Former talk show host Montel Williams was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee. TSA reportedly found a pipe used for smoking marijuana in Williams baggage. Williams has openly stated that he uses marijuana to relieve the chronic pain he suffers as a result of multiple sclerosis, which he was diagnosed with in 1999. William has become a medical marijuana advocate since a similar incident at the Detroit airport years ago. Williams reportedly paid the $484 citation and was released to continue his travel.
Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. The active chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC for short. THC acts upon specific sites in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors, kicking off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the “high” that users experience when they smoke weed. The highest concentration of cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thoughts, concentration, sensory and time perception and coordinated movement.
In 1972, the US Congress placed marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act because they considered it to have “no accepted medical use.” However since then, 15 of 50 US states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of marijuana.
The potential medicinal properties of marijuana have been the subject of substantive research and heated debate. Opponents of medical marijuana argue that it is too dangerous to use, lacks FDA-approval and that various legal drugs make marijuana use unnecessary. They say marijuana is addictive, leads to harder drug use, interferes with fertility, impairs driving ability, and injures the lungs, immune system and brain. They say that medical marijuana is a front for drug legalization and recreational use.
Proponents of medical marijuana argue that it can be a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma, epilepsy and other conditions. Scientists have confirmed that the cannabis plant contains active ingredients with therapeutic potential for relieving pain, controlling nausea, stimulating appetite, and decreasing ocular pressure.
One “medipot” state, California, created The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at the University of California in 2000. It was commissioned to conduct clinical and pre-clinical studies of cannabinoids to expand the public scientific knowledge on purported therapeutic usages of marijuana.
In a report to the California Legislature in February 2010, CMCR summarized the findings of several of the studies done at the center. Four trials tested smoked marijuana’s ability to relieve neuropathic pain which is a very difficult-to-treat type of nerve-pain associated with cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, spinal cord injury and many other debilitating conditions. Each of the trials found that cannabis consistently reduced patients’ pain levels to a degree that was as good or better than currently available medications.
Another study conducted by the Center’s scientists looked at the use of marijuana as a treatment for patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. That study determined that “smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in reducing spasticity and pain in patients with MS, and provided some benefit beyond currently prescribed treatments.”
Worldwide, scientists are investigating cannabinoids’ capacity to moderate autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as their role in the treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease.)
In 2009 the American Medical Association (AMA) resolved for the first time in the organization’s history “that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines.”