Until 1942, marijuana was prescribed by the medical profession as a compassionate drug for the relief of chronic pain. This changed when it was taken off the list of commonly available drugs in the U.S. Phamacopoeia. By 1970, it had been listed as a drug with no medical usefulness and a potential for abuse or addiction.
For people with fibromyalgia, a condition that’s hard to treat and impossible to cure, medical marijuana may be the only answer. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that affects the entire body. Other symptoms include restless leg syndrome, depression and anxiety. Typical treatment involves the use of multiple pharmaceutical drugs, but for many suffering this debilitating condition, these drugs are not working.
Only thirty-five to forty percent of those suffering fibromyalgia find relief from conventional drugs. Striking out on their own, it’s estimated that at least ten percent of fibromyalgia patients are using marijuana to relieve their pain, and state they will do so whether medical marijuana is legal or not. According to them, it’s the only medication that works.
Currently, the only recognized prescription drug recognized by the FDA for the treatment of fibromyalgia that contains active ingredients found in marijuana is Marinol, which uses the delta-9 THC properties. The problem with Marinol is that when the THC is isolated, other potential beneficial cannabinoids are lost, including those that may counteract the side effects of pure THC. “There are sixty or seventy different cannabinoids in marijuana,” states Donald I. Abrams, M.D. who is an oncologist and director of clinical research at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the USCF School of Medicine in San Francisco, Ca. “In Chinese medicine,” Abrams points out, “they prescribe whole herbs and usually a combination of herbs. The war on drugs,” he states, “is really a war on patients”.
The American Chronic Pain Society says in “ACPA Medications and Chronic Pain Supplement 2007″ that “some states allow the legal use of marijuana for health purposes, including pain, while the federal government continues to threaten physicians with prosecution of prescribing it.”
Not all physicians are sympathetic with the use of marijuana for chronic pain. States Dr. Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, a professor of medicine at McGill University and consulting rheumatologist at the Montreal General Hospitalm “physicians should be alert to potential negative mental issues in fibromyalgia patients using illicit drugs for medical purposes. Some herbal cannabis users may be using a fibromyalgia diagnosis to justify self-medicating with illegal drugs”.