The Cannabis Story

Blog#200- 5/5/24

ByRichard Davis

I still have trouble believing that I will not be arrested if I carry marijuana in my pocket or in my car. I came of age at a time when the drug was considered to be on par with heroin and other deadly substances. Some people were even making reference to the 1936 movie Reefer Madness when they tried to show how bad they thought marijuana was.

If you smoked it in your college dorm room you had to make sure you put a towel at the bottom of the door so no one would know what was happening inside. You risked expulsion from school and possible arrest.

No one could have predicted that this psychoactive substance that really is in a class all it’s own, would someday become legal for recreational use in 24 states and in D.C. Society has changed a lot and the federal government is moving to reclassify cannabis so it is not in the same class as heroin. Federal legalization is still not on the radar.

People have been using cannabis as long as 5000 years ago, according to most sources. That is a long time, and during that time people have learned a lot about the substance. Estimates indicate that about 18% of Americans have used cannabis at least once. It is interesting that the country with the highest use of the substance is Israel at 27%.

In the case of cannabis, anecdotal evidence about its affects is easy to come by. Many people use it to calm down or even to help them sleep. Others have found relief from different kinds of pain. As with any substance, cannabis is subject abuse, although the concept of overdose does not really apply as much as damage to lungs and brains.

Now that cannabis is mostly moving into the acceptable mainstream of life in 2024 medical researchers are looking for evidence of the health benefits of this substance. But the public may be way ahead of them, and any studies that are conducted may confirm what many people already know. Yet, the studies need to be done so that medical professionals can prescribe use without feeling they are being clinically callous. Doctors need scientific proof.

Some medical professionals are not as hung up on formal studies and they accept anecdotal reports when they can be backed up with a lot of proof. One such case has been the use of cannabis to counteract the effect of chemotherapy. It has anti-emetics effects for many people. When I was working as a home health nurse 30 years ago it was common for me to enter a home of a cancer patient where the smell of marijuana was strong. It helped these people and those who could not smoke learned to make edibles. Doctors didn’t exactly “prescribe” marijuana but they did tell people it could be an option and they covertly supported its use.

The more that cannabis is used the more information that is available. Many researchers believe that there have not been enough studies with high numbers of people to verify the health benefits of cannabis. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) offers a list of many of the conditions for which cannabis may provide benefit.

According the to NLM, “…the most common conditions for which medical cannabis is used in Colorado and Oregon are pain, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, nausea, posttraumatic stress disorder, cancer, epilepsy, cachexia, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and degenerative neurological conditions. We added to these conditions of interest by examining lists of qualifying ailments in states where such use is legal under state law. The resulting therapeutic uses covered by this chapter are chronic pain, cancer, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, anorexia and weight loss associated with HIV, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy, spasticity, Tourette syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, dementia, glaucoma, traumatic brain injury, addiction, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia and other psychoses.”

We have entered a new era where cannabis is becoming one of the best options to treat symptoms of many diseases. And, of course, don’t forget that most people use cannabis just to get high. In these stressful times we need all the help we can get. Just ask the Israelis.

Comments | 1

  • Serpico

    In high school in Florida the school brought in a guest speaker, with an agenda to teach us the dangers of drugs.

    It was Frank Serpico… the former cop who had the film based on his career. He told us his full story of becoming a policeman in NYC, seeing corruption, doing something about, being set up and shot in the face, and so on. Quite the lecture on police corruption for kids to hear! And in Florida, no less, the place where a course called “Americanism vs Communism” was required of each of us students.

    At the end of a really good lecture, he warned us all that “THIS (he mimed a joint-toking action),” he paused dramatically, “leads to THIS (he moved his hand up and mimed a gun to the head).” Even as teens, we knew that was a lie. We made fun of that part of the lecture in the days to come – miming everything we could think of and saying it would lead to “THIS,” a deadly end. “Walking against the wind… leads to THIS!”

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