Medical Marijuana For Alzheimer’sKatie Taylor
Whether you light up regularly or wouldn’t even think about taking a puff, marijuana is getting easier to come by. Currently, Rolling Stone cites nine states (as well as the District of Columbia) where recreational marijuana use is legal, though the laws governing where you can use it, when, and how much vary by state.
Its legality is further muddled by the fact that cannabis in general (the plant from which marijuana is derived) is illegal on the federal level. But the ambiguity hasn’t stopped some states from legalizing it for recreational use, and the list of approved conditions for medical marijuana use is growing. Minnesota has now joined the ranks of states where medical marijuana can be prescribed for Alzheimer’s patients.
According to Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, there is “some evidence” that the substance could help Alzheimer’s patients improve mood, sleep, and behavior. She also notes that policy decisions are challenging because of a lack of published evidence on the effect of cannabis on various physical and mental conditions.
That may be changing. Clinical trials in New York and California starting in 2018 will study the effect of cannabis on autism, and the World Health Organization gave CBD, a non-addictive and non-toxic element in cannabis, the green light for the treatment of some health conditions.
Certainly cannabis has been touted as a miracle drug for cancer, AIDS, MS, and the more severe effects of autism. But those claims have been hard to validate—it’s hard to get funding for trials on an illegal substance.
But for Alzheimer’s patients in Minnesota, medical marijuana will now be an option to help cope with symptoms. Alzheimer’s is also approved for medical marijuana in Ohio, North Dakota, Michigan, and Arizona.
The Alzheimer’s Society notes that cannabis cannot prevent Alzheimer’s, though there have been studies claiming that some of its elements may help prevent dementia. But the society feels there is no reliable evidence to support this theory, and they call for more study to confirm cannabis’s effect on the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Currently, states where medical marijuana is available approve its use for conditions such as:
- Cancer-related pain and nausea
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Terminal illness
Note this is not an exhaustive list, and approved conditions vary by state.