Medical Cannabis: A Future Medical Frontier

Our Apparel Shop is space-themed to reflect our view that cannabis represents an exciting frontier in medicine.  We are honored to support and be a part of moving the medical cannabis frontier forward.  The potential for cannabis to improve quality of life is evidenced by the wide range of physical and mental health conditions for which people are eligible to obtain medical cannabis in Maryland  –  MMCC Qualifying Conditions –  much of the US, and around the world.  Indeed, our patients’ experiences bear witness to the life-altering benefits of this extraordinary plant.

Cannabis Prohibition: Political Pretext and Societal Costs

Viewing cannabis as a “frontier” may seem strange given that cannabis cultivation, use and regulation for medicinal, as well as recreational, purposes has a long history in the US.  However, during the 20th century, numerous federal and state laws imposed restrictions on cannabis use, culminating with its inclusion in the “war on drugs” and classification as a Schedule 1 drug.  As we now know, including cannabis in the “war on drugs” was a political expedient with racist roots and targeted at anti-war and African American activists.

As a result of cannabis prohibition, many lives have been severely disrupted by arrest, incarceration, and difficulty finding work thereafter.  Meanwhile, prohibition has substantially limited research in medical cannabis, with only one federally-approved facility in the US.

Cannabis Legislation in Maryland

As recently as 2010, cannabis arrests in Maryland represented nearly 50% of all drug possession arrests.  People of color were overwhelmingly more likely than whites to be arrested for cannabis possession.

Fortunately, change has come, as least for medical cannabis, however slowly:

  • 2003: Maximum fine of $100 for people using marijuana for pain relief
  • 2013: Medical cannabis program initiated; distribution restricted to academic medical centers
  • 2014-2017: Creation of medical cannabis infrastructure, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC); awarding of licenses to grow and process cannabis; first sales of medical cannabis

Is Medical Marijuana legal in the US?

Medical marijuana has seen widespread legalization across the United States, marking a significant shift in the nation’s approach to cannabis for therapeutic use. In fact, it is now legal in a majority of the states. This legal status allows patients with various qualifying medical conditions to access marijuana as part of their treatment regimen, under the guidance of a certified medical professional. The specific conditions and regulations regarding medical marijuana use, including possession limits and whether home cultivation is permitted, can vary significantly from state to state. This increased acceptance marks a significant shift toward recognizing the potential benefits of the plant in treating a wide range of medical conditions, reflecting a broader trend toward legalization for medical and recreational use across the nation.

Doctor writing on prescription blank and bottle with medical cannabis on table close up

Uses of Medical Cannabis

Cannabis has been recognized for its potential therapeutic effects and is used to treat a variety of medical conditions. This wide variety is due to cannabis’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a biological system that controls what’s called homeostasis, or internal balance. It’s responsible for several biological functions, including pain perception, hunger, mood, sleep, and inflammatory immune responses. When cannabis is introduced to the body, it can target these functions and help relieve related symptoms.

One of the most well-documented uses of medical cannabismarijuana is chronic pain management, as seen in this study from the Journal of Pain. Patients with conditions like fibromyalgia could potentially find relief in the use of cannabis, freeing them from the constraints of being chronically ill. Additionally, this natural remedy could offer a lower risk of side effects compared to traditional pain medications, which often come with more severe health risks. The accessibility of medical cannabis could also provide a more cost-effective alternative for long-term treatment, making it an increasingly popular choice among patients and healthcare providers.

Another significant use is in combating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. In fact, a synthetic form of cannabis called Dronabinol has been approved by the FDA to reduce nausea in cancer patients. Dronabinol is also approved to treat anorexia induced by HIV/AIDS. This approval highlights the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in managing symptoms that are often poorly addressed by conventional treatments. Moreover, the endorsement by a regulatory authority like the FDA reassures patients and healthcare providers of the safety and efficacy of this treatment option.

Cannabis shows promise in the treatment of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis (MS). Research available through the medical journal BiomedicinesMDPI details how cannabinoids may ease muscle stiffness, pain, and sleep disturbances that MS patients frequently experience. This treatment could significantly improve daily functioning and quality of life for those afflicted by the chronic symptoms of MS. The anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis are also thought to play a role in reducing overall comfort and aiding in muscle relaxation.

Additionally, there’s growing interest in its application for anxiety relief. While anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabinoids can help reduce anxiety symptoms, more rigorous testing is necessary to provide more solid evidence. Researchers are particularly interested in understanding the dosages, strains, and delivery methods that are most effective for treating anxiety without adverse effects. The ongoing exploration into this area encourages the medical community and the public that a natural and effective solution to anxiety management could be possible.

As researchers continue to uncover more and more benefits of medicinal cannabis, this plant promises new avenues for treatment across a range of diseases, including neurological disorders, mental health conditions, and chronic pain syndromes. Each discovery expands our understanding of cannabis’s therapeutic potential and offers hope to patients seeking alternative treatments when traditional medications fail to provide relief.

Our Medical Cannabis Patient Stories

As a result of prohibition, much of what is known about the therapeutic potential of cannabis is derived from a small body of research and anecdotal reports from cannabis consumers.

As a dispensary agent at Peake ReLeaf, I have had the privilege of hearing from many patients and caregivers about how cannabis has improved lives  –  in some cases dramatically.

One patient, in particular, has been very generous in sharing her journey with cannabis. Since childhood, she has valiantly struggled with a complicated combination of physical and mental health conditions.  Cannabis has enabled, indeed empowered, her to regain some control over her life. This medicine has helped her manage chronic pain and nausea, wean herself off opioids, while also helping to stabilize her mood.  Furthermore, she gives cannabis 100% credit for her ability to work and to power through some days that previously would have left her in bed or on a couch.

Reports from caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease are similarly memorable. One spouse shared that but for medical cannabis she would not be able to care for her husband at home.  Cannabis helped address the aggression, agitation and irritability that her husband sometimes experienced and also helped him sleep through the night.  A caregiver son reported similar benefits for his mother.  From the perspective of these caregivers, medical cannabis was essential to their loved ones’ well-being.

Patients have also discussed using cannabis for a variety of other issues, including:

  • As an aid in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction
  • As an alternative to opioids following injury, surgery, or chronic pain
  • In conjunction with prescription medications for depression and anxiety, or as an alternative to these drugs which sometimes have undesirable side effects
  • For pain and nausea related to cancer and treatments

Peake ReLeaf Apparel: On a Mission Towards Health, Well-Being and Joy

So, cannabis truly poses a frontier in medicine, with a need for research exploring therapeutic and clinical purposes. Hopefully, more and more barriers to research and funding will fall.

The space theme of our Apparel Shop reflects this frontier and promotes the use of cannabis for elevating health, well-being and joy – and, of course, some fun. As we can all relate, life is about striving towards being our best selves, whatever hardships and obstacles arise. The message of “Going Up” in our apparel reflects that medical cannabis can be – and for many people is – an integral part of that journey.  Cannabis helps patients rise from their baseline of various forms of suffering to achieve balance.  The imagery of an astronaut sitting in Zen meditation is about becoming aligned with one’s inner self, freed from the shackles of medical conditions that can be overwhelming, sabotage relationships and ambitions, and impede the ability to experience joy.

Join us in the exploration of this medical frontier and the promising future of cannabis.

Take control of your well-being today! Visit our medical dispensary menu to discover a range of carefully curated products tailored to your needs. Namaste. 

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