As of 2022, 39 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use. Marijuana’s proven effectiveness in assisting patients with various ailments has led the vast majority of states to allow its citizens to partake in marijuana’s proven benefits.
While the number of states that allow marijuana for medical use is high and continues to grow, it still remains a schedule I drug on a federal level. According to the DEA, Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. This means the majority of the states have approved marijuana for medical use, but the deferral government still defines marijuana as having no accepted medical use.
This legal conundrum has put medical marijuana in a state of limbo. States can prescribe marijuana to patients in need, but at the same time there is a limited ability for doctors and scientists to conduct necessary studies to unlock medical marijuana’s true potential. There have been many proven benefits to medical marijuana, but significantly more research must be done to understand its true medical potential.
One area where it’s becoming more understood is neurology. According to the Premier Neurology & Wellness Center, “Although medical marijuana may not be ideal for treating every neurological condition, it has proven to be especially effective in managing seizures, multiple sclerosis, and muscular dystrophy.” While this is optimistic news for those with multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy, there are many other neurological disorders that could potentially benefit from further research and studies.
Take neurological disorders like aphasia for example. It’s the condition actor Bruce Willis was recently diagnosed with, and why he has decided to step away from acting. While studies have shown it to assist other neurological disorders, there have not been nearly enough studies done to understand whether or not marijuana can help with aphasia therapy.
“Aphasia is a condition that robs you of the ability to communicate. It can affect your ability to speak, write and understand language, both verbal and written,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Currently, aphasia is treated using a variety of therapies, including speech and other cognitive therapies. There have not been enough studies to understand if medical marijuana can assist in aphasia therapy.
More research needed
It is important to conduct significantly more research studies on various neurological disorders like aphasia. After all, marijuana has already proven to be an effective option when treating some symptoms associated with neurological disorders.
“In general, cannabis can be a safe option to help with muscle spasms, pain, anxiety, and sleep that may be related to the primary condition (Aphasia) or the secondary effects of the primary condition,” Eloise Theisen, Leaf411 Chief Nursing Officer and board certified Adult Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, told The Fresh Toast. “We encourage anyone exploring cannabis with this condition to work with a knowledgeable cannabis healthcare professional to weigh the risks versus benefits of a cannabinoid treatment.”
The American Academy of Neurology wrote about its inability to properly research medical marijuana and its potential benefits in its official position on the matter: “The federal government currently classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Efforts to conduct rigorous medical research and/or reclassify marijuana in the DEA schedule will increase the potential for additional scientific data to inform clinicians and medical professionals.”
There is no denying that medical marijuana has come a long way in just a few years. It is now helping more Americans than ever before. Until the federal government takes a new stance on marijuana and the way it is scheduled as a drug, however, many of its medicinal benefits may continue to remain elusive to many of those it can help.