Who is legally eligible to purchase medical Cannabis in Louisiana?
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that currently has no known cause or a particularly effective single treatment. In Louisiana, not all autism patients yet qualify for Cannabis medicines, but it’s restricted to those diagnosed with: (1) repetitive or self-stimulatory behavior of such severity that the physical health of the person with autism is jeopardized, (2) avoidance of others or inability to communicate of such severity that the physical health of the person with autism is jeopardized, (3) self-injuring behavior, or (4) physically aggressive or destructive behavior.
For the autism patients who do enjoy some measure of relief from treatment with Cannabis medicines, it is postulated that some formulations of the medicine may work as a mild sedative and tranquilizing agent. There is speculation that the biological endocannabinoid (ECS) system of autistic patients may be different from that found in others and if an intact and functioning system is lacking in the ASD population, then supplying deficient cannabinoids to the deficient or dysfunctioning ECS may yield beneficial results.
Improved urge to eat is the second most commonly reported feeling experienced by those who have ingested Cannabis. In the lingo of the Cannabis counter-culture, people have long dubbed this “the munchies.” Several studies have shown that subjects given THC had increased caloric intake. Although it doesn’t work for all patients, the goal of Cannabis clinicians treating people suffering from cachexia is to stimulate hunger, control nausea and to restore feelings of interest in food again. Cannabis also presents fewer negative side effects than steroids, human growth hormones and other drugs currently given for cachexia.
Beyond treating symptoms, though, Cannabis can also help block the unregulated growth of cancer cells. There is evidence to suggest that cannabinoids may play a role in the cancer regulation processes. CBD and THC have demonstrated immunological capacity in making it harder for certain cancer cells to grow. Cannabis works on cancer in three main ways: (1) It can cause cancer cell death, (2) It can block blood vessel development to tumors, and 3) It improves the immune system.
In Israel, where some of the top Cannabis research occurs, a small study of Crohn’s patients found that Cannabis treatment resulted in symptom remission in more than half of the participants. Cannabinoids modulate gut pain and visceral sensation in a variety of experimental models, which supports patient reports of Cannabis medicines providing distraction and relief from Crohn’s-related pain.
Epilepsy or Seizure Disorders
Over 30% of patients diagnosed with some form of epilepsy are unable to gain control of their seizures with conventional treatments. Success rates, however, in treating epilepsy with Cannabis and demonstrated in multiple studies have been significant enough that one pharmaceutical company developed a drug that recently became the first FDA approved Cannabis extracted medicine. Many scientists believe that the principal method of action demonstrated by Cannabis is in activating cannabinoid receptors and activating ion channels to help decrease seizures.
In 2003, the American Academy of Ophthalmology published a position statement reading, “Some derivatives of marijuana did result in lowering of IOP when administered orally, intravenously or by smoking…” Over 43,000 Louisianans suffer from glaucoma and while Cannabis may temporarily relieve IOP in some patients, it does not cure the disease. For patients who suffer from negative side effects stemming from standard therapies, the right Cannabis medicine may be a good option for managing IOP and other symptoms.
Note: Cannabis can decrease blood supply to the optic nerve and thus should be carefully considered and monitored by one’s eye care professional.
Studies on Cannabis for AIDS patients have confirmed a beneficial effect on food intake and body weight and decreased nausea. The stimulation of appetite from one dose can last 24 hrs. or longer. The modern medical marijuana movement began in the early 1980s when it was noted that Cannabis use by patients suffering from AIDS-related nausea improved their wellbeing. To date, there is no credible evidence of cross-reactivity or drug interactions between Cannabis medicines, retroviral medicines and other medications commonly used to treat HIV infection.
One of the oldest known uses for therapeutic Cannabis was as an analgesic (drug relieving pain). The National Center for Health Statistics reports that chronic pain affects 80 – 100 million adults and since the 1990s, has become an American epidemic. Cannabis medicines are safer and work well alone or together with opioids or anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen. The Journal of the American Medical Association observed that medical Cannabis states had a 24.8% less annual opioid overdose deaths than states without them.
Cannabis has been used as an effective treatment for MS patients for decades. MS patients have generally reported that Cannabis acts as a potent and fast-acting muscle relaxant, a pain reliever, it lessens spasticity, helps with depression, reduces fatigue and incontinence, but it also serves as a neuroprotectant and can boost immune system function. It is safe treatment in its own right, but also as an adjunct to one’s current medications and can reduce the negative side effects of their prescribed pharmaceuticals. There is now evidence to suggest that cannabinoids may work as a direct treatment of the disease, but it is also a well-established treatment for alleviating the symptoms of MS.
Louisiana joins only four other states in embracing muscular dystrophy as a qualifying condition. Despite the fact that perhaps fewer than 150 Louisiana patients suffer from the disease, legislators agreed to include these patients and should be commended for giving these individuals a chance. Whether Cannabis ever emerges as a cure for this deadly disease or whether it simply works to treat symptoms, it is an appropriate therapeutic option for consideration. Either way, therapeutic Cannabis likely offers a brighter future or an alternate avenue for relief for people suffering from this disease.
PD generally affects people over the age of sixty. The use of Cannabis medicines in the treatment of PD, as is the case with many disease states, is presently inconclusive and so it is clear that much more research into this treatment is necessary. Nevertheless, there have been some very promising studies published in the area over the past fifteen years. Analysis of different motor symptoms revealed significant improvement for tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, pain reduction and sleep quality. In addition to the cannabidiol or CBD in Cannabis delaying the progression of PD due to its neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it can reduce general symptoms and motor symptoms and improve overall quality of life.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD
Since the antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and antipsychotics typically prescribed for PTSD patients can cause severe side effects and have demonstrated only modest effectiveness, many are desperate for a less toxic and more effective treatment. For some, that option is Cannabis. Yet this is another long neglected or understudied area of Cannabis science that merits further review and deeper inquiry. We do know that when cannabinoid receptors in a patient’s nervous system are triggered by THC, their PTSD symptoms often subside.
One of the targets for cannabinoids is in the regulation of creation, consolidation and extinguishing of emotional memories. There is now evidence that cannabinoids including cannabidiol (CBD) can reduce the acute response to stress, the negative response to the perceived threat and simultaneously still support the extinction of the source fear to help reduce the acute anxiety experienced by PTSD sufferers.
Treating physicians typically must find the best treatment for the associated symptoms and some of the major symptoms caused by this disorder have shown notable improvement from therapeutic Cannabis medicine. These include: chronic pain, muscle spasticity, seizures, sleep disturbance, anxiety and depression. With no known cure at present, the primary focus of modern medicine for this disease is on treatment and controlling the associated side effects rather than on a cure. However, the limited studies that have been conducted have shown favorable results and there is significant anecdotal evidence supporting the use of Cannabis as a positive treatment option for these patients.
Spasticity/Severe Muscle Spasms
Anecdotally, Cannabis has long been observed to reduce muscle spasm and spasticity. THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in particular reduces spasticity, but how? In one study from California in 2012, researchers studied the efficacy of inhaled Cannabis on both MS pain and spasticity in particular. Participating patients were evaluated and the results showed a significant reduction in spasticity when patients received Cannabis rather than the placebo. There is strong evidence that those Cannabis medicines combining both THC and CBD in an oral dose rather than isolates of either are what works best for reducing spasticity in patients.