Exploring the Impact of Medical Marijuana in the Healthcare Landscape

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Marijuana, often pictured as a drug, has gained attention for its adverse effects and its prevalent usage among individuals. But have you ever wondered about the use of marijuana in the healthcare field? Within the healthcare industry, it is recognized as medical marijuana, serving diverse medicinal purposes for a range of diseases.

So, let’s dive in to explore the medical potential of marijuana.

What is Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana, or medical cannabis, is using the cannabis plant for various medicinal applications. It is used to alleviate symptoms such as nausea, pain, muscle stiffness, spasticity, and loss of appetite in individuals with certain serious medical conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, neurological diseases, and HIV/AIDS. Marijuana contains two main active compounds, namely  THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). These active compounds of medical marijuana interact with the endocannabinoid system of the body and help regulate various physiological functions.

Exploring Applications of Medical Marijuana in Healthcare

Marijuana has various applications and uses in healthcare, particularly in managing certain medical conditions. Some common uses of marijuana include:

●     Pain Control

Medical cannabis is often used to manage chronic pain, especially in conditions like multiple sclerosis and nerve pain, where alternative treatment options are limited. It can be an alternative to traditional pain medications and may allow individuals to resume their activities without feeling overly sedated.

●     Nausea and Vomiting

It can help alleviate severe nausea or vomiting during the treatment of cancer, providing relief for individuals undergoing chemotherapy or other cancer treatments.

●     Neurological Conditions

Medical marijuana may be used to ease symptoms associated with conditions such as epilepsy, seizures, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, and stiffness.

●     Other Health Conditions

Medical cannabis may also be considered for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, and glaucoma, among others, depending on the regulations in a particular state.

Understanding the Current Legal Status of Medical Marijuana

The legal status of medical cannabis in the United States is a complex and evolving issue. Since the passing of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1970, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I substance with a high potential for dependency and abuse and no accepted medical use. However, there have been significant developments, such as the approval of Epidiolex (cannabidiol, CBD) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of severe forms of epilepsy.

Additionally, the Farm Bill of December 2018 marked progress in cannabis-related law by removing hemp from the definition of marijuana in the CSA. This has led to a patchwork of state laws, with some states legalizing and decriminalizing the use of medical cannabis. The legal landscape continues to evolve, reflecting ongoing debates and changes in legislation at both the state and federal levels.

Novel Research and Developments in Medical Marijuana

Below are the recent studies and developments in the field of medical cannabis.

1.   Therapeutic Potential

There have been various scientific studies recently on the therapeutic potential of cannabis and cannabinoids for a range of medical uses. Certain formulations of THC have demonstrated medical benefits and have received FDA approval for THC-based medications such as dronabinol and nabilone for treating cancer, chemotherapy, and wasting syndrome. Similarly, other marijuana-based medications have been developed, like Nabiximols for spasticity and neuropathic discomfort, which are mouth sprays. Another prominent example is Epidiolex, which is a CBD-based liquid medication used for severe childhood epilepsy.

2.   FDA and Cannabis Research

The FDA promotes research on the potential risks and medical benefits of marijuana and its derivatives. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) approves marijuana for scientific studies and allows the registration of additional growers with the DEA for research purposes.

3.   Farming and Production Techniques

Since marijuana is considered a drug, it is prohibited in several countries, including the United States. Nevertheless, countries like Colombia have permitted the cultivation of marijuana crops for medical purposes, but only with a valid cultivation license. Due to the diverse medical benefits of marijuana for treating various diseases, states, and countries are focussing on enhancing the quality and safety of medical marijuana products. To aid in this effort, the Department of Cannabis Control has introduced a self-inspection checklist for businesses. This will enable them to assess the conditions of marijuana cultivation facilities, including nursery and processing areas.

To Wrap Up

Medical marijuana represents a complex and multifaceted topic, with implications spanning from its therapeutic potential in healthcare to its societal impact and legal considerations. The evolving landscape of medical cannabis necessitates a nuanced understanding of its benefits, risks, and regulatory framework. As ongoing research continues to shed light on its medical applications and potential benefits, through thoughtful consideration and informed decision-making, the integration of medical cannabis into healthcare holds the potential to offer alternative treatment options for a range of medical conditions.

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