Views From The Leaf

The Summit Releaf Blog

How Medical Cannabis Does and Doesn’t Work

April 27, 2020

Caduceus Split Cross

Per a recent study by the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM), most individuals who use cannabis for medical reasons are seeking symptomatic relief from pain or physical discomfort – for example, back pain, injury, or accident, migraine – followed by sleeping disorders depression neuropathy, and multiple sclerosis. There is a solid body of evidence for using cannabis as an effective medicine for some of these conditions, and less evidence for others.

Although cannabis is often cited as being one of the most commonly abused drugs on the planet, such a characterization is misleading. There is a common, and false, distinction made between the misuse of licit drugs versus the abuse of illicit ones. Both licit and illicit drugs can be used rationally and irrationally; both can be misused. The molecules that make up the drugs are neither good nor evil. To claim that cannabis is completely safe and can cause no harm is as irrational as claiming that cannabis has no medicinal use whatsoever. The reality is that cannabis can be used medicinally, and that cannabis can cause harm if not used intelligently.

Understanding what we don’t know about cannabis can be as important as making use of what we do know. Cannabis may well be effective in treating certain forms of cancer. Does that mean it is a cure for cancer? No. A cure for cancer is a treatment that will keep a cancer patient free from cancer for at least five years. It has not been proven that cannabis can cure cancer. Cancer is complex. It’s not one disease; it is dozens of diseases lumped together under the umbrella of a single word: cancer. It’s not reasonable to expect any one plant to solve the mystery of cancer. Cannabis may certainly provide promising treatments for certain cancer types, but more research and evidence are needed.

The way to approach cannabis as a medicine is to do so cautiously, even though human beings have been using medicinal cannabis for millennia. Such caution is warranted since humans have used various traditional medicines incorrectly, and have inadvertently harmed themselves in the process. It is worth remembering that arsenic was touted as a medicine by nearly every doctor in the 18th century. There is a surprising amount left to learn about the pharmacology of cannabis constituents and how they interact with each other.

Cannabis is a remarkably nontoxic substance; but within the body, compounds produced by cannabis mimic fundamental regulatory molecules that control and modulate physiological processes. The endocannabinoid system (with which cannabis interacts) appears to have a key role in regulating pain, appetite, immune function, and dozens of other physiological processes. The study of the ECS is so new and moving so quickly that there will almost certainly be additional major discoveries over the next decade.

Until recently, much of the information that is available to medical cannabis patients in the United States came from the marijuana underground, and not from formal medical research. That situation is changing, but not as quickly as cannabis science is advancing. Cannabis prohibition created an immense gulf between the contemporary practice of medicine and the use of cannabis as a medicine. Today’s physicians were not taught that cannabis can be an effective medicine; they were taught cannabis is a drug of abuse. Because of the relatively recent discovery in the late 1980s of the ECS, very few physicians practicing today have been taught about the regulatory role of the ECS in physiological processes.

The following information is presented for educational purposes only. Summit Releaf distributes this information to provide an understanding of the potential benefits of medical marijuana for patients living with one of the approved Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program qualifying conditions for an Ohio marijuana card. Links to third party websites do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Summit Releaf and none should be inferred.

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