NEW YORK — Medical marijuana is becoming mainstream: 21 states and the District of Columbia allow it. But until Monday, little was known about whether it can effectively treat neurological disorders.
Sixty-nine-year-old Gloria Gates has multiple sclerosis. She can no longer walk and is often in severe pain.
“One thing that is just intolerable for me are these excruciating leg cramps,” she says.
Powerful muscle relaxants didn’t help. She now has a medical marijuana permit and uses an extract specifically made for her.
“I tried it as a last resort, and it’s been an absolute blessing for me,” she says.
On Monday, for the first time, the American Academy of Neurology said medical marijuana is an effective treatment for some symptoms of multiple sclerosis. It concluded spasm, muscle tightness and pain can all be helped.
But that’s when the drug is given as an oral spray or pill. There’s not enough evidence to determine if smoking marijuana was equally effective, says lead author Dr. Barbara Koppel.
“There is lots of literature about smoking, but it’s all anonymous questionnaires, and it’s patient testimonials,” Koppel says.
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