Medical marijuana: If it works, utilize it

In 2021, the Kansas House of Representatives approved medical marijuana legislation, but in the other chamber - the Kansas Senate - Senate Bill 560 died in committee during the last days of the legislative session.

SB 560 would have allowed for the cultivation, distribution, processing, dispensing and purchase of marijuana and paraphernalia in Kansas.

Kansas is one of three states left out of the 50 with no form of legalized marijuana - whether medical or recreational. The other two states are Idaho and Nebraska. Missouri voted to legalize recreational marijuana in November, and it is projected to  have recreatonal marijuana available to purchase as early as this month - maybe today.

In the U.S., the non-medical use of marijuana (also known as cannabis) is now legal in 21 states and decriminalized in 10 states, as of January of this year.

There apparently is substantial evidence that medical marijuana can ease different types of chronic pain, including pain from nerve damage.

Reportedly, more than 600,000 Americans turn to marijuana for relief from chronic pain each year now.

In gold-standard randomized clinical trials of people who had agonizing health concerns — peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain from diabetes), spinal cord injury, HIV or complex regional pain syndrome, cancer, chemotherapy, muscle and joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis — marijuana reduced pain by 40 percent, according to the 2017 NASEM report.

In a recent Canadian study, marijuana even soothed arthritic lab rats. Surprisingly, there’s little evidence (yet) from human studies for the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis — the wear-and-tear joint disease affecting 50 percent of adults age 65-plus. Clinical trials are under way.

Arthritis, however, was the top reason older adults used marijuana in a 2019 Colorado survey, followed by back pain. Overall, 79 percent said it helped.

Older adults are using medical marijuana for dozens of other health concerns, including migraines, fibromyalgia, symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease and glaucoma - along wth stress and anxiety.

Medical marijuana reduced the frequency and intensity of migraines in one study. A study of 2,700 older patients in Israel gave cannabis high marks for reducing pain and improving quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

Meanwhile, experts say that when it comes to glaucoma, do not rely on marijuana just yet. It’s important to stick with proven treatments like eye drops. 

Far more research and anecdotal weight is needed before there are definitive answers on these uses.

In a nutshell, society should approve the use of whatever safe medicine it can to help people deal with chronic pain. If medicinal marijuana works, and  is safe, then utilize it.

Kansas lawmakers should again take a close look at the medicinal marijuana issue this year. 

There’s lot of peripheral questions lingering about legalizing medicinal marijuana in Kansas. 

For example, how do we measure whether “marijuana medicated’’ drivers are impaired when they get behind the steering wheel of automobiles?

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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