The American Cancer Society supports the need for more scientific research on cannabinoids for cancer patients, and recognizes the need for better and more effective therapies that can overcome the often debilitating side effects of cancer and its treatment. The Society also believes that the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance by the US Drug Enforcement Administration imposes numerous conditions on researchers and deters scientific study of cannabinoids. Federal officials should examine options consistent with federal law for enabling more scientific study on marijuana.
Medical decisions about pain and symptom management should be made between the patient and his or her doctor, balancing evidence of benefit and harm to the patient, the patient’s preferences and values, and any laws and regulations that may apply.
Relying on marijuana alone as treatment while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.
Side effects of cannabinoid drugs
The effects of marijuana also vary depending on how marijuana compounds enter the body. The most common ways to use marijuana are in food (edible marijuana) and by smoking or vaping it (inhaled marijuana):
Like many other drugs, the prescription cannabinoids, dronabinol and nabilone, can cause side effects and complications.
Different cultivars (strains or types) and even different crops of marijuana plants can have varying amounts of these and other active compounds. This means that marijuana can have different effects based on the strain used.
Marijuana has been used in herbal remedies for centuries. Scientists have identified many biologically active components in marijuana. These are called cannabinoids. The two best studied components are the chemicals delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (often referred to as THC), and cannabidiol (CBD). Other cannabinoids are being studied.
“Our top therapies attempt to break the association between reminders of the trauma and the fear response,” said Mallory Loflin, an assistant adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego and the study’s principal investigator. “We think that CBD, at least in animal models, can help that process happen a lot faster.” While large clinical trials are underway, psychologists say there isn’t compelling evidence yet as to whether this is a viable treatment.
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Does CBD help anxiety and PTSD?
Recently, the F.D.A. sent a warning letter to Curaleaf Inc. about its “unsubstantiated claims” that the plant extract treats a variety of conditions from pet anxiety and depression to cancer and opioid withdrawal. (In a statement, the company said that some of the products in question had been discontinued and that it was working with the F.D.A.)
Up in the wee hours of the night, stuck watching videos of puppies? CBD may be promising as a sleep aid; one of the side effects of the Epidiolex trials for epilepsy was drowsiness, according to Mr. MacKillop, a co-author of a review on cannabinoids and sleep. “If you are looking for new treatments for sleep, that may be a clue,” he said.
CBD is advertised as providing relief for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is also marketed to promote sleep. Part of CBD’s popularity is that it purports to be “nonpsychoactive,” and that consumers can reap health benefits from the plant without the high (or the midnight pizza munchies).
Earlier research found fewer than a third of 84 products studied contained the amount of CBD on their labels. Some users of CBD have also failed drug tests when the product contained more THC than indicated.
States that allow restricted use only include: Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina,South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Drug Enforcement Administration: “Drug Schedules.”
Marcel Bonn-Miller, PhD, adjunct assistant professor, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.
What are the side effects of medical marijuana?
The drug can also affect judgment and coordination, which could lead to accidents and injuries. When used during the teenage years when the brain is still developing, marijuana might affect IQ and mental function.
To get medical marijuana, you need a written recommendation from a licensed doctor in states where that is legal. (Not every doctor is willing to recommend medical marijuana for their patients.) You must have a condition that qualifies for medical marijuana use. Each state has its own list of qualifying conditions. Your state may also require you to get a medical marijuana ID card. Once you have that card, you can buy medical marijuana at a store called a dispensary.
The agency did, however, agree to support additional research on marijuana and make the process easier for researchers. “Research is critically needed, because we have to be able to advise patients and doctors on the safe and effective use of cannabis,” Bonn-Miller says.
Medical marijuana uses the marijuana plant or chemicals in it to treat diseases or conditions. It’s basically the same product as recreational marijuana, but it’s taken for medical purposes.