Medical cannabis (a.k.a. medical marijuana or cannabinoids) is frequently recommended by doctors for their patients for a variety of reasons. While the use of cannabis as a medicine has not been rigorously tested due to production restrictions and other governmental regulations, emerging observations and evidence suggest that cannabis can help patients reduce nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, improve the appetite and weight loss issues in people with HIV/AIDS, and reduce chronic pain and spasticity in certain patients with chronic conditions, in addition to helping with some forms of epilepsy, insomnia, and anxiety. Cannabinoids also may have neuroprotective effects, and may therefore be useful in instances of acute injuries like head trauma and stroke, as well as for chronic neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
Medical marijuana is derived from one of two strains of the Cannabis plant family: Sativa or Indica. Different products of each of this plant’s family contain different amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis), and Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component. Sativa products have higher amounts of THC and lower amounts of CBD, whereas Indica products have lower amounts of THC and higher amounts of CBD. Available clinical studies suggest that a combination of THC and CBD is usually best, depending upon the patient’s needs, to achieve a desired effect due to THC and CBD’s synergistic relationship. Regardless, there should be ongoing clinical supervision to prevent any unwanted, or even harmful, effects.
Marijuana alters one’s consciousness by affecting their nervous system. Depending upon the strain or method of preparation, cannabinoids can be either awakening or sedating – they can slow our reaction time or cause other negative changes in sensory perception, but may also improve a patient’s mood or eliminate social discomfort. Cannabinoids may cause a dissociative effect (awareness detaching from the physical body and one’s environment) or an integrating effect (greater awareness of self and environment). Due to the risk of worsening existing psychiatric conditions or inducing psychiatric illness in those with a genetic predisposition, we recommend that patients with mental health challenges and/or a family history of mental illness exercise caution when using medical marijuana. See an experienced medical provider for specific guidance if medical marijuana is appropriate for your situation, and how to obtain desired results while eliminating the risk of adverse psychiatric effects.
The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) component of medical marijuana is recognized by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as a controlled substance. Because of this federal designation, state-level Departments of Health have to approve medical marijuana cards for the end users in states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana. On November 6, 2018, Missouri voters voted to legalize medical marijuana for the end users and from mid-2019 Missouri Department of Health will begin processing the medical marijuana cards. In order to be approved for this card in Missouri, applicants have to be evaluated by a psychiatrist and meet specific diagnostic criteria. One of the physicians in our group, Dr. David Landau (M.D., Ph.D.), has significant experience in this process and has helped multiple applicants obtain medical marijuana cards in New Mexico, where he was living prior to moving to Missouri.
Please contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Landau, or with any other physician of our practice, at 314-525-5050 to see if you are qualified to receive a medical marijuana card.
For additional resources please visit www.healer.com