There are few more controversial topics in medical ethics today than the use of medical marijuana. While many countries have legalized this, at least under certain circumstances, in other countries it remains illegal to use. In the United States, marijuana laws are something of a “patchwork quilt,” with some states passing more liberal laws in regard to its utilization and others banning it outright. However, in spite of its detractors, more and more research is uncovering medical benefits to be had from the use of cannabis. The latest study, coming out of the University of Tel Aviv, is part of a growing body of evidence to support those who believe that marijuana should be part of the mainstream pharmacopeia.
Marijuana and medicine
Many supporters are quick to point out that medical marijuana is actually nothing new. Before the 1930s and ’40s, marijuana was used freely as a medicinal herb, and it was not until just before World War II that regulations began on it due to concerns about the possibility of addiction. In a sense, then, this new push for medicalization of marijuana is largely a case of coming full circle in society’s attitude towards this controversial plant.
In recent years, other clinical studies have uncovered many health benefits – and not just for pain control for dying patients, which is one of the most frequent uses of this plant. Research has also found certain ingredients in marijuana, including THC, are also proving helpful for treatment of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and certain forms of cancer.
The Tel Aviv study
The most recent research on the medical benefits of cannabis is coming out of Tel Aviv. Scientists there have isolated a non-psychotropic compound called cannabidol (CBD) and in the course of their studies found that this compound, even when separated from the THC in cannabis, significantly reduced the length of time it took for a patient to heal from a fracture of the femur.
This study was not done in isolation; it was based on earlier research by the same scientific team which found that CBD was linked to increase in formation of bone tissue and an decrease in the loss of minerals from the bone itself (such as what happens in the development of osteoporosis). They believe that this is due to the fact that the skeletal system has cannabinoid receptors that react to even the non-psychotropic compounds in marijuana and this reaction in turn stimulates bone growth and development.
In short, this research is just another part of the growing body of evidence that marijuana is not only a legitimate means of pain control and appetite stimulation but in fact is also useful for other, more surprising conditions as well. This recent study could pave the way for more medical application of cannabis to not only promote faster bone healing but to help slow or even reverse serious conditions like osteoporosis. It will be interesting to note what the future will hold for this very controversial topic.
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