Medical cannabis | Northwest Chornicle

Medical healing using cannabis harkens back thousands of years. Despite this long history of humans healing themselves with this plant, we are just beginning to come out of the dark ages about the medical benefits of cannabis.

Cannabis was a part of the American pharmacopoeia until just before World War II. Starting in the late 1930s, the U.S. passed a series of laws against cannabis even though the American Medical Association (AMA) objected.

With the federal government’s laws a barrier, medical cannabis advocates turned to the states for access and passed voter initiatives. Washington state voters in 1998 approved by almost 60 percent a medical cannabis law that helped to turn the tide. Now, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis to benefit thousands of people who need it to treat their cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, PTSD and pain.

In Washington, access to medical marijuana for patients is a significant concern, whether they grow their own or purchase their medicine at a retail cannabis store. The law allows for up to four patients who are entered in the state Department of Health database to join together to form a cooperative garden. Patients and designated providers who participate in a cooperative may grow the total number of plants authorized for the participants. Patients also have the option to purchase medical cannabis at a retail store.

Recent legislation created a medical endorsement for retailers that carry medical cannabis products, and provides training for retail staff. The law ensures patients can be confident they are purchasing from knowledgeable sellers, and it ensures safe products for patients and safe handling in stores.

The benefits of medical cannabis primarily come from the chemicals in cannabis called cannabinoids. The cannabis plant contains more than 100 cannabinoids, although scientific research has focused primarily on THC and CBD. THC can increase appetite and reduce nausea. THC may also decrease pain, inflammation (swelling and redness), and muscle control problems. Unlike THC, CBD is a cannabinoid that doesn’t make people “high.” It may be useful in reducing pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures, and possibly even treating mental illness and addictions.

Recent animal studies have shown that cannabis may help kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. Scientists are also conducting pre-clinical and clinical trials with cannabis and its extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions, such as diseases that affect the immune system, including HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis (MS), which causes gradual loss of muscle control; as well as inflammation, pain, seizures, substance use disorders, and mental disorders. Some preliminary studies have even suggested that medical cannabis use might be associated with decreased prescription opioid use and overdose deaths.

To learn more about the medical benefits of cannabis, turn to a qualified medical professional and seek out a retail store that has a medical endorsement. The staff are specifically trained to help you with your medical questions as well as assist you in finding effective treatment.

To reach Bill Coughlin, stop by Green Tiki Cannabis in Kingston.