Sometimes it takes even those with a high IQ a while to catch on; a little over six months ago, Dr. David Casarett thought medical marijuana was nothing more than an ugly prank played on the American public. “When I first started this project, I really thought of medical marijuana as a joke,” the good doctor informed NPR’s Terry Gross.
Fortunately, as time marches on, occasionally opinions change. As the skeptical palliative care specialist began to drill down on medical marijuana’s many claims, he slowly had a change of heart: “I’ve come to realize there really are medical benefits to medical marijuana. … For many of the patients I spoke with, medical marijuana is not a joke. It’s not funny. It’s a treatment that they’ve come to rely on.”
During his in-depth investigation for his new book, ‘Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana,’ Dr. Casarett scrutinized the scarce medical marijuana research currently available about the plants application in the medical realm, journeyed to medical marijuana states where it’s perfectly legal … and even “tested it” on himself. Casarett interviewed patients who found relief for a variety of ailments by using the plants many cannabinoids – helping those who suffer from epileptic seizures, PTSD and neuropathic pain.
‘Stoned’ explains in great detail the scientific case for marijuana’s medicinal application — and emphasized the need for extensive research into the plants potential long-term effects. “There’s a fair amount of science behind it,” Dr. Casarett noted. “Those are medical benefits that people in the medical marijuana world — including advocates and patients — really take seriously.”
Despite medical marijuana’s many skeptics, Casarett discovered that some of the best evidence pointing to the plant’s cannabinoids as potential medicine was discovered and those who suffered from neuropathy. Generally described as pain that’s caused by the nerves themselves. Unlike pain caused by arthritis or some forms of cancer – where nerve endings of pain fibers are stimulated – neuropathic pain is triggered by the disturbance of (or damage to) the nerves themselves.
From the doctor’s personal experience as a palliative care physician, he understood that neuropathic pain doesn’t respond as well as the average nociceptive pain to Western medicine, such as morphine. Understanding the need to identify creative, new and better treatments for neuropathic pain, Dr. Casarett began concentrating on medical marijuana as a potential treatment for neuropathic pain; cognizant of the fact that the existing options were extremely limited.
Few dispute the war on drugs kept the federal government’s 900 pound foot on the throat of medical marijuana research for decades. Currently in the United States Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic. Lumped together with other social scourges like heroin, LSD, peyote and ecstasy – marijuana has been classified as having no medicinal benefits for decades. And thanks to its ignorant classification by the federal government, any research has been stymied sense.
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