Medical Marijuana – Yes or No? {with Fibro Live video}

One of the most controversial topics is the use of medical marijuana as a treatment option for those suffering with chronic pain, fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses. Does it really work? And if it does work, what are the benefits? In Tuesday’s Fibro Live show, I asked Donna Burch, a leader in the fibromyalgia community, all about the ins and outs of medical marijuana.

{Scroll down for the video of this show.}

Medical marijuana yes or no? #medicalmarijuana #FibroLive
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Medical Marijuana – Yes or No?

Medical marijuana (also known as cannabis) is a hot topic in the chronic illness community for various reasons, but there’s always the question of Does it work? To help me with the ins and outs of cannabis, I asked Donna Burch to join the show to give her insights to the taboo plant.

Donna Burch is the writer of Fed Up with Fatiguea blog that covers the latest news and research on fibromyalgia and chronic Lyme disease. She was diagnosed with fibro in 2014 and found out she has chronic Lyme last summer. She has worked for newspapers and magazines as a reporter for more than 20 years and decided to use her journalism skills to help herself and others figure out effective treatments and tools for living better with fibromyalgia and chronic Lyme.

 

Questions about medical marijuana

What are the medical benefits of using marijuana?

Donna: We are still learning about the benefits of cannabis. Because it’s classified as a schedule 1 drug, that’s made it difficult for research to progress because researchers have to meet such tough requirements to gain access to it for studies. Based on existing research and anecdotal evidence, we know it can be beneficial for:

  • Relieving pain especially neuropathic and cancer-related pain
  • Stimulating appetite in those with conditions like HIV and cancer
  • Slowing or stopping seizures in people with epilepsy and similar conditions
  • Relieving nausea and vomiting, particularly in those undergoing chemotherapy
  • Reducing muscle spasticity in MS
  • Improving sleep  

 

Why does cannabis work so well in a person with fibromyalgia?

(This question is referencing the article Could fibromyalgia be caused by an endocannabinoid deficiency?)

Donna: I think it’s important to preface my answer w/ a caveat: Cannabis is NOT a cure all. It doesn’t work for everyone w/ fibromyalgia. Some people find it makes them too anxious or paranoid. Some people don’t feel it relieves their pain. Some people don’t like the high of cannabis. It does help many people w/ fibro but isn’t the solution for everyone.

That being said, there are no studies looking at whole-plant cannabis as a treatment for fibromyalgia, so we only have anecdotal accounts at this point. Mainly people report that it helps with pain reduction and sleep.

The article referenced above discusses the research of Dr. Ethan Russo who believes people with fibromyalgia may have a malfunctioning endocannabinoid system. You can read more about his work at the link.

 

Why is cannabis a schedule 1 controlled substance?

(This question is referencing the article What you need to know about CBD oil & fibromyalgia)

Donna: For that answer, I would suggest reading this article Why Is Marijuana Banned? The Real Reasons Are Worse Than You Think. It’s an interesting story that dates back to the time of alcohol prohibition.

 

What are the pros of using marijuana compared to using prescription medicine? Is it addictive?

Donna: There are different opinions on whether cannabis is addictive or not. My personal belief is that it’s not physically addictive. If you’re an everyday user, and you stop cold turkey, you are not going to go through physical withdrawals like those felt from something like heroin or cocaine. I believe some people can become mentally dependent on it, but that’s not the same as a physical addiction.

In my opinion, the pros of using cannabis over prescription medication are:

  • It’s a natural plant, not a synthetic drug that’s been created in a lab
  • It’s been used for medical uses for centuries
  • No one has ever died from overdosing on cannabis
  • The side effects are temporary and not as troublesome as some prescription drugs

 

What are the side effects?

Donna: The THC in cannabis causes you to feel high. You will feel a little out of it, a little groggy. You will have impaired thinking. It’s not a good idea to drive. This effect varies depending on how cannabis is used. If you’re vaping or smoking, then you’ll feel high for an hour or two at most. If you’re using an edible or something like Rick Simpson Oil, the effect will last longer.

If you use cannabis that has a larger ratio of CBD to THC, then it will cause little to no high. Essentially, the CBD cancels out the effect of the THC, so products like CBD oil or strains that are high in CBD might be an option for people who want to experiment with cannabis but don’t like the high feeling.

Cannabis can irritate the lungs if you’re smoking it. I think the jury is still out on whether it’s linked to lung cancer or not. For that reason, I vape cannabis instead of smoking it.

There’s some evidence that cannabis kills brain cells in young people since their bodies are still developing.

image by kidjack from Pixabay.com

 

What is the difference between medical marijuana and the stuff found on the streets?

Donna: Medical marijuana will be sold by a dispensary. Because of that, you can feel relatively comfortable that the product is safe and clean, and that it’s been grown in good conditions. Dispensaries usually include THC and CBD levels on their packaging so you have greater control over dosing.

If you buy cannabis off the streets, you lose that control. You won’t know the ratio of the product you’re using. It may be tainted w/ other substances (drugs) that are dangerous. You also don’t know how it was grown. You essentially are taking a big risk b/c you have no idea what you’re ingesting.

You’re also potentially putting yourself at risk of physical harm by going into not-so-safe neighborhoods to buy cannabis.

I would never advise anyone to buy cannabis off the street. There are just too many unknowns and risks involved.

 

What do you need to get a medical card in order to get medical marijuana?

Donna: Laws vary by state. Google your state name and “medical marijuana law” and the answer should come up.

 

What is the dispensary like in your experience?

Donna: I wrote about my first visit to the dispensary in My First Medical Marijuana Haul.

 

Can you use it without getting high?

(This question is referencing the article How to use Medical Marijuana without Getting High.)

Donna: Yes, most dispensaries now sell CBD oil and CBD-rich cannabis strains. CBD oil will generally not cause any high. Vaping or smoking a CBD-rich cannabis strain may cause a very mild high, but you will still be functional. You can read more details at the link.

 

CBD oil is extracted from the cannabis plant and is used for treating pain and other various symptoms. What is the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil? What is the difference between using CBD oil and medical marijuana?

(This question is referencing the article What You Need to Know About CBD Oil & Fibromyalgia.)

Donna: CBD oil falls into the category of medical marijuana. There are two different kinds of CBD oil – cannabis-based CBD oil that’s usually sold in a dispensary and hemp-based CBD oil that’s sold online. I cover the differences in detail in the article linked above.

 

Where can someone go to learn more about medical marijuana?

Donna: I recommend the following:

Americans for Safe Access
Project CBD
Leafly
Rick Simpson Oil
Your local dispensary – The employees are usually pretty knowledgeable about medical cannabis and its uses.

 

Are there any organizations that can help advocate for legalization in states where medical marijuana is not legal yet?

Donna: I would recommend NORML.org as a starting point. They have a list of state chapters that are working toward legalization. Also, try googling your state name and “cannabis advocacy group” or similar keywords. I’m guessing pretty much every state has cannabis advocacy groups at this point.

 

Which cannabis strain is good for energy?

Donna: Great question because there are three main strains of marijuana – Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid. More information at www.Leafly.com Sativa is best for energy; indica strains are best for sleep and pain relief.

image by StayRegular from Pixabay.com

 

Facts you should know about cannabis

  • The cannabis plant has been used medicinally for centuries.
  • Studies suggest that heavy use of marijuana before the age of 25 can cause damage to the brain because the brain is still developing.
  • Marijuana has never killed anyone.
  • Studies show that alcohol is more harmful than marijuana.

 

Additional Resources

Why the US Made Marijuana Illegal

 

Fibro Live Show

 

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Brandi

Hi, I’m Brandi, the writer and creator of Being Fibro Mom and My Fibro Journal. Aside from my work on Being Fibro Mom, I run a group called Fibro Parenting on Facebook. I've been writing for the Fibromyalgia Magazine since 2016 and recently became the Secretary and Fibro & Families program director for International Support Fibromyalgia Network. Facebook-+-Twitter-+-Instagram

One thought on “Medical Marijuana – Yes or No? {with Fibro Live video}

  • October 19, 2017 at 10:14 am
    Permalink

    Hi!
    I’ve been hearing about CBD oil more and more. Issue is the difference the types between marijuana and hemp.

    Reply

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