Minister’s daughter Aimee Curry was reluctant to believe that marijuana was a viable pain reliever for the crippling back spasms that she often endured as a result of her 1992 car accident. Her father, an ordained minister, had told her using marijuana was bad, and she was unwilling to start using to alleviate her pain. However, due to the urging of a friend, she now believes that cannabis is a “gift from God” and found that the pain eased almost as soon as the marijuana kicked in. However, there are physicians that suggest that there may be some risks associated with using the drug.
Curry says she now believes that the Drug Enforcement Agency may have made an error in putting marijuana on its Schedule 1. Schedule 1 states that drugs under this schedule are “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” She notes that with the high rate of death from opioid abuse, she is stunned with the medical support behind using opiates as painkillers and the lack of legal support behind using marijuana as painkillers.
Dr. Jay Joshi, medical director and chief executive officer of National Pain Centers, says that he believes no drug is without risk. He adds that medical trends seem to swing from one extreme to the other and that reality is often reflected somewhere in the middle. According to Joshi, opiates were widely supported and medical professionals were highly enthusiastic about their use a few years ago but now, there is growing support behind using medical marijuana and easing support for the use of opiates as a way to alleviate pain.
In addition to its ability to help relieve pain, marijuana has been increasingly recognized for its ability to alleviate anxiety, thanks to the receptors that appear to exist in the amygdala that help produce natural endocannaboids in the brain. These endocannabinoids apparently dampen the stress response in the brain, thereby allowing anxiety levels to ease. It would seem that based on these findings, cannabis might be considered a “gift from God”, but physicians caution that there are some risks that should be considered with every use of medication.
Further to this, there are also efforts on the table to use medical marijuana-based drugs as a means of combatting epilepsy in children. It has been seen that a cannabis oil medication called Charlotte’s Web has been used to varying degrees of success in Colorado and California and has gone a long way in easing severe epilepsy in some children. While it has not been entirely supported or approved, there is now a move afoot to try and approve the drug as a viable treatment for epilepsy.
However, there are some risks associated with medical marijuana that need to be considered. There have been considerations given towards combining cannabinoid drugs with opiates as it has been found that the two in combination have been an effective means of pain relief. There are also continued concerns about the numbers of deaths and injuries that have occurred as a result of FDA-approved drugs; nearly 100,000 died as a result of using FDA-monitored drugs while nearly 600,000 others had serious outcomes from using them, including life-threatening situations.
It comes as no surprise to medical professionals that there are those that may view cannabis as a “gift from God”, but they caution against ignoring the potential risks in using the drug. Aimee Curry, however, is one who now believes in the benefits of the drug.
By Christina St-Jean