor, and sucralose are among the inactive components.

I have to say, HOLY COW!!!! Two thousand seven hundred bucks for ONE dose? Even with a discount voucher, each dose can cost $150. OH MY GOD!!!!!  So, if you are a very affluent person, you can purchase this prescription, which will last between a month and five weeks.  Chronic illnesses are receiving care and relief from their effects, but this medication will be needed probably a lifetime.

Marijuana has chemicals called cannabinoids. Medical researchers usually focus on the health effects of two chemicals in particular: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the substance that makes you high; CBD doesn’t have mind-altering effects. But most people benefit from a mixture. In my experience the CBD alone works quickly and effectively but ever-increasing doses were needed with the CBD alone product. Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level of blood thinning and other medicines in your blood by competing for the liver enzymes that break down these drugs. But then again so can grapefruit juices.

To receive the MMJ:

  • Smoke the leaves
  • Vaporized spray
  • Take a pill or liquid
  • Bake it into foods
  • Ingest a black tar version (hashish) in small drops

The chemicals in marijuana affect you when they connect with specific parts of cells called chemoreceptors. You have receptors in your brain and in your immune system for these chemicals. These are the sister receptors we have for opioids. Studies are infrequent and must be funded by the chemical companies and pharmaceutical creators themselves.

Consider these illnesses and CBD THC do have helping properties:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • ALS
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Seizures
  • Hepatitis C
  • AIDS
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Chronic Pain
  • Severe Nausea

It’s difficult to get all experts to agree on anything, but it appears that scientists believe it works as a pain reliever, may halt vomiting during chemotherapy, can reduce some MS symptoms, and can cure uncommon kinds of epilepsy. Note that real cures can be accomplished with MMJ for epileptics.

“If you smoke it, you could have breathing problems such as chronic cough and bronchitis. Research has linked cannabis use and car accidents but in Colorado accidents dropped. If you use it while pregnant, you may affect your baby’s health and development. They based this decision not on actual drug studies but on Stoner Mothers will affected children. The difficulty here: find a pregnant mother who will subject her unborn baby to MMJ drug tests and then control the test members carefully to yield valuable results. According to WebMD studies also show a tie between pot and psychotic disorders. The ER doctor’s noticed schizophrenic changes in stoned youths. I could not find an actual study for this statement.

Some of the most common side effects are dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, light-headedness, drowsiness, and nausea. Side effects are usually mild or moderate and usually stop quickly, but sometimes severe side effects occur.

 

When Colorado approved MMJ for use in both recreational and medicinal marijuana, I did personal research using police documents. Homicides were down about 80%. DUIs down 75%. Accidents down 65%. Home invasions were down 80%. All measurable problems down except for arson which had doubled. I guessed some meth lab explosions were truly the reason for arson increases and possible insurance frauds. Overall, the CHILLED Colorado improved with legal multiuse marijuana.

If you ingest, remember this MMJ tinctures or food products may cause gastritis. A dear friend suffered from MMJ over use and had a severe gastritis when she tripled down on the dose. Once again, if some is good more is NOT better! It is called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). It is characterized by these repeated episodes of severe nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting that returns every few weeks or months.

Besides the approval of cannabidiol (Epidolex) as a treatment for two rare kinds of epilepsy, the FDA has also approved three synthetic cannabis-related drug products: Marinol (dronabinol), Syndros (dronabinol), and Cesamet (nabilone). If you have nausea caused by chemotherapy, you might take a synthetic cannabinoid, either dronabinol or nabilone. The drug companies invested a huge amount of time and energy creating a synthetic version so they FDA could approve it for prescription and sale from doctors and pharmacies in the states. Sounds a lot like dilaudid and Demerol which are the synthetic alternative to Morphine, a cheaper and highly effective natural product from the red poppy.

People are concerned about addiction. There are marijuana addicts. These addicts need to detox just like alcoholics and narcotic addicts but there is little research about this problem.  Remember research is funded by interested parties and independent studies are seldom funded anymore. The USA is bankrupt. And it was the USA that funded many blind independent drug studies. One must ponder, are the Federal funders really a third party? Technically yes, but in reality, I do not think that a government that will not legalize a substance is not a likely an independent party. The scales of justice seem to be very out of balance.

Doctors know little about the addiction risk for those who use the medicine for medicinal reasons, and additional research is needed. Dependence is the most typical issue. If you’re addicted, stopping usage will cause withdrawal symptoms. If you’re hooked – a more serious problem – you can’t live without the substance.

Black Tar MMJ (hashish) has been used to stop and reverse cancer effectively. This substance resembles opium and is super concentrated. In this high dose, your body’s pH becomes very alkaline and for many the cancer cells die before reproducing and the living cells die as well. The effects are very strong and the user is basically super stoned for the course of therapy. It costs about $60 per 1 ml. The dose is ¼ to ½ drops. Why does this work? The damaging free radicals are happiest in an acidic environment. They allow cells like cancer cells to reproduce. MMJ makes the body alkaline. But then again you can drink alkaline water and ingest apple cider vinegar and pickles with some of the same effects. The advantage is that this black tar version is very concentrated and the dosing is easy to see.

Personally, I spend about $10 to $20 every 1-2 months for my MMJ to treat chronic pain and many inflammations. I use a salve and drops. The salve almost immediately stops point specific pain. Any medical word that ends in “ITIS” can respond to MMJ.

My provider tells me that I buy 4%THC and 8% CBD in my 35 cc vials. I use 1-2 drops in the morning, repeat that dose in the afternoon, and at nighttime I will use 6-8 drops to allow me to awaken pain free and to sleep well. Some nights after a particularly painful day, I will use the higher dose of 8 drops. Once I forgot, repeated the 6 drops, and actually got really high for a few hours. That night I was so hungry!  I did my very best to eat the entire refrigerator. In my mind this explains the success of Taco Bell in the States!

But as a general rule the 6 drops is a perfect dose for me. Some people eat a half a gummy instead.  My side effects are limited. I have been stoned a time or 2 when I used more than 8 drops. “High” is not my desired result but that did cause weird and scary dreams and I was a little hung over for my morning coffee.

Next: We will consider more medical uses of MMJ and some interesting side bars too.
_________________

Permanent resident Garnett Stewart lives in Cuenca, Ecuador. She is a retired Adult Medicine Nurse Practitioner who specialized in Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery and wrote numerous publications. Her nursing degrees are both Bachelors and Masters. Biochemistry and biophysics were her undergraduate majors. Contact her at Ecuador.advice@gmail.com

 

 

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