Understanding what cannabis means to the chronically ill changes the perception of the medicine to which cannabis is an “alternative”


Why are people who are sick and tired fighting anyway?

Sixteen of the 50 states have made legal amendments permitting the prescription of cannabis to certain patients. However, because the plant is on the list of federally controlled substances, having a prescription and the permission of their home state won’t stop individuals who use medical marijuana from being federally prosecuted for possession of an illegal substance.

One of the main barriers to its use is its legal status, which remains in place because people are unconvinced of the plant’s novel medical uses. Even those who admit its potential as a medicine may see it only as one of many equally weighted options available to patients. If cannabis does the same job as a pre-existing and legal medicine, why put in the effort to fight to use one that comes with so much hassel. Some patients have even gone so far as to relocate to a state that is more cannabis-friendly.

Understanding the situations and illnesses for which medical cannabis is being used may help non-users understand why patients are turning to cannabis instead of relying on pharmaceuticals.

Really understand what the other options mean

Because many medications take an extreme toll on the body, the use of cannabis is almost always seen as a secondary medical treatment, used to treat the effects of the primary medication. Chemotherapy is the most well known example. Some individuals have exhausted the knowledge of medical science, using dozens of prescriptions and still not gaining enough relief to meet the needs of basic daily functioning. Patients with chronic illnesses, such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord injuries have to face the problems that long term use of pharmaceuticals can have on their bodies.

Most painkillers operate by blocking pain signals. If this type of pain relief is use for an extended period of time, neurons will learn that the signal is ineffective, and stop communicating, putting frequent users at risk for feeling loss. Painkillers also increase lethargy, which just adds to the already overwhelming exhaustion.

Feeling good is part of being healthy

Chronic illness comes with another problem; the psychological impact of long term illness can manifest as depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder. Primary treatment for illness generally does not serve to treat the psychological damage, but doctors will often recommend talk therapy or joining a support group, understanding the impact that social support has on mental health.

Cannabis sidesteps the addition of antidepressants to the daily pill routine. It has the advantage over other pain medications of treating anxiety and depression, two complications which afflict virtually every sufferer of chronic pain, as well as mediating the effects of stress. Medical dogma seems to distain cannabis’ euphoric effects as not part of their medicinal value.

Research has indicated that on days when suffers of chronic illness were visited by friends, they reported lower pain levels and used fewer pain inhibitors than on the days they spent alone. Just being in a good mood releases endorphins which inhibit pain. Unfortunately, many chronic illness are debilitating and can limit social access.


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