Who is using it, how does it help and what does the science say?
Medical marijuana has been legalize in 33 states, and Marijuana Dispensary has approve its use for medical conditions that are affecting adults over 50 in the United States. This year, the Board of Directors consider emerging evidence suggesting that marijuana may be helpful in treating certain medical conditions and symptoms.
The Board of Directors also approve a policy in support of the medical use of marijuana in states that have legalize it. It also supports further research into the medical use of cannabinoids to help with disease symptoms and treatment side effects. Here are seven basic facts you must know:
If your most recent encounter with marijuana is a little bag of dried leaves, branches, seeds, and buds, you’re the typical older adult user of medical marijuana today: a little old-fashion. Seven basic facts must be assimilate in order to understand the current situation.
1. You are on your own
Thinking, if it’s “medicinal,” a doctor will help me navigate the new green world . That is often not the case. Some users like Bette Stone have a medical marijuana doctor who explains the products to them and shows them how to use an e-cigarette. But I discover that this is rare. “Older adults think there will be a prescription waiting for them at the dispensary, like at a pharmacy,” says Rick McKnight, 72, a retired sales executive from Ocala, Fla., who uses marijuana to relieve hip pain . “It is not like this. You get your medical marijuana card. The doctor gives you some recommendations, not a prescription. Then everyone is on their own.”
2. Dispensaries offer an amazing variety of products.
It’s like a trip to an adults-only candy store, pack with tinctures and oils, e-cigarettes and “marijuana flowers”, mouth sprays and skin patches, pretty chocolate truffles, cinnamon-scent cookies, and beverages. sodas, balms and lotions, all of which contain the active ingredients of cannabis. What is sold varies by state, and free samples and in-store use are illegal. (“Don’t open that in here,” the employee at a recreational marijuana dispensary in Boulder, Colo., warned me as she packed my $19 cannabis-infused cherry chocolates.)
3. Today’s marijuana is super potent.
“This is not the marijuana that was smoke in college dorm rooms in the 1970s,” says Staci Gruber, director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program at Harvard-affiliate McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. . “You need to be careful”. For decades, underground marijuana growers have been breeding hybrid plants and selecting the ones with the highest potency to create a more powerful herb.
Study findings show that average levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC—the compound responsible for the high that marijuana causes—in cannabis was 4% in 1995 and rose to 17% by 2017 It hasn’t stopped there. You can buy sealed bags and cigarettes with marijuana strains with up to 28% THC, and concentrates with between 85 and 90%. Fortunately, many products are available that are low in THC and high in cannabidiol, or CBD—the other main compound in cannabis.
Note: Potency varies by strain and form, and assessing a patient’s tolerance can often be difficult. So, before the patient starts a medical cannabis-base treatment, she should consult with her doctor and start using it carefully. There is little scientific research, and as with any medication, the effects vary from person to person.
4. Groceries only appear to be low risk.
It’s just a candy, right? But that rainbow-colored gummy or square of chocolate can contain 10 milligrams of THC, plus CBD. That’s three to four times the amount experts recommend for older adults. “To take effect, edibles take anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours. It’s easy to eat more because you don’t feel anything after a few minutes,” says Danielle Fixen, assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy. “But then the effects last 6-8 hours,” she adds.
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5. There is not enough solid scientific research on the effect on humans.
And the main reason for this research gap is that at the federal government level, marijuana—whether for medicinal or recreational purposes—is an illegal Schedule I control substance, legally on a par with heroin, LSD, and fentanyl. Sell on the street. That’s why doctors can’t technically prescribe it; they can only give you the permission require by the state to use it. More importantly, scientists cannot buy it at a dispensary and study it in most laboratories.
This research gap means that only a few of the common uses of cannabis are support by substantial evidence from human clinical trials, according to a rigorous 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM). Their final results (although they are two years old): “Definitive evidence on the short- and long-term health effects (harms and benefits) of cannabis use remains elusive.”
Under federal law
it is illegal to sell, possess, or use any type of cannabis. However, federal authorities are reluctant to enforce the ban in light of growing state support. In fact, at the time this document went to press, 33 states (plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands) allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes by patients who meet certain requirements; generally, the patient must have a card and certification from a doctor. State laws differ in important ways, such as who can grow marijuana, who can sell it, and what health problems justify the use of medical marijuana.
Eleven states and the District of Columbia allow recreational marijuana use. Under federal law, the cannabidiol (CBD) derive from marijuana, which contains the psychoactive ingredient THC, is illegal; Hemp-derived CBD containing no more than 0.3% THC is legal for sale and consumption, although the US Food and Drug Administration says it is illegal to market CBD in foods and supplements. Thirteen states have pass laws allowing the sale of CBD- and low-THC products. Details vary: check your state’s specific laws and read “CBD: The Hype and the Science.
6. The stigma of being a drug addict if you use marijuana persists.
Whether it’s because it’s a relic of the drug war America fought for decades or because marijuana is still considered illegal by the federal government, many older supporters of medical marijuana continue to hide its use. In fact, several people I interview in a legal state who love the health benefits of marijuana didn’t want the Bulletin to use their names. They fear it would damage their professional reputation or—more often—their relationships with family and friends.
The persistent stigma associated with this herb also prevents some people from telling their doctor, says Hillary Lum, a geriatrician and adjunct professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “In a recent survey, 30% of older adults did not answer the question of whether or not they used medical marijuana,” she says. “If people feel uncomfortable about this in an anonymous survey, they may also feel uncomfortable telling their doctor. This could have repercussions for your health.”
7. Many doctors have a dilemma.
Half of primary care physicians working in Mayo Clinic medical offices said in a 2019 survey that they were unprepared to answer patient questions about medical marijuana — even though 58% believed it was a treatment legitimate doctor for terminal illness , intractable pain and cancer symptoms —.
That hasn’t stopped some consumers, particularly older adults, from asking their doctors.
“My patients want to talk about it,” says Lum. “But I’m in an information vacuum. We don’t have many clinical trials to prove efficacy. Schools of medicine, pharmacy and nursing do not teach on the subject. It’s not in the pharmacy database we use to prescribe medications, so I don’t have a lot of information on potential drug interactions and side effects. Right now, the best source of information is to listen carefully to what my patients are saying about their experiences.”
Even a few institutions have refused to accept its use.
The Cleveland Clinic announced that it would not recommend medical marijuana to its patients when its purchase became legal in Ohio in January. According to Paul Terpeluk, an osteopathic physician and medical director of Employee Health Services at the Cleveland Clinic: “We are just beginning to understand the effects of cannabinoids on the body. When you buy a bottle of Tylenol, you know that it is pure and contains some level of acetaminophen. That is not true for medical marijuana. Neither its production nor its dosage are regulated.
But it seems that many other doctors prefer not to create obstacles that prevent the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Peter Grinspoon, a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, took the unusual step of training so he could certify his patients as medical marijuana users.
“I grew up with this, so it’s hard not to see it as medicine,” explains Grinspoon. His father, Harvard psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon, considers himself the “grandfather of medical marijuana” and wrote a book on the history and cultural use of medical marijuana in the 1970s; there is even a strain of marijuana in Europe named after him. “It makes sense to try cannabis when you consider the trajectory of other medications many older adults take, especially for pain, sleep and anxiety. Cannabis can be as effective as anything.”
Those who use marijuana for medicinal purposes
Their doctors’ views have changed and they are beginning to accept it. “Vaping helps with aches, pains and staying asleep ,” says Jake Lawson, 64, who lives in Beverly Hills, Fla., and works at the Curaleaf dispensary in Ocala. He is also a veteran of the US Air Force and uses the health services of the US Department of Veterans Affairs. “Two years ago, I didn’t feel like I could talk about it with my doctor there. Now it is more or less tolerated. They give you the ‘this is a psychoactive substance’ speech, and then they listen.”
By the way, even in nursing homes there is a profound shift towards acceptance. A program at the Hebrew Home in Riverdale, New York allows residents to use cannabis capsules or cannabis oil drops and has been found to relieve pain, improve appetite and even reduce use of opiates a resident The program complies with federal rules by having residents purchase and use cannabis themselves or with the help of a caregiver who is not employed by the facility. “The benefits are amazing and it should be more available to residents of long-term care facilities,” says Daniel Reingold.
(Note: Purchasing medical marijuana from a dispensary is not covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Medicare, Medicaid, or private health insurance, although FDA-approved prescription drugs may be covered in some cases. such as Marinol, which are cannabis-based).