How Medical Marijuana Distribution Works
Most states that have legalized medical marijuana require that patients register, apply or otherwise obtain permission to receive marijuana as treatment or alternative therapy for certain medical conditions. The extent to which states define medical conditions varies.
However, all states require a doctor’s diagnosis authorizing the treatment. These doctor notes should be procured with a doctor’s office visit and after a full medical history, including medical records.
However, some people bypass this requirement as doctors can use medical discretion (and authority) to decide to prescribe marijuana without reviewing previous medical history.
As a side note, the FDA, DEA and the Office of National Drug Control Policy do not support the use of smoked marijuana for medical purposes.
Medical Use Of Marijuana
Some doctors may recommend marijuana primarily for relief from the symptoms of disease rather than as a cure. Some of these conditions may include:
1. Treatment for symptoms of AIDS
3. Neuropathy (diseases affecting the nerves or nerve cells) Ex. epilepsy
4. Nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy
5. Pain caused by structural or psycho-physiological disorders
6. Muscular spasticity and limb pain (multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury)
7. Symptoms of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome
8. Appetite stimulant for diseases of malnutrition (cachexia or starvation)
9. Nausea and vomiting (general)
10. Migraine headaches
Does The FDA Approve Medical Marijuana?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approved smoked cannabis for medical reasons. Although some aruge that this is a political decision, rather than a medical or scientific decision based on research and analysi, the FDA has approved two drugs, Marinol and Cesamet, for therapeutic uses in the U.S. These drugs contain active ingredients that are present in botanical marijuana but come in the form of a pill. Nonetheless, that the FDA has not approved smoked marijuana for any condition or disease seems rather short-sighted.
Medical Marijuana Debate
What do you think? Should patients be restricted to only taking Marinol or Cesamet? Or should smoked marijuana be considered a medical treatment?
Question: Is Marinol Better than Smoked Marijuana?
My doctor prescribed Marinol to help with my nausea and vomiting. I’m wondering if I’d be better off just smoking some medical marijuana. Is Marinol better than smoked marijuana?
Answer: Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of studies on the comparisons and differences of Marinol and medical marijuana. Marinol is a synthetic form of Delta-9-THC, which is the chemical found in smoked marijuana that treats distressing symptoms. Because marijuana is still classified as a schedule I drug and considered illegal by the U.S. federal government, medical research remains restricted and tightly controlled.
That being said, there are pros and cons to both Marinol and marijuana when it comes to helping with nausea and vomiting.
Marinol is taken orally, thereby eliminating exposure to other chemicals found in marijuana.
Marinol is legal in all 50 states and stocked in pharmacies.
Once it reaches peak levels in the blood, Marinol stays fairly steady and lasts twice as long as marijuana.
Marinol is safe and approved for use by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).
Marinol has a slow onset of action, low absorption rate, and the amount of medication absorbed varies from person to person.
Patients can’t control the dose of medication they need to control the symptom.
Marinol is more expensive to produce than marijuana.
Smoked marijuana has a rapid onset, bringing relief of symptoms quicker than Marinol.
Patients have better control over dosing with smoked marijuana.
Marijuana is easy and inexpensive to grow and distribute.
Marijuana contains over 400 other chemicals and little is known about their effects when inhaled.
Marijuana is still considered illegal by the U.S. federal government, even though several states have passed laws for medicinal use.
Marijuana is not covered by insurance and can be more costly for patients than Marinol.
Smoked marijuana may not be appropriate for use by patients with respiratory disease, including lung cancer.
There is no consensus whether Marinol is more effective than smoked marijuana. If you’re considering smoked medical marijuana, first make sure it is legal in your state. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijauna Laws (NORML) has a list of medical marijuana laws in each state as well as contact information for physicians willing to prescribe it. Always discuss this option with your regular physician and be sure he knows all of the medications you are taking, including herbs and supplements.
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