Illegal Cannabis Use Increases in Pro-Cannabis States

Medical Cannabis

In recent years, states that legalized medical cannabis are dealing with rising illegal cannabis use. This is in comparison to states that have no such laws, new research suggests. In addition to that, the percentage of marijuana abusers, or people who use the drug in unhealthy ways, is increasing in the same states. This is according to the findings in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Stats about Legal Medical Cannabis and Illegal Cannabis Use

In states where medical marijuana laws are absent, the use of illegal cannabis rose from 4.5% to 6.7%. This indicates an increase of 2.2%. On the other hand, states where medical cannabis is legal saw the figures go up from 5.6% to 9.2%. This shows an increase of 3.6% in illegal cannabis use.

The authors also see a similar rise in marijuana use disorders. Their incidence is increasing faster in states with medical marijuana laws than the states without. Marijuana dependence or Marijuana use disorder is demarcated in the 5th amendment of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The sustained use of cannabis in spite of clinically noteworthy impairment, ranging from minor to severe.

The Positive Impact of Legalization

However, even though the study concludes an increase in disorders typically in adults, other studies show that a decline in the same disorder in teens from 2002 to 2013. In the research, two states, Colorado and California, are at the top for their higher percentages of illegal cannabis use. For instance, from 2001/2002 to 2012/2013, the rates of illegal use rose by 7 percentage points in Colorado. The corresponding increase in California is 5.3%. Both these states legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Deborah Hasin, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, explains how the medical marijuana laws discreetly send a message that the drug is safe for use and acceptable in some way. With this unspoken message, more and more people feel free to use weed just like alcohol. They use it as a way to relax or deal with problems, such as depression or anxiety.

The spread of medical cannabis dispensaries translates to greater availability of the drug. This might also encourage unlawful use, as per director of the RAND Corporation’s Bing Center for Health Economics, Rosalie Pacula. Mason Tvert of the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project criticized Hasin’s team’s data. He said it contradicted previous research on the same subject.

Overall, researchers admit to a number of limitations in the study. These include potential inaccuracies and discrepancies regarding self-reported data. For example, many marijuana users today may feel more comfortable about disclosing their use of the substance. This was not the case in the past. It will take more research and studies to draw a solid conclusion. Only then we can explain exactly why medical cannabis laws trigger the increase of illegal cannabis use.

How to Acquire Medical Marijuana Legally

Acquire Medical Marijuana Legally

Medical marijuana is rapidly polarizing as a treatment option among people suffering from chronic pain and disease, especially since 29 states across the US have legalized it. Despite its legalization, medical marijuana isn’t available to everyone who desires it. The use and distribution of medical marijuana is monitored closely and there is a way to acquire medical marijuana legally: a medical marijuana card.

Having this card lets you acquire medicinal marijuana completely. However, it can be quite confusing and almost impossible to get the card. This is because doctors are not so quick to prescribe this treatment to their patients. You will find this to be the case when compared to the prescriptions you receive for other pharmaceutical drugs. There are fewer considerations to make and patients only need to fulfill a few specific requirements before they start using.

Fortunately, with the correct information and guidance, you can acquire medical marijuana legally. Here are the 3 key requirements that will help you start the process:

Requirements to Acquire Medical Marijuana Legally

1.      Proof of Residence

First, you need to provide proof of residence. If you live in a state where medical marijuana is not legal, sadly for you, your journey ends here. However, stay up to date with the news and as soon as you find that medical marijuana is legal in your state, you can move on to the next step.

2.      Eligible Condition

You should be suffering from a health condition that makes you eligible for medical marijuana. The list of eligible conditions will differ from state to state so make sure you go through your local laws for more information on the subject. Serious, incapacitating, or terminal diseases, such as glaucoma, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and cancer are on almost every list. Other conditions, such as anorexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease, wasting syndrome, nausea, Alzheimer’s, hepatitis C, muscular dystrophy, Crohn’s disease and depression are also usually on the list.

But it is important to remember there are some areas that focus more on the symptoms instead of the condition. Here, a doctor will decide whether you qualify or not. If you are able to verify through an examination that you suffer from chronic pain that is a result of a condition which is not listed on the on the eligibility list, you might still have a shot at being eligible.

3.      Doctor’s Documents

The final and most crucial step to acquiring your medical cannabis card is finding a doctor to prescribe it. Keep in mind that not every doctor will be comfortable with prescribing medical marijuana. Hence, you might have to go back and forth before you finally find a doctor who will do it for you. Fortunately, there are doctors and medical cannabis clinics that specialize in working with patients who need medical marijuana.

If you manage to prepare all these documents, you can acquire medical marijuana legally.

Benefits of Medical Cannabis for Veterans Dealing with PTSD

Veterans Dealing with PTSD

Waking up with a cold sweat, ringing ears, horrifying flashbacks, and night terrors. This is what life is like for numerous veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is common among veterans in the US. Studies confirm that over 20% of the soldiers who witnessed the war in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Another study estimates that 200,000 plus veterans from the Vietnam War had to deal with the same disorder. It is important to uncover treatment options for veterans dealing with PTSD.

The Drawbacks of Conventional Treatments for Veterans Dealing with PTSD

Doctors typically deploy a combination of clinical therapy and medicines to combat the symptoms of PTSD. Most of the time, these options are not effective. Anti-depressants work but also come with well-known side effects and risks. Even though they are effective at dulling the pain of PTSD, they can bring along a series of issues that will require additional medical attention. Since veterans are in a never-ending search for something that works , many of them are now turning to medical cannabis. This natural plant is as effective in relieving pain as pills, but without the adverse effects.

According to a recent decision by the Drug Enforcement Administration, clinical trials are in progress that will help prove the effectiveness of medical cannabis as a treatment for veterans dealing with PTSD. At present, only six states in the US allow citizens dealing with this disorder to get a medical cannabis card, which means there is still room to grow.

How Medical Cannabis Benefits Veterans Dealing with PTSD

However, veterans who do have access to medical cannabis are actually benefiting from the drug in the following ways:

Medical cannabis is fast acting and versatile. Patients who rely on the drug have great flexibility in both the kind of medicine they use and the way they consume it. There are hundreds of strains of cannabis, where each possesses its own special medical benefit. Users also have complete control of their dose. They can choose to ingest, apply or smoke as little or much as they want. In addition, antidepressants take a long time to work and call for a long tapering time in case the user decides to switch medications or stop using them. On the other hand, medical marijuana has no such repercussions.

There is a low risk of addiction and withdrawal symptoms with cannabis. With traditional PTSD medication, there is a serious risk of addiction that can bring unbearable withdrawal symptoms once the user stops using them. With medical cannabis, however, veterans dealing with PTSD are at a far less risk of withdrawal and physical addiction, resulting in an enjoyable and safer experience. In fact, some doctors are prescribing medical cannabis to their patients for overcoming addiction with a 75% success rate.

How Medical Cannabis Can Benefit Children with Autism

Medical Cannabis

Approximately 2 million people in the US suffer from autism, which is a collection of disorders that affect brain development. It leads to  social interaction issues, communication difficulties, learning problems, high sensory sensitivity, inability to keep a conversation flowing, repetitive and even injurious behaviors. It is believed that medical cannabis can help children with autism.

Autism is not a specific disease, like muscular dystrophy or Crohn’s. Rather, it is a group of conditions you can refer to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

The causes of ASD are unknown, but as per the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the environment and genetics are both key contributors to the disorder. Autistic people generally have abnormal neurotransmitter levels and brain irregularities, which suggest the disorder is the result of a disruption in normal development of the brain due to the presence of defective genes that control the communication of brain cells.

Medical Marijuana and Its Effects on Autism

Research suggests there is a potential connection between cannabinoid receptors and autism. This is evident in cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB2), inside the endocannabinoid system 2, 5, 7, 9. There is sufficient evidence that shows CB2 receptors support the theory that the brain’s inability to send clear cues causes autism. This in turn increases the possibility that using cannabinoids in marijuana can reinstate communication to facilitate proper cell operation and communication. Studies also support cannabinoids efficiency in treating autism, especially in children.

One study concludes an autistic child show significant improvement in lethargy, hyperactivity, stereotypy, irritability and inapt speech after receiving THC for about six months. Furthermore, mice showing behavior similar to humans’ autistic behavior enjoyed decline in depression and succeeded in staying focused on running on the spinning wheel after they were given cannabinoids. A study showed boosting cannabinoids, such as the ones present in cannabis, in the brain helps correct behavioral problems that stem from Fragile X Syndrome, the most widespread genetic cause of autism.

How Medical Cannabis Can Benefit Children with Autism

Increasingly, parents who have children experiencing severe autism have few options for treating ASD symptoms. Keeping this in mind, many are now turning to medical cannabis. People are aware of the anecdotal success reports, as there are promising results present. Although clinical research remains absent, several studies indicate that medical cannabis can:

  • Help in autism management thanks to the presence of certain components, like the CB2 receptor. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23585028
  • Improve various autism symptoms, such as aggression, panic, anxiety, tantrums, generalized rage, self-harm, and property destruction. This is as per findings of the Autism Research Institute.
  • Help with behavioral issues due to the presence of certain chemicals.

Since scientists rely on evidence, few researchers or doctors are willing to prescribe marijuana. They don’t prescribe it for children, as they don’t feel comfortable. However, the therapeutic qualities of cannabis are undeniable, considering the plethora of anecdotal studies available today.