Can Therapeutic Cannabis Benefit People with Disabilities?
By Thalia Michelle, MAMMA (Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism)
In August of 2013, CNN aired Sanjay Gupta's revolutionary documentary "Weed." Suddenly, the world was made aware of lives being saved by the therapeutic and potentially curative properties of the cannabis plant. The documentary chronicled the journey of the Figi family and their young daughter, Charlotte. Charlotte had been suffering up to 300 seizures a week. Her seizures were so debilitating, a coma was induced to relieve them. A non-psychoactive component of the plant Cannabidiol (CBD) was credited as the documentary revealed how cannabis was used to reduce Charlotte's seizure activity and offer the young child and her family a normal life. Charlotte's story created a tidal wave of interest and energy as special needs families around the world began investigating her story and searching for answers for their own children.
Medical Marijuana for Spinal Cord Injury, MD, MS, Seizures and MoreMedical marijuana advocates have long extolled the benefits of cannabis. Most of us are aware cannabis can be beneficial for pain, PTSD, nausea, depression and anxiety. But what about new claims surfacing from anecdotal stories and research worldwide? Can cannabis truly be beneficial in curing seizure disorders, and in reversing Alzheimer's and Parkinsons? What about cannabis as a treatment for autism, Muscular Dystrophy and Multiple Sclerosis? And what about spinal cord injury? Can cannabis truly alleviate the signature symptoms of SCI including pain, spasticity, insomnia and depression?
There is a growing mountain of evidence that cannabis can indeed relieve the symptoms of all these conditions. There is a legitimate scientific rationale for the use of cannabis as a treatment for a myriad of disorders. Unfortunately, the demonization of this plant has created an atmosphere of fear and fallacious stigmatization against its medicinal use. As a result, the plant is still listed as a Schedule 1 drug putting it in the same category as LSD, Heroine and Ecstasy, and limiting research in this country to relatively none.
Government at Odds with Itself on Medicinal Value of Cannabis
By definition, under US federal law, marijuana has no medical use. The hypocrisy of this law is best highlighted by U.S. patent 6630507, held by the U.S. Government, celebrating its medicinal value:
"Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention."
Cannabis has been used in its medicinal form for thousands of years. It wasn't until 1937 that the plant was prohibited in the Unites States, and its tempestuous political backstory was birthed. Fortunately, for patients who suffer from immunological and neurological conditions, the current socio-political landscape in the US is changing. Awareness and acceptance of cannabis as a medical treatment is on the rise. More than one million people legally use medical marijuana in 20 states and the District of Columbia. It is time the federal government caught up with the rest of America.
Listen to MAMMA
Based in Texas, MAMMA—Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (and other conditions)—is a group of parents of children with chronic illness and special needs who are interested in legally pursuing medicinal cannabis as a safe, effective and therapeutic treatment option. To that end, we advocate for state and federal legalization of therapeutic cannabis, and to give help and hope to those interested its medicinal application. We believe in our right to legally access the plant in its entirety and in all its various medicinal forms. We advocate qualifying conditions for cannabis therapeutics including a diagnosis of autism and co-morbid conditions.
MAMMA seeks to educate autism and special needs families about the healing power of therapeutic cannabis as it applies to peoples of all disabilities. We endeavor to work with doctors, caregivers, religious organizations, local and state legislators and the community at large throughout the US to promote the health benefits of cannabis therapeutics and its potential to enhance the quality of life for families who have been affected by autism and other conditions.
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