Is Medical Marijuana the answer to ALS?

While a successful, albeit brief spell in the new media spotlight courtesy of the Ice Bucket Challenge craze in 2014 raised the profile of ALS somewhat, the neurogenerative disorder remains a heart-wrenching and debilitating incurable disease.

With a short life expectancy upon diagnosis and incapacitating symptoms, treatment for ALS is invaluable. A 2014 study by the American Academy of Neurology suggested that Medical Marijuana could be the most effective treatment for the endless list of symptoms associated with the disease.
The study surveyed ALS patients who reported current or prior use of medical marijuana to treat their symptoms. The returned results indicated the following:

– 75% considered Medical Marijuana very effective for providing appetite stimulation.
– 65% considered Medical Marijuana very effective for aiding sleep.
– 80% considered Medical Marijuana very effective for relieving anxiety.
– 70% considered Medical Marijuana very effective for relieving depression.
– 60% considered Medical Marijuana very effective for providing muscle relaxation.

While these statistics only provide somewhat anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness of cannabis on ALS, it demonstrates the much needed aid for patients who suffer from this unforgiving disease. Despite this, Medical Marijuana for ALS is only available in 6 States in America (Arizona, Florida, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico and New Jersey).

While there has been no definitive study focusing solely on the therapeutic properties of cannabis on ALS, basic laboratory and animal research has suggested that THC may slow down the progression of the disease. This research carries more validity when reading the Cathy Jordan story.

After being diagnosed with ALS in 1986, Jordan was given 5 years to live. However, after using cannabis to treat her illnesses, she has surpassed her “expiry date” by 24 years. Still alive and well today, Jordan pays tribute to marijuana calling it ‘her lifeline’.

In 1989, after a rapid decline in her health and with only 2 years left to live, Jordan, who lives in Florida decided to use cannabis. Improvements in Cathy’s health were noticeable; she even started walking again after years in a wheelchair.

Cathy’s story is not the only testament of its kind. There are many other reported success stories of medical marijuana and its effects on the symptoms of ALS.

However, despite almost $100 million being raised through the aforementioned Ice Bucket Challenge, new research into marijuana and ALS is yet to be conducted and patients outside of the sparse legal boundaries will have to continue to fight for their right to use the cannabis and its extracts.