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Dear Mr Jeff Sessions,
The manner in which you have spoken about cannabis is quite disturbing. There are numerous medical benefits of this wonderful plant and its flower not to mention the industrial uses.
I am writing this to ask you to please read the medical research and allow medical cannabis to help people. I am including several pages of information for you to review.
Cannabis and its psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, are considered incredibly safe for human consumption. The Drug Awareness Warning Network Annual Report, published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), contains a statistical compilation of all drug deaths which occur in the United States. According to this report, there has never been a death recorded from the use of cannabis. In fact, many studies show it is physically impossible for a human to die from a cannabis overdose.
The documented use of cannabis as a safe and effective therapeutic botanical dates to 2700 BC. Between 1840 and 1900, European and American journals of medicine published more than 100 articles on the therapeutic use of cannabis. In fact, cannabis was part of the American pharmacopoeia until 1942, and is currently available by prescription in Canada, the Netherlands, Israel, and Germany.
The cannabis plant has been around for centuries. It is believed to have originated in Central Asia, but has expanded its reach to an international scale over time. People all around the globe consume cannabis and their reasoning is largely the same: it makes them feel better.
We know that humans have cannabinoid receptors housed inside the body that are ready to bind with cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant to provide therapeutic benefits for a variety of ailments. In fact, cannabinoid receptors are present in humans before birth and the compounds themselves are even found in a mother’s breast milk. Medical cannabis gains merit when you consider our bodies are naturally tuned to interact with cannabinoids, and even more so when you acknowledge the growing evidence of benefits to cannabis consumption.
Cannabis & Digestion
It is no secret – experiencing “the munchies” is one of the most obvious cannabis clichés. Despite the silly connotation, studies suggest that the endocannabinoid system actually helps modulate appetite. This is especially interesting for the treatment of eating disorders. In fact, a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders suggests that cannabinoids may prove effective in treating anorexia.
Cannabis is also famously used to reduce the feelings of nausea but studies suggest it could have a number of digestive benefits as well. Medical marijuana could play a role in a number of digestion-related health conditions including:
Medical Marijuana For Pain Management
Chronic Pain is one of the most common ailments for which doctors prescribe medical marijuana and a recent survey published in The Spine Journal found that 1 out of 5 patients at a Colorado spine center were using cannabis to manage their pain. Of those, nearly 90% said it greatly or moderately relieved their pain.
The spine clinic study was merely a survey, which means more research will be necessary on the potential role of cannabis in treating back pain. With that said, plenty of people will tell you it helps manage pain and science is beginning to back their claims. Studies suggest medical marijuana could offer relief for various types of pain.
Cannabis & Mental Health
A common misconception of cannabis is that has detrimental effects on mental health. It is possible that high doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) could trigger anxiety in some patients, and some believe it could expedite the onset of predisposed personality disorders, but this has yet to be proven by any reputable studies.
The recent trend in the mental health field has been to investigate our relationship with cannabis. In turn, studies have linked cannabinoids to a number of mental health concerns. The research catalog is still growing, but a few mental health conditions for which cannabis could be beneficial are as follows:
Not only has cannabis been linked to mental health, cannabinoid receptor activity in the brain before birth suggests that the compounds could be play a role in brain development. Cannabis has been linked to the creation of new neurons in the brain, or neurogenesis, and overall brain plasticity. In addition to its role in brain development, medical cannabis is believed to have neuroprotective properties that help treat the following conditions:
One the most intriguing potential applications for medical marijuana is cancer treatment. It has long been prescribed to counter the side effects of chemotherapy, but oncologists across the world are working on trials to determine whether cannabis can be used to treat cancer itself. Past research showed promise for THC in cancer treatment, but many are skeptical of using THC-based products because of its psychotropic effects (eg. the “high”). As a result many oncologists have redirected their focus toward cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG). A recent British study, however suggests that cannabinoids may be most effective against cancer when combined in a manner that allows them to act synergistically with one-another.
Marijuana is widely used, especially in adolescents and young adults. In the US, there are about 20 million users (about 7.5% of people aged 12 or older).
Marijuana is a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug. Similar to hemp, it comes from the cannabis plant. The plant’s primary drug effects come from the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC.” Marijuana is smoked, “vaped” (inhaling the vapor), or ingested in foods or teas. Over the last few decades, the concentration of THC in the cannabis plant has been increasing. In addition, the plant extracts are more potent.
Short-term effects of marijuanaMarijuana is often used for its “high,” and can make people feel more relaxed, alter the senses, and cause time distortion. It can also impair thinking, judgment, coordination, and memory. In some people, it may lead to paranoia or anxiety. Physical effects may include bloodshot eyes, dry mouth, slurred speech, and increased heart rate.
These sensations may last up to four hours after inhaling marijuana smoke, or up to 12 hours if consumed, though performance impairments may last for much longer.
Long-term effects of marijuanaSmoking marijuana can irritate the lungs and lead to breathing problems like cough, excess mucus, bronchitis, and worsening of conditions like asthma and cystic fibrosis. It is not clear if smoking marijuana is linked to lung cancer. Marijuana use during pregnancy can also harm a baby’s brain development.
We are learning more about the long-term effects of marijuana, and this leads to even more questions as we realize there is a lot we don’t know. What is clear is that some of the long-term effects correspond to heavy use. However, heavy use is difficult to define given the nature and limitations of past studies, the different ways marijuana and its extracts are used, and the shifts in THC concentration in cannabis.
The biggest health risks appear to be in those who start using as teenagers or young adults when their brains are still developing. In youths who use heavily, studies have shown deterioration in their learning and cognitive thinking that persists into adulthood, even after they have stopped using marijuana. There also appears to be a link between marijuana use and certain mental illnesses. Though most marijuana users will not develop dependence and addiction, it is more common in teenage users.
Medical benefits of marijuanaMedical use of marijuana (“medical marijuana”) is somewhat controversial. In the United States, current FDA-approved medications containing synthetic THC are dronabinol (Marinol capsules, Syndros liquid) and nabilone (Cesamet). These drugs are prescribed as appetite stimulants in AIDS patients and for chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. They are sometimes used off-label for similar symptoms in other conditions. An oral spray nabiximols (Sativex) is approved in other countries for treatment of multiple sclerosis muscle spasticity and cancer-related pain not managed by other pain medication, and is undergoing further evaluation in the U.S.
Although marijuana can help relieve the symptoms of certain medical conditions, its use is still illegal on a federal level, and because we don’t have data from large, long-term, well-designed studies, the FDA continues to have concerns about potential risks versus benefits. Fortunately, studies continue on marijuana, THC, and cannabidiol (a component of marijuana which does not have the mind-altering effects of THC). Early research shows cannabidiol and its derivatives hold potential promise in additional conditions like drug-resistant epilepsy and some psychiatric disorders (e.g., anxiety, substance use disorders, schizophrenia, and psychosis).
Some states have passed laws, contrary to federal laws, to allow the use of marijuana for medical conditions. Some states have also made the move to decriminalize marijuana use by adults or have similar measures on upcoming ballots. It is unclear what health impact decriminalization of marijuana would have. The experiences of other states and countries that have made these legal changes were varied and unpredictable. The greatest threat would be an increase in adolescent use.
Be cautious if you use marijuanaIn the meantime, if you do use marijuana products, do not do so before driving or operating other heavy or dangerous equipment, and stop if you are pregnant. Talk to your doctor about the safety of continued use if you have a heart or lung condition, or are concerned that you might have developed an addiction. Avoid products that are packaged as candy or other edibles if there are children in your household who are more susceptible to a toxic overdose. And talk to your kids about the potential hazards of marijuana, because the risks are particularly high in young people.
It may help with anxiety and PTSDThe relaxing effects of marijuana are well known, so it’s not surprising that a 2016 paper in the journal Clinical Psychology Review concluded that it may have benefits for people with depression, social anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. A recent study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence also found that a very low dose of THC, one of the main compounds in marijuana, helped people feel less nervous about a public-speaking task.
But it may not be that simple: That dose was equivalent to only a few puffs on a marijuana cigarette, say the study authors. They also found that slightly higher amounts of TCH—anything that would produce even a mild high—actually made anxiety worse. Other research has also suggested that marijuana may be more harmful than helpful for people with certain mental health conditions, like psychosis or bipolar disorder.
It can relieve chronic pain and nauseaPain relief is a common use for medical marijuana, and this year the National Academies of Sciences concluded there is indeed good evidence to support this practice. Marijuana products also appear to be effective at calming muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis and easing nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, the report stated.
The National Academies also determined that there is moderate evidence that cannabis or cannabis-derived products may help people who have trouble sleeping due to sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, or chronic pain.
People with epilepsy may benefit—even kidsIn a recent New England Journal of Medicine study, cannabidiol oil—a derivative of marijuana--reduced seizures by 39% in children with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. That was big news for parents who have been using medical marijuana for years, often illegally, to help their kids suffering from this debilitating condition.
The cannabidiol oil used in the study—which will be marketed as Epidiolex if it’s approved by the FDA—won’t make people high, because it doesn’t contain THC.
Thank you in advance for reading this. Please also share with the senate as our nation needs national medical cannabis legislation. Cannabis is medicine.
CEO Wibbets Inc, Entreprenuer, Author, Speaker, Disabled Veteran USN
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