Cannabis For Chronic Pain

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I appreciate that Mr. Exum shared the conversation he had with his physician about treating chronic pain. 

Many people with serious medical conditions have turned to cannabis and away from some prescription medications because cannabis gave them better relief.

At the time Illinois became the 20th state to approve a medical marijuana program, Dr. Anthony Reder, a neurologist and specialist in treating Multiple Sclerosis at the University of Chicago was interviewed. He views medical marijuana as an important tool.

“It is just one more drug we have to treat symptoms of MS and the more options I have, the better it is.  It works,” he said, speaking about patients using medical marijuana to treat symptoms such as muscle cramps and spasticity. “A lot of them get it on the streets, at some risk to them, since it's illegal.”

Due to internal processes at the Drug Enforcement Administration, we may never see cannabis removed from Schedule 1. Unless Congress acts, it may always be a federal crime to possess it. (No private firm will pay millions of dollars for a FDA approved study showing cannabis is safe and effective as a medicine since they can not patent the plant .) 

Illinois found an acceptable political solution, with one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the nation. 

Here is the list of qualifying conditions for Illinois medical marijuana patients:

Cancer, glaucoma, HIV, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, agitation of Alzheimer's disease, cachexia, muscular dystrophy, severe fibromyalgia, spinal cord disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Arnold-Chiara malformation and syringomeylia, Spinocerbellar Ataxia, Parkinson's, Tourette's, Myoclonus, Dystonia, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Causalgia, CRPS, Neurofibromatosis, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, Sjogren's syndrome, Lupus, insterstitial cystitis, Myasthenia Gravis, hydrocephalus, nail-patella syndrome, residual limb pain, or any other debilitating medical condition approved by the Department of Public Health. 

An attentive reader will notice the list does not include "chronic pain" as a qualifying condition. Some lawmakers and law enforcement officials have criticized "chronic pain" as being a giant loophole for program abuse.

Perhaps one day, Tennessee will also allow patients to utilize cannabis without fear of state prosecution. 

Matthew Hine

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