Missouri resident can’t use medical marijuana he needs
The problem of access to medical marijuana and cannabidiol in the state of Missouri is illustrated by the story of Tom Poor in the Joplin Globe. Poor is a retired soldier who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, possibly caused by exposure to toxic chemicals during the Vietnam War. His symptoms include tremors, slurred speech and other problems. He uses conventional drugs for his tremors, but he thinks that they are damaging his internal organs, and he believes that marijuana is an effective treatment.
Though almost half the U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana, Missouri has not. Therefore, Poor has to leave the state in order to take marijuana. He and his wife went to Colorado, where it is legal, and tried a vaporizer that contained the drug. After taking several puffs, he found that his tremors soon stopped for three hours. Further inhalation of the drug ended the tremors once more.
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Leaving the country is an option if legalization fails
Poor thinks that progression of his Parkinson’s can be delayed by using marijuana, but if Missouri does not legalize it, he may move to Toronto, where he can use it for medical purposes. A November 2016 election may determine whether Missouri accepts cannabidiol use for therapeutic reasons. A recent bill to legalize marijuana actually failed to get approval by a single vote in Missouri. The current proposal that may be voted on in November would allow patients with specific conditions including Parkinson’s to receive a card from a doctor that approved marijuana usage. It would also allow such patients to grow their own under strict rules.
Missouri divided over legalization
Despite the trend towards legalization in America, cannabidiol therapy is a divisive subject. Keeping Missouri Kids Safe, a coalition that includes doctors, thinks that medical use of marijuana would lead to more recreational use, especially by children. Eye doctor John Hagan notes that it contains toxins and isn’t grown to any set standard. But Missouri doctors such as Rick Lehman support its legalization and see it as a safe alternative to addictive and potentially fatal opioids. Since the FDA has not approved it, doctors often won’t recommend it, though medications containing cannabinoids are already FDA approved.
Scientific studies show promise
Scientific study of the issue shows both positive and negative effects. The National Institute of Drug Abuse notes that marijuana smokers have a higher risk of lung infections and 30% can become addicted, though it also acknowledges that cannabinoids such as THC may be able to treat pain and other symptoms. According to the Globe, the director of the National Parkinson Foundation stated in 2014 that some evidence shows marijuana causes mild to significant alleviation of symptoms in Parkinson’s patients. However, the studies need to become more rigorous, he added.
This study covered 22 Parkinson’s patients who smoked cannabis. They showed significant improvement in several symptoms including tremors 30 minutes after they smoked. Their sleep also improved and their pain decreased. The authors note that only larger, controlled studies can validate these results.
But smoking marijuana and getting high in the process may not be the only solution. Early trials show that cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis that is also the basis for certain extracts, may have positive effects for Parkinson’s patients, but further studies are required to verify this result.