Patient Conditions for Which Cannabis Medicines May Be Beneficial

To become a patient in Massachusetts you must have a “debilitating medical condition.” The Department of Public health defines this as meaning: Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS), when such diseases are debilitating, and other debilitating conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s certifying physician. The Department defines “debilitating” as follows: Debilitating means causing weakness, cachexia, wasting syndrome, intractable pain, or nausea, or impairing strength or ability, and progressing to such an extent that one or more of a patient’s major life activities is substantially limited.

The following are some conditions for which cannabis has proven to provide relief:

Cancer and Chemotherapy Treatment: Cannabis is most effective to combat the side effects of the treatments used to fight cancer. Most notably are its extremely effective in curbing nausea and increasing the appetite of patients experiencing the harsh side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. It also can reduce the pain associated with the disease.

HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS patients often experience wasting syndrome from the disease and the multitudes of medicines used to combat the disease. Cannabis stimulates their appetite allowing them to eat more regularly and avoid the common traits associated with wasting syndrome, as well as helps ease the pains associated with the disease itself.

Pain Afflictions: Research shows that cannabis is a safe and effective treatment for a variety of pain related afflictions, including deep tissue pains, muscle and back pain, and neuropathic or shooting pains. Cannabis does not have the dangerous side effects of other opiate-based painkillers and is not known to be toxic at any level of ingestion, making it a much safer medicine for pain.

Multiple Sclerosis: Cannabis improves spasticity and improves tremors in MS patients. It helps control involuntary muscle contraction, balance, bladder control, speech, and eyesight in these patients. Cannabis helps with the immune system, which is thought to be the underlying pathogenic process in MS patients.

Gastrointestinal Disorders: Cannabis has value as an anti-emetic and analgesic medication. It helps combat the symptoms brought on by disorders such as Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Ulcerative Colitis. Cannabis interacts with the endogenous cannabinoid receptors in the digestive tract, which can result in calming spasms, assuaging pain, and improving motility. Cannabis has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and recent research has demonstrated that cannabinoids are immune system modulators.

Movement Disorders: Cannabis is effective in treating muscular spasticity, a common condition, affecting millions of people. This condition afflicts individuals who have suffered strokes, as well as those with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, paraplegia, quadriplegia, and spinal cord injuries. Conventional medical therapy offers little to address spasticity problems. Because cannabinoids have antispasmodic, analgesic, anticonvulsant, and anti-ataxia properties, cannabis is extremely effective in treating these disorders.

Aging: Cannabis has been found to help many patients suffering from conditions that afflict older patients, including arthritis, chronic pain, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and spasticity associated with such diseases as Parkinson’s.

Arthritis: There are two common types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, but both affect the joints, causing pain and swelling, and limiting movement. The analgesic properties of cannabis make it useful in treating the pain associated with arthritis, both on its own and as an adjunct therapy that enhances the efficacy of opioid painkillers. Cannabis has also been shown to have powerful immune-modulation and anti-inflammatory properties suggesting that it could play a role in treating arthritis, and not just in symptom management.

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medicinal cannabis therapy has demonstrated some degree efficacy