winged logo

Medical Cannabis Benefits

TEDx speaker Dr.Casarett makes a case for a doctor's support for medical cannabis.

NBC News: Doctors see benefits of medical cannabis treatments for seniors.

photograph of Dr. Mary McCormick
Dr. Mary McCormick, chair of the NAS (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine) committee, is a pediatrician with a second doctorate in health services research, with all of her post-graduate training at Johns Hopkins.

photograph of Dr. Anup Patel
Dr. Anup Patel is board certified in neurology with special qualifications in child neurology, epilepsy, and clinical neurophysiology. He is an associate professor for neurology and pediatrics at Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University Medical Center. He is also an associate medical director for Partners for Kids, the nation’s largest pediatric accountable care organization (ACO), and is the director of the complex epilepsy clinic.

Dr. Mary McCormick, Harvard Medical

Discussing the medical benefits of cannabis, Dr. Marie McCormick, chair of the NAS committee and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, said that we need "far more information."

Some of the highlights of her committee's 337-page report on marijuana include:

Medical Benefits, Pain Relief: Regarding chronic pain, there's evidence that patients who are treated with cannabis or cannabinoids "are more likely to experience a significant reduction in pain symptoms," the researchers say. More particularly, for adults with muscle spasms related to multiple sclerosis, there is "substantial evidence," they say, that short-term use of certain oral cannabinoids can improve symptoms. And for adults with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, "there is conclusive evidence" that certain oral cannabinoids are effective in preventing and treating those ailments.

McCormick says, many health questions remain to be answered by better research. The increased legal availability of cannabis products in many states, and their increased potency, she says, make that rigorous research more important than ever.

Anup Patel MD, Ohio State University Medical Center

April 18, 2017, American Academy of Neurology (full article)

Taking cannabidiol (non-psychoactive CBD) may cut seizures in half for some children and adults with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), a severe form of epilepsy, according to new information from a large scale controlled clinical study.

Nearly 40 percent of people with LGS, which starts in childhood, had at least a 50 percent reduction in drop seizures when taking cannabidiol compared to 15 percent taking a placebo. When someone has a drop seizure, their muscle tone changes, causing them to collapse. Children and adults with LGS have multiple kinds of seizures, including drop seizures and tonic-clonic seizures, which involve loss of consciousness and full-body convulsions. The seizures are hard to control and usually do not respond well to medications.

Intellectual development is usually impaired in people with LGS. Although the drop seizures of LGS are often very brief, they frequently lead to injury and trips to the hospital emergency room, so any reduction in drop seizure frequency is a benefit. "Our study found that cannabidiol shows great promise in that it may reduce seizures that are otherwise difficult to control," said study author Anup Patel, MD, of Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

"Our results suggest that cannabidiol may be effective for those with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in treating drop seizures," said Patel. "This is important because this kind of epilepsy is incredibly difficult to treat. There is currently a plan to submit a New Drug Application to the FDA later this year

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Talk explores human beings' dynamic relationship with the cannabis plant and what recent developments might mean for our health and well-being. Zach Walsh is a clinical psychologist and substance use researcher who teaches at UBC.

There are at least two active chemicals in marijuana that researchers think have medicinal applications. Those are cannabidiol (CBD) — which seems to impact the brain without a high— and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which has pain relieving (and other) properties.