If New York State legalizes medical marijuana this spring, it will be the 22nd state to do so. The proposed legislation limits the use of medical marijuana to 20 serious conditions including cancer, traumatic brain injury, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) and post-traumatic stress disorder. It also stipulates that no one under 21 may smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Recently, the American Academy of Neurology released its review of multiple studies of medical marijuana for the treatment of brain diseases. The review found that medical marijuana in oral spray or pill forms positively affected MS patients’ spasticity (tightness or spasms), but was not helpful for Parkinson’s disease-related motor problems. Furthermore, the findings did not show enough evidence that medical marijuana was useful in treating motor problems of other brain diseases, such as Huntington’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy and cervical dystonia.
Medical Marijuana Is not a Panacea
The American Academy of Neurology’s findings are interesting in relation to MS, and medical marijuana may be useful for some of these patients. But marijuana’s negative effects on thinking and memory may outweigh the benefit for certain patients. Treatment of every MS patient and associated their symptoms, including spasticity, needs to be very individualized. It often takes a combination of medications, physical therapy or occupational therapy, exercise, and complementary approaches to produce the best outcomes.
Ultimately, more studies must be conducted to determine the long-term efficacy and safety of medical marijuana for treating brain diseases.
There is no known cure for MS, but some therapies can slow the progression of the disease. The Cushing Neuroscience Institute’s Multiple Sclerosis Center provides comprehensive MS treatments, rehabilitation, ongoing education and psychosocial support in an effort to empower our patients and their families. The center offers rehabilitation treatments and services such as bracing devices, gait evaluation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, mobility devices and vocational rehabilitation. Request an appointment or email us for more information.