Monday, March 28, 2016

Marijuana Monday: Just Die Edition


So this happened.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed into law a bill that will allow people diagnosed with a terminal illness access to medical marijuana — if the state’s extremely limited and long-delayed medical marijuana program ever becomes a reality.

The bill signed by Gov. Scott on Thursday, House Bill 307, is an attempt to expand the state’s low-THC medical marijuana law by allowing products made from cannabis strains with higher levels of THC available to those patients with terminally ill conditions.  The bill passed the both chambers of the legislature earlier this month, receiving a 28-11 vote in the Senate and 99-16 approval in the House.

The bill makes full-strength cannabis products available to the terminally ill under Florida’s “Right to Try Act,” which allows terminally ill patients to use medications that have not yet been approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration.
This is great news for the dying, but what about the living and those who plan on recovering? Now that our legislature and governor have admitted in writing that medical marijuana has the ability to mitigate suffering how can they justify denying it to people who are not in their final days of life???

The evidence is completely anecdotal on my part here, but one of the reasons I'm so passionate about this issue is from my experience with the early days of HIV/AIDS. Every single person that I know who survived the days of HIV before the modern, life-saving pharma cocktails was also a heavy marijuana smoker.

Apparently the evidence is more than anecdotal.
People with HIV have long realized that cannabis can ease many HIV-related conditions, including nausea, loss of appetite, depression, weight loss, and neuropathic pain. In addition to treating common symptoms of HIV and side effects of antiretroviral drugs, research indicates that cannabis may help fight HIV itself.
An increasing number of scientific studies, conducted at well-known institutions and published in prominent medical journals, are revealing antiviral effects of cannabis against HIV. These studies detail diverse approaches in measuring favorable effects that cannabis may have in slowing HIV disease progression.

THC in monkeys may lessen HIV’s damage in the gut
During primary infection HIV attacks the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), where a substantial amount of the immune system is located, hitting CD4 cells hard and early during this process. The initial damage done to GALT is believed to be essential to the progression of HIV disease.
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse and published in AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses in 2014 found that THC, the best-known component of cannabis, had a positive effect on GALT in rhesus monkeys that were infected with SIV, the simian version of HIV, after 17 months of receiving THC. Checking the monkeys five months later, researchers from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center found that THC produced a generalized decrease in viral load and tissue inflammation and increased production of disease-fighting CD4 and CD8 central memory T cells in GALT.

Blocking HIV’s entry
The effects of cannabis are a result of interactions between cannabinoids and receptors located on many cells, including macrophages (a tissue cell of the immune system) and CD4 cells called cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2). Researchers at New York City’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine published data in 2012 demonstrating that stimulation of CB2 with compounds called cannabinoid receptor agonists can block the signaling process between HIV and CXCR4, one of the main types of receptors that allow HIV to enter and infect a cell. CXCR4 is used by HIV during advanced disease and allows for faster disease progression.

By stimulating activation of CB2 with cannabinoid receptor antagonists, Mount Sinai researchers decreased the ability of HIV to infect cells that utilize CXCR4, reducing the frequency of infected cells by 30 to 60 percent.

Cannabinoids may help preventneurocognitive disorders
Research conducted at Temple University School of Medicine and published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology suggests that compounds that stimulate CB2 on macrophages may weaken HIV infection. CB2 is the binding site for cannabinoids on macrophages, and stimulation of these receptors, unlike CB1, does not produce the euphoric effects associated with cannabis use.
Neurocognitive disorders are common in people with HIV even in the presence of a strong immune response and suppressed viral load. The virus establishes itself in the central nervous system early on in HIV infection and maintains a stronghold throughout the course of disease. Most antiretroviral medications are unable to cross the blood-brain barrier and thus cannot decrease the level of HIV in the brain, allowing for cognitive damage to continue.
And this is just one disease. MMJ is helpful with everything from chronic pain to Parkinson's. Isn't it time to get government out of the way and let doctors and patients decide?

Please support Amendment 2 this November. It's the right thing to do.

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