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    Fibromyalgia and Medical Marijuana

    What the experts have to say about the use of marijuana for treating fibromyalgia.
    (continued)

    Is medical marijuana legal? continued...

    Marijuana, LSD, and heroin were all initially placed in Schedule I -- the most addictive, and least medically useful, category.

    To further entangle the legal issues, several states have passed their own controlled substance laws that conflict with federal laws. That includes drug policy reforms and "compassionate use" laws that allow patients with terminal and debilitating diseases to use medical marijuana. In order to be able to use it, a patient needs to have documentation from a doctor.

    The American Chronic Pain Society says in ACPA Medications & Chronic Pain, Supplement 2007: "Some states allow the legal use of marijuana for health purposes including pain, while the federal government continues to threaten physicians with prosecution for prescribing it."

    The uses of medical marijuana

    "Medical marijuana has many uses," Abrams says. "It increases appetite while decreasing nausea and vomiting. It also works against pain and may be synergistic with pain medications, helps people sleep, and improves mood. I think it's a shame that we don't allow people to access that medicine."

    Medical marijuana doesn't "cure" disease. But patients worldwide have used it to relieve a variety of symptoms, including:

    • increased intraocular pressure from glaucoma
    • nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy for cancer
    • pain, muscle spasticity, and insomnia from spinal cord injury
    • pain, stiffness, and muscle spasticity from multiple sclerosis
    • weight loss and loss of appetite from HIV

    In 2003, Abrams published a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine on the interaction between medical marijuana and protease inhibitors in AIDS patients. "We showed that there was no real downside to smoking cannabis for these patients. It didn't interfere with their immune system. In fact, it might have been beneficial to their immune system in the end."

    The pros and cons of medical marijuana for pain

    Abrams found that medical marijuana worked for patients with HIV and peripheral neuropathy (painful, damaged nerves). That study was published in TheJournal of Neurology in 2007. "We did a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial that demonstrated that smoked cannabis was effective in this situation," says Abrams. "The people who say there's no evidence that smoked marijuana has any medicinal benefits really can't say that anymore. The drug was quite comparable to the best available treatment we currently have for painful peripheral neuropathy."

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