Op-EdOpinion

MACIAS: Debunking Myths About Medical Cannabis

Cannabis has been used as a medicinal therapy for thousands of years. According to History.com, most ancient cultures grew the plant as herbal medicine, likely starting in Asia around 500 B.C.

Today, millions of Americans use medical cannabis every day to ease the symptoms and treatment-related side effects of numerous chronic and progressive diseases and conditions, including ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, cancer, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Despite its long history and proven effectiveness, numerous misconceptions about medical cannabis persist. Let’s break down some of the most common ones:

Medical cannabis makes you high

Not all forms of medical cannabis can make you high. When we refer to medical cannabis, people remember the most popular cannabinoids in the plant, THC and CBD, although there are over 140 known cannabinoids. CBD does not have an intoxicating effect. THC does cause feelings of euphoria, or a “high” effect. CBD can make you feel less anxious and more relaxed and reduce the effects of feeling intoxicated when combined with THC.

Marijuana today is stronger than the marijuana of the past

All cannabis strains are different, with different cannabinoids, potencies and terpenes compositions. The cannabis plant has evolved through time from strains, becoming more or less potent in THC composition. With thousands of cannabis strains available, it truly depends on the plant and is up to the patient to select a strain of cannabis to achieve their health care goals.

There is not enough evidence that medical cannabis is an effective therapy

In the United States, it has been prohibited to conduct studies on medical cannabis due to policies and procedures put into place to create a pipeline to prison for patients that used cannabis as a health care solution. It definitely helped fund tons of private prisons and oppressed a population of Black and brown people. Fortunately, research in international countries has shown the efficacy of medical cannabis as it relates to specific ailments and conditions, known as qualifying conditions for a legal state medical cannabis program.

Thousands, if not millions, of patients have used medical cannabis for a health care solution and have seen a better quality of life. The growing demand of the people (patients) with successful health care outcomes is the reason why medical marijuana has been legalized in at least 34 states. It is time that our failing health care system embraces the efficacy of a medicine that works and rejects the narrative that imprisoned a population of patients.

Medical cannabis kills brain cells

There is no scientific evidence that medical cannabis kills healthy brain cells. What we have seen in patients who have treated themselves with medical cannabis is that it does kill cancerous cells. Patients have used medical cannabis to treat and reduce the symptoms of cancer.

Medical cannabis is addictive

There is no scientific evidence on addiction as it relates to medical cannabis. Patients that use it for health care treatment may have to use it until the underlying issue in the body is resolved. This is not addiction, but treatment. More importantly, medical cannabis is used as opioid replacement therapy for patients who are at high risk for overdose or have pain management issues. There is no evidence of a patient overdosing on medical cannabis due to the molecular nature of the medicine.

Medical cannabis can cause cancer

Patients have used medical cannabis to treat and reduce the symptoms of cancer. In scientific terms, it is suggested that apoptosis, or programmed cell death, occurs in cancerous cells when a formulated amount of medical cannabis is utilized. Please note: All cancers are different; therefore, formulations, doses and regimens are different for each patient, referred to as individualized health care.

Medical marijuana is ‘one-size-fits-all

Different ailments and conditions require specific strains, dosages, and product forms to address individualized health care needs.  The medical cannabis industry consists of thousands of plants, with specific expressions of terpenes, cannabinoids, and other natural ingredients that may treat diagnosis conditions or the symptoms related to the condition. There is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution for patients that have different diseases, stages, and restrictions on the consumption of medical cannabis products. Working with educated health care providers can assist with a better quality of life due to addressing the individualized health care need.

About the Author:

Dr. Chanda Macias (Ph.D) is a cannabis pioneer and multistate operator (MSO) with a passion for finding innovative ways to meet patient needs with holistic health care solutions. She has spent more than a decade developing her knowledge of medical marijuana to have a positive impact on people’s lives and has been featured in The New York Times, Marie Claire, and Forbes, and on “CBS This Morning.” Since 2015, she has been the CEO of Washington, D.C.-based National Holistic Healing Center (NHHC), which provides educational and support services to safely integrate medical cannabis into people’s health and wellness regimens. Macias also serves as CEO of Ilera Holistic Health care, CEO and chairwoman of the board of Women Grow, vice chair of the National Cannabis Roundtable Board, and is on the board of directors for the Minority Cannabis Business Association and related organizations.

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