I had the pleasure of viewing the CNN special “Weed 3 The Marijuana Revolution” hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently and judging by what I saw there, things are looking very good for a long overdue end to the misclassification of marijuana by the DEA. Let’s go over some of the highlights:

In a world where 22 American veterans per day are committing suicide for lack of proper treatment for PTS, the use of cannabis is finally being embraced and studied for legal use to be endorsed by the Veterans Administration and its hospitals. Currently vets that use it are required to purchase it on the black market or from dispensaries, if available in their state, and pay out of pocket for their medicine.

Dream remembrance and flashbacks are often the root cause of difficulties in moving on from serious trauma and leading a normal and healthy life. Marijuana treatment shows amazing promise in helping veterans and others that have survived traumatic experiences by allowing them to live in (and focus on) the moment in order to avoid those harmful and repetitive thoughts.

For the first time, all of the federal government agencies that are required to approve long term, legal, comprehensive studies-the Food and Drug Administration, The DEA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse-are working together to ensure the supply of reliable, high quality, testable strains of marijuana. The United States Public Health Service also has to approve those studies that are privately funded. Just four days after the airing of the previous special, Weed 2: Marijuana Madness, they finally approved the first large scale, privately funded study.
In the last year, the federal government has increased their production of marijuana at their growing facility at the University of Mississippi by 30 times from 46 pounds to 1400 pounds. This facility is currently the only federally approved production site working to supply the strains needed for studies on the medicinal effect on maladies ranging from epilepsy to pain to cancer. This includes strains that are high in THC, the psychoactive compound, high in CBD, the therapeutic compound, and combinations of both.

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A large and quickly growing community in mainstream medicine is seeing strong evidence that treatment for pain and PTSD is much safer than the current opiate based, highly addictive and often dangerous narcotics that have been in use for decades. Compounds in marijuana are proven to decrease inflammation and help with anxiety and fear disorders, possibly by filling empty receptors that the brain is not producing enough needed chemicals to bind with. These compounds in marijuana help to restore a healthy balance in brain chemistry.

Doctors have completed short term studies on the effects of marijuana, on the brain of people who had never used it, over 3 month, 6 month, and 1 year periods. These studies actually use detailed brain scans and show no evidence of damage whatsoever. This is groundbreaking in helping patients decide to explore marijuana treatment as an alternative to conventional pharmaceuticals. It is also very good news for those who use it for recreational purposes.

Long term studies of the effects of marijuana treatment on those suffering from Alzheimer’s are being conducted in the UK. They show promise that cannabinoids in marijuana actually serve as neuroprotectants, protecting the brain and slowing the progression of the disease. It is important to note however that this study is corporate funded by a company that holds the patent on this type of treatment. Nonetheless, the science appears to be sound.

Perhaps the biggest development discussed in this illuminating special is the bill currently in the Senate as of March, 2015 that would change the DEA classification of marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug with no possible medicinal uses, to a less restricted Schedule 2, supporting the possibility of legitimate medical use. This would allow the VA to legally prescribe our suffering veterans and others in need. Even President Barack Obama, the third US President in succession to admit personally using cannabis, has stated he is not opposed to the reclassification.

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In conclusion, those of us who enjoy the recreational use of the plant and those who need it as medicine should be able to rejoice in the massive changes in the wind regarding the availability and scientifically supported information about our leafy friend. Light one up to celebrate!