Over the past two decades, medical cannabis has become an alternative treatment option for many medical patients across the globe.
While medical studies in this area are by no means complete, there have been many promising findings both in the medical lab and outside of it, which may be indicators of future treatments that could be based on medical cannabis. A disease called Parkinson’s disease has recently moved to the forefront of medical investigation involving medical cannabis treatments.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that occurs when there is a slow reduction in the amount of dopamine produced in the human brain’s nerve cells. Dopamine is the brain chemical that allows coordinated and smooth muscle movements in the body.
Because the disease affects a person’s movements and begins gradually, and because there is no laboratory test for the disease, it can be difficult to spot early on. Through a thorough examination of a patient’s medical history and repeated neurological exams, most cases can be diagnosed. Parkinson’s disease is not generally diagnosed in younger people; age 60 is the age when it usually begins to affect a patient. For the disease to affect a patient noticeably, 60-80 percent of a patient’s nerve cells must be affected. Early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Tremors or shaking
- Small handwriting
- Loss of sense of smell
- Difficulty sleeping
- Moving or walking issues
- Soft or low voice
- Masked face
While Parkinson’s disease is not fatal, complications from it can be, and there is no cure. The goal of treatment is to provide the most high-quality life possible once the disease has been diagnosed.
What are the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?
There are four main stages of Parkinson’s disease, all accompanied by their own symptoms. Stage one involves mild symptoms that do not interfere with normal, everyday activities of patients – tremor and other movement symptoms occur, but only on one side of the body. Changes in posture, walking, and facial expressions may become apparent to friends or family at this stage.
In stage two, tremors and rigidity may appear on both sides of the body, and walking and posture issues are obvious. Daily tasks may become more difficult or take longer, but the patient should still be self-sufficient. Stage three often includes loss of balance and slower movements, possibly with frequent falls. Independence is still possible, but dressing and eating may become more and more difficult at this stage.
In stage four, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may require help from a walker and help with daily tasks – this usually results in a loss of independence. Help from family, a friend, or a nurse that either visits daily or lives with the patient may now be required. In stage five, leg stiffness may prevent the patient from walking, and require 24-hour nursing care. Although most symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are commonly associated with physical issues, the following non-motor symptoms are also common, particularly in stage five:
- Depression and anxiety
- Issues with focused attention, planning, slow thoughts, language and memory
- Personality changes
- Dementia, hallucinations, or delusions
- Orthostatic hypotension
- Sleep disorders
- Lack of appetite
- Pain and fatigue
- Vision problems
- Excessive sweating
- Sexual issues
- Weight loss or gain
- Impulsive control disorders
What Medical Treatments are Available for Parkinson’s Disease?
Among the types of medical treatment that have been shown to decrease symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are surgery, deep brain stimulation (DBS), and various prescribed medications (most common are carbidopa/levodopa, Sinemet, Azilect, Mirapex, ropinirole, and Requip). In DBS, surgically implanted electrodes in the brain block electrical pulses from nerve cells that cause unwanted movements, stopping tremors and other Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
A doctor may use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans to identify parts of the brain producing unwanted movements prior to surgery. DBS uses surgical insertion of a neurostimulator (similar in size to a stopwatch or heart pacemaker) which delivers to electrical stimulation to targeted brain areas. DBS usually involves the thalamus, subthalamic nucleus, and the globus pallidus. DBS is used only for patients who do not respond to other medications and treatments, and is an invasive procedure. Medical cannabis could help prevent such a procedure, and provide an option that Parkinson’s disease patients could use in the privacy of their own homes.
How Can Medical Cannabis Help Parkinson’s Disease Patients?
The National Parkinson’s Foundation acknowledges the current medical cannabis investigations occurring for Parkinson’s disease patients, noting that several anecdotal reports show reduced tremors in Parkinson’s patients. “Ride with Larry” is a three-part documentary involving Larry, a man with severe Parkinson’s disease who chose to consume medical cannabis to help with his tremors and other symptoms. Because medical cannabis can interact with neurological cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), it affects the brain and can calm tremors in some patients.
In general, people with Parkinson’s disease have fewer CB1 receptors than people without it; boosting CB1 receptors with medical cannabis seems to alleviate dyskinesia and reduce tremors. The difficulty of conducting medical cannabis trials for Parkinson’s disease has been and is still affected by national and international laws regarding the use of medical cannabis, as well as the difficulty of conducting a double-blind, placebo controlled trial with medical cannabis. However, some patients are positive that medical cannabis helps their tremors, and have posted videos of the treatment working on websites such as YouTube. In one pilot study, nabilone (a cannabinoid receptor agonist) significantly reduced dyskinesia in seven patients with Parkinson’s disease. Several other studies have shown different results, including tic benefits but no dyskinesia benefits.
A more recent study conducted in Europe has demonstrated that some Parkinson’s patients enjoy both pain relief and improved motor function following medical cannabis treatments. Parkinson’s disease patients in areas of the world where medical cannabis is legal have the option to discuss this form of treatment with their doctors or healthcare professionals if they are not responding to medications or DBS, but more clinical trials are needed to find reliable results for this treatment.
PotNetwork Holding Inc. (OTC: POTN) announced that Tommy Chong, counter-culture legend, marijuana legalization advocate and half of the incomparable creative team of Cheech & Chong, has selected its subsidiary, Diamond CBD, Inc., as his partner to introduce a proprietary brand of hemp-derived CBD oil products, under the brand name, Chong’s Choice CBD. Tommy’s brand will include CBD-infused edibles, concentrated solvent-free vaping additives and hemp oil tincture drops. Production of the new line is expected to begin within a month, with immediate online availability. As Tommy’s partner, Diamond CBD will offer the new brand to its distribution channels and assist in overall marketing. Tommy Chong stated, “I use Diamond CBD products and love them. They help me relax and often soothe the occasional pain of an old stoner.” He continued, “I want to be part of this 21st century CBD revolution which promises unprecedented health benefits to millions of people and Diamond CBD has a premier line of products, many of which I am pleased to bring to the market under my brand.”
Gary Blum, Chief Executive Officer, PotNetwork Holding, added, “We are honored to get to work closely with Tommy, and anticipate this partnership will further solidify Diamond CBD as the category leader in beneficial CBD products.”
Berkeley, CA: Pain patients report successfully substituting cannabis for opioids and other analgesics, according to data published online in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and Kent State University in Ohio assessed survey data from a cohort of 2,897 self-identified medical cannabis patients.
Among those who acknowledged having used opioid-based pain medication within the past six months, 97 percent agreed that they were able to decrease their opiate intake with cannabis. Moreover, 92 percent of respondents said that cannabis possessed fewer adverse side-effects than opioids. Eighty percent of respondents said that the use of medical cannabis alone provided greater symptom management than did their use of opioids.
Among those respondents who acknowledged having recently taken nonopioid-based pain medications, 96 percent said that having access to cannabis reduced their conventional drug intake. Ninety-two percent of these respondents opined that medical cannabis was more effective at treating their condition than traditional analgesics.
The study’s conclusions are similar to those of several others, such as these here, here, here, here, and here, finding reduced prescription drug use and spending by those with access to cannabis. Separate studies report an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid-related abuse, hospitalizations, traffic fatalities, and overdose deaths.
For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: email@example.com. Full text of the study, “Cannabis as substitute for opioid-based pain medication: patient self-report,” appears in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
Criticism of the cannabis lawThe struggle for cannabis
In March the policy was celebrated: cannabis on prescription – a breakthrough! But many patients are dissatisfied. The funds do not want to pay the costs, the pharmacies are struggling with supply bottlenecks. The fight for hemp is in full swing.
By Christin Jordan, SWR
Magdalena Sebelka has epilepsy, ADHD and severe asthma. She has already tried a few medications – helped only cannabis.
As with the 10th of March, cannabis can be prescribed for prescription and bought at the pharmacy. The new law makes it possible for the funds to pay the costs. As far as the theory. Practically, around 1000 people in Germany have already been allowed to buy and consume cannabis products in pharmacies with an exception. But they had to pay it out of their own pocket.
In severe diseases such as cancer, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis or pain patients, medical cannabis is used for therapy. The hemp blossoms are imported, certified cultivating plants are available in Canada, the USA and the Netherlands.
Fighting with the health insurance companies
The young woman has an exception license, issued by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. So far she has received a prescription from the doctor and has been able to buy and consume hemp flowers – at her own expense. Your hope in the law was great. Then the disappointment: your doctor prescribes her the drug, but she must continue to pay for it herself. The checkout refuses to take over the costs.
According to the law, the first regulation has to be submitted and approved by a health insurance company at the health insurance – but this is rejected by Sebelkas Kasse. It is not proven that cannabis is the only active ingredient that helps her.
Many affected parties also report in Internet forums about the struggle with the coffers. Your guess: It’s about money. Because cannabino therapy is expensive – an average patient costs around 9000 euros per year.
Cannabis as a last resort
The leading association of statutory health insurance funds rejects the charge of wanting to save costs. The funds would have to adhere to the law whereby cannabis products can only be used as cash-in-service if no other therapy helps.
In addition, since the entry into force of the Act on 10th March, 1000 cost-taking has already been approved by the funds, so the number of legal cannabis users has risen significantly.
But why do people with an old exception permit like Magda Sebelka not automatically claim to be covered by the health insurance funds provided for by the new law? According to Speaker Florian Lanz, there is no legal basis for this. There was no provision for the existence of existing populations for the old patients; every regulation had to be examined separately, which could also reject cash applications – as in many other therapies.
Legal, but expensive
One gram of cannabis flowers costs 25 euros in the pharmacy – a lot of money for those who are self-paying. Sebelka reports that since the introduction of the law the price of medical cannabis products has almost doubled. The reason was that the pharmacists had to calculate the goods according to the German drug regulation. The German Association of German Pharmacists’ Associations rejects this – cannabis has always had to be treated as a medicinal product like any other medicinal plant. “I can not understand the alleged price increases,” explains deputy press singer Ursula Sellerberg.
But patients who have accepted the cost of taking over the costs can still not breathe. Medical cannabis is currently scarce, the foreign suppliers can not meet the needs. “Of ten cannabis medicines, I can only offer one at the moment”, says the chief pharmacist Martin Schmidt. He can only provide his regular customers – if new cash patients with cannabis recipes came, they probably went empty. Schmidt sees the fault with the policy: “The law was a quick shot, one had to have thought about where these quantities of medical cannabis products should come from.”
A quick solution is not in sight. Germany wants to build a state cannabis agency and control cannabis cultivation – however only two years. Until then, Magda Sebelka may perhaps consume at the expense of the cash box cannabis – she complains in an urgent case against the decision.
Your opinion about:Kritik am Gesetz für legalen Cannabiskonsum
July 26, 2017 – 11:22
ICBC BERLIN will be held April 12-13, 2018 in Berlin Germany.
Tommy Chong and his CHONGS CHOICE offerings http://chongschoice.us/ were well-received by the international cannabis executives this year and rumor has it he will be there again in 2018.
For more information on this HIGHLY RECOMMENDED event, please go to:
An official with a large Canadian producer of medical cannabis is confident consumers will be adequately supplied come next July, but says production will need to be increased.
“Right now, the existing capacity and what is already envisioned will not be sufficient to meet the needs of the adult consumer market,” Cam Battley, executive vice-president of Aurora Cannabis Inc., said in an interview Monday.
He has urged other companies to ramp up their production ahead of next July 1, when recreational marijuana is expected to be legalized.
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“We need to expand our capacity right away simply to meet the demands of the rapidly growing medical cannabis system,” Battley said. “When the demand of the adult consumer system is layered on top of that, it’s a rush to build as much capacity as possible.”
Battley made the comments on the same day that Aurora began trading common shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Alberta-based Aurora, one of several producers now listed on the TSX, is building what it describes as the world’s largest cannabis production facility at Edmonton International Airport.
Battley said Canada has a well-developed and successful medical cannabis system.
“This is a coming of age, not just for Aurora, but for the cannabis sector and what we’re seeing now is that Canada has established itself as the world leader in a brand new emerging industry that we are literally inventing in real time,” he said.
Battley added that officials from around the world have been coming to his facility in Alberta to visit and to learn how Canada has been so successful both on the medical side and on the consumer side.
“There’s something very big happening and it’s a global movement and it is being led out of Canada.”
Jordan Sinclair, director of communications for Canopy Growth Corp., another major medical cannabis producer, agrees.
“There’s no doubt that we already are …that Canada is the global leader in cannabis on the medical side certainly,” he said.
“The demand doesn’t seem to be slowing down on the medical side of things and then with recreation, obviously that’s a massive market opportunity.”
Sinclair pointed out that Canopy, whose headquarters are in a former Hershey chocolate factory in Smiths Falls, southwest of Ottawa, was first listed on the big board of the TSX in July 2016.
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“We’re very proud to have done that before anyone else in the country,” he added. “It does seem like now the pace is speeding up with other companies following in our footsteps (and) it signals that there is credibility across the sector.”
On its website, Health Canada says there are more than 52 authorized licensed producers of cannabis for medical purposes.
Ontario has issued 29 licences, followed by British Columbia with 12.