Cannabis And Alzheimer’s Treatment The Benefits And Challenge

By Tim H.

Cannabis has been seeing increased use as medical treatment. Medical cannabis has been used to treat nausea caused by cancer treatment, pain relief, the treatment of neurological ailments such as multiple sclerosis, and increasing appetite when needed. Testing is also showing signs that cannabis prevents Alzheimer’s. Let’s take a closer look at medical cannabis as a treatment of Alzheimer’s and various issues cannabis legalization currently faces in the United States.

Cannabis And Alzheimer’s Treatment

Medical cannabis is already legal in several different states and as legalization continues to pass on the local level the odds increase for nationwide legalization. The legalization of cannabis as a medical aid offers greater options for patients seeking medical treatment and further treatment research. As noted above medical cannabis is showing positive results when used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s. Here is a closer look at what has been discovered.

  • THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), when taken, slows the production of beta-amyloid proteins in the human brain. These proteins are normally eliminated by the brain, however, in patients with Alzheimer’s these proteins build up forming plaques which are a sign the disease is progressing.
  • Other studies have shown that using cannabis as part of an Alzheimer’s treatment regiment also benefits overall nervous system health due to cannabidiol (CBD). To summarize, cannabis treatment reduces reactive gliosis (a sign of nervous system damage) and promotes the growth of new healthy nerve tissue. There are even signs that in addition to preventing new damage treatment may help restore functions that have already lessened due to disease progression.
  • Medical cannabis can also help with other associated Alzheimer’s symptoms that negatively impact a patient’s quality of life. These symptoms include sleeplessness, agitation, and aggression. Sleepless, in particular, is an issue that is difficult to address safely as current sleep aid drugs often have additional undesirable side effects. Medical cannabis offers a treatment that provides assistance but has less harmful side effects.

Issues Facing Cannabis Legalization

Public opinion on cannabis legalization is favorable with 61% of Americans in approval of legalization overall. While societal views may have become more open the legal aspects of cannabis becoming a legalized substance will require work on the state and local level. Such issues are part of the greater acceptance of cannabis use in society which also includes medical cannabis use.

  • Child Safety: as with any age-regulated substance (see alcohol) laws will have to be passed for administering, selling, or providing cannabis to a minor. Many states will review existing alcohol laws and base any such additions on existing legal precedent. General public education will also be a concern in this area.
  • Elimination Of Black Market Dealers: legalization does not remove the existing black market. The challenge is making legalization efforts attractive enough to businesses so that illegal sales no longer carry any monetary benefit. The clearest area of concern is associated with business and sales taxes which affect cannabis sold for both personal and medical use.
  • An Expanding Market: states with legal cannabis have seen an increase in other types of products such as edibles. The concern is with how highly concentrated these products can be. States will have to focus on properly educating and warning users to avoid overindulgence and also be prepared to support those who may need assistance through public services such as calls to poison control.
  • DUIs: lastly, current motor vehicle ‘operation while impaired’ laws will have to be reviewed. States with legal cannabis have already reported no real increase in traffic fatality rates making this a matter of enforcement and detection. This is an issue that is mainly focused on how to test for impaired drivers as current DUI laws broadly cover an assortment of substances already and cannabis can be added to existing statutes.

Final Thoughts

Cannabis as an Alzheimer’s treatment shows many favorable signs and testing shows positive results for those using cannabis as a part of their treatment regimen. As with any other ‘new’ treatment, more testing is required but current multiple case studies show consistent results overall and cannabis’s ability to prevent Alzheimer’s symptoms. This likely will result in it become a standard part of Alzheimer’s treatment regiments.

Lastly, the legalization of cannabis in a broader sense will create challenges of its own with a need for new laws and safety enforcement. Luckily these new laws will have existing legal frameworks based on already legal but restricted drugs such as alcohol to build off of. Careful consideration of current laws will reduce the difficulty of the overall legalization process for both personal and medical use.

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