Last updated on: 6/1/2009 | Author: ProCon.org

Muscular Dystrophy Association Biography

Position:
Pro to the question "Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option?"
Reasoning:

“Smoking anything, including marijuana, is not healthful for the lungs and airway system. Despite risk for bronchitis, the main advantage of smoking is rapid onset of effect. When marijuana is smoked, the inhaled smoke is absorbed and delivered to the brain rapidly, allowing for one to control the effect. Fortunately there is a much healthier option called “vaporization.” Because the cannabinoids (the active ingredients in marijuana) are volatile, they will vaporize at a temperature much lower than actual combustion. Heated air can be drawn through marijuana and the active compounds will vaporize, which can then be inhaled. This delivers the substance in a rapid manner that can be easily titrated to desired effect. This has been shown to remove the health hazards of smoking. Vaporizers can be purchased on the Internet.

Additionally, marijuana can be ingested orally, although oral ingestion of marijuana is quite different than inhalation. The onset of action is much slower and titration of dosing is more difficult. Maximum cannabinoid blood levels are only reached 1 to 3 hours after an oral dose.

There are really no other medications that have the same mechanisms of action as marijuana. Dronabinol (Marinol) is available by prescription in capsules, but has the distinct disadvantage of containing only synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is only one of many therapeutically beneficial cannabinoids in the natural plant. Interestingly, it is the most psychoactive of the cannabinoids and is the one that the Federal government allows to be prescribed!

Cannabinoids are now known to have the capacity for neuromodulation, via direct, receptor-based mechanisms, at numerous levels within the nervous system. These provide therapeutic properties that may be applicable to the treatment of neurological disorders, including anti-oxidative, neuroprotective effects, analgesia, anti-inflammatory actions, immunomodulation, modulation of glial cells and tumor growth regulation. Beyond that, the cannabinoids have also been shown to be remarkably safe with no potential for overdose.”

Gregory T. Carter, MD, Co-director, MDA/ALS Center at the University of Washington Medical Center, Oct. 2003

Theoretical Expertise Ranking:
  Organizations/VIPs/Others
Individuals and organizations that do not fit into the other star categories.
Description:

“The Muscular Dystrophy Association [MDA] is a voluntary health agency -- a dedicated partnership between scientists and concerned citizens aimed at conquering neuromuscular diseases that affect more than a million Americans.

MDA combats neuromuscular diseases through programs of worldwide research, comprehensive medical and community services, and far-reaching professional and public health education.”

“About MDA,” MDA website (accessed Sep. 14, 2007)

Mission:

“To stop neuromuscular diseases.”

MDA website (accessed Sep. 14, 2007)

Other:
Nonprofit 501(c)(3)