Medical marijuana advocates in Maine are trying to spread the word about a recent study indicating the drug may slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The Gelassen family of Portland says it works.
Allen Gelassen is a pretty happy guy despite living with Alzheimer’s.
“I always have a problem (remembering) day-to-day,”said Gelassen, “But distance, some of it I can, some of it I can’t.”
The diagnosis came a few months ago, after the stroke that left him in a wheelchair. And with it, prescription painkillers; something that impacted his kids’ lives too.
“Groggy, depressed,” said his son, Benjamin Gelassen, “Which put that energy onto me.”
But recently, Gelassen ditched the prescriptions and decided to stick solely to medical marijuana.
Ever since, Benjamin Gelassen said his dad seems to have stopped deteriorating.
“He’s able to hold up in a conversation and remember things stated five minutes earlier or a week ago,” said Benjamin Gelassen.
In a preclinical study, researchers at the University of South Florida found that extremely low levels of THC, a chemical in marijuana, have positive effects on the protein that builds up in the brain and leads to Alzheimer’s.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana can be addictive and health concerns include impaired judgement, slow reaction time and mood effects. But authors of the study said they’re talking about such a small amount of THC, they believe the benefits outweigh the risk. They also acknowledge it isn’t for everyone.
“This is an option for them,” said Becky Dekeuster, co-founder of The Wellness Connection of Maine, which operates half of Maine’s dispensaries.
Dekeuster said there are currently no clients in the Alzheimer’s category, but she’s hoping to change that.
“I wonder if that’s because the qualifying condition is at a later stage, at a time when the family is not really looking for new things,” said Dekeuster. “They’re trying to manage the situation.”
Benjamin Gelassen wants to see more families benefit.
“(My dad is) alot happier and it makes me happy,” he said.