Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission Investigates Whether Cannabis is Effective Against Opioid Addiction

maryland medical cannabis

We all know our country is struggling to find ways to battle the destructive opioid epidemic. The state of Maryland is facing its own battle with over 49,000 residents suffering from opioid use disorder (OUD). With over 30 states now on-bored with medical or recreational cannabis, some are considering it as a possible treatment for addiction to drugs like oxycodone and heroin. But does it work?

maryland medical cannabis

States that have implemented medical cannabis laws have seen a reduction in opioid prescriptions for patients on Medicaid and Medicare health plans. These states are also seeing a drop in opioid overdose deaths. So why isn’t Maryland including cannabis as a treatment for OUD? Here is an overview of what the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission recently reported.

Can Maryland Medical Cannabis Treat Opioid Use Disorder?

The growing anecdotal evidence is clear – medical cannabis can be a useful tool for treating opioid cravings and easing the uncomfortable symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal. Opioid patients also report that cannabis helps them sleep and reduces the intensity of cravings.

maryland medical cannabis doctor with flower and tincture

The fact is, cannabis poses less of a risk than current FDA-approved opioid-based treatments like methadone. Patients see better treatment outcomes when they have access to cannabis, and many health care providers have seen high-dose opiate patients significantly reduce or eliminate opiates with the use of cannabis. So why isn’t Maryland using cannabis is fight OUD?

Why isn’t Opioid Use Disorder a Qualifying Condition in Maryland?

The Maryland State Assembly considered adding OUD to the list of qualifying conditions that can be treated by medical cannabis, but some national groups were against the idea. Their concern was over creating additional drug dependency, and the lack of clinical evidence.

But here’s the catch…

The main reason there is a lack of clinical evidence on the benefits of cannabis for OUD is that it’s classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government. This classification has severely limited most medical cannabis research, forcing the cannabis community to rely on anecdotal evidence (what patients self-report).

Fortunately, the DEA’s view on cannabis and its medical potential is beginning to change. With the growing number of states that now have laws which allow medical or recreational cannabis use, the DEA acknowledges there is a need for serious medical research.

Cannabis for OUD isn’t a new idea, and a number of states in the US are considering adding cannabis as an addiction treatment. New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have already approved cannabis for opioid addiction, which could promote the idea on a national level.

The bottom line?

As of now, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission acknowledges that even though there is mounting anecdotal evidence for using cannabis for addiction, the scientific evidence is not there yet. Based on their medical literature review, the commission’s position is that medication-assisted treatments with drugs like methadone and naltrexone are best.

maryland medical cannabis Remedy Columbia Team
Photo Source: Remedy Colombia Facebook Page

If you’d like to try cannabis for one of the many conditions that do currently qualify in Maryland, we’d love to help. Schedule a visit or just drop by. We can’t wait to see you!

What Patients Should Know About Cannabis for Palliative Care

Cannabis for Palliative Care

The role that cannabis can play in managing or treating a variety of conditions or symptoms is becoming clearer every day. With the rapid progress of legalization in the country, new and more effective products are being developed to alleviate pain and suffering. While more research must be done before cannabis can be definitively linked to curing certain illnesses, many patients who require comfort in the later stages of a terminal condition turn to cannabis for palliative care.

Cannabis for Palliative Care dropper and vial

The Pain-Relieving Properties of Cannabis

Cannabis is increasingly recognized by doctors and scientists alike for its potent analgesic properties. Within cannabis lies several chemical components that contribute to its ability to relieve pain, namely tetrahydrocannabinol (commonly called THC) and cannabidiol (referred to as CBD). Each plays a particular role in cannabis’s effectiveness in reducing pain and other distressing symptoms, such as vomiting and nausea.

THC is famous for its psychoactive properties, but the chemical has proven to be an ideal panacea for pain as well. As THC is responsible for the powerful high that often accompanies cannabis, high THC strains can be especially useful for patients in palliative care. For certain conditions that require extreme potency, large quantities of THC can be an effective tool for providing comfort and relief.

CBD, in comparison, does not instigate a recognizable cannabis high when applied in concentrated forms. Rather, CBD offers patients the anodyne qualities of cannabis without the associated high. For patients who desire the painkilling effects of cannabis without a psychoactive experience, CBD has become a popular option when available.

The Effectiveness of Cannabis for Palliative Care

While every patient will require a treatment suited specifically for them, cannabis can be the right option to alleviate suffering for those afflicted by a debilitating illness. In particular, the powerful properties of THC and CBD in combination with each other have been shown to assuage severe pain and anguish.

Cannabis for Palliative Care bud between oils

As opposed to traditional painkillers, patients seeking out cannabis for palliative care prefer a natural medicine without the negative side-effects that can accompany prescription drugs. Indeed, many patients choose cannabis as an alternative to potentially problematic medications like opioids.

Patients often find that cannabis offers the same or greater efficacy in pain management compared to pharmaceuticals. As more research is done into cannabis as medicine, the potential is clear for strides to be made in unlocking the healing power of its constituent chemicals.

Ideal Cannabis for Palliative Care

When considering the use of marijuana for serious or terminal conditions, patients must always consult a doctor to determine the course of treatment that is appropriate for them. Furthermore, employees at cannabis care providers will often be equipped with the necessary knowledge to connect patients with the products best suited for their individual ailment.

Cannabis for Palliative Care doctor with plant

In general, indica strains are known to be more potent than sativas and possess sleep-inducing effects can be ideal for patients suffering from chronic and debilitating pain. While strains vary drastically in both quality and effects, indicas typically provide an embracing body high capable of melting away physical distress.

Edibles (or “medibles”) are also a potential avenue of exploration for patients seeking cannabis for palliative care. As edibles are usually much stronger than other forms of cannabis, they can act as long-lasting pain relievers. In addition, many patients may have conditions that prevent them from inhaling cannabis smoke, thus making edibles a safer and preferable option.

Want to learn more? Stop by our Columbia, Maryland, Dispensary—our staff is happy to help!

MMCC Celebrates 1 Year, Plus Medical Cannabis Changes You Need to Know

Maryland medical cannabis program

The Maryland medical cannabis program has grown in leaps and bounds since its start on December 1, 2017. At that time, less than 18,000 patients were registered and only eight dispensaries were open. The Maryland market now counts nearly 52,000 patients going to 71 dispensaries.

maryland medical cannabis program stethoscope with flower

Because of this expansion of patients and dispensaries, Maryland’s medical cannabis industry ended its first year of operation with $96.3 million in sales of 730,000 individual products.

And the pace has not let up. Between 250 and 350 patients have been applying to the program each day.

“Every Monday, we come in to 1,000 new applications. … People have really started to take notice of the cannabis program in Maryland,” Joy Strand, executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC), said.

In this post, we’ll review how much MMCC has achieved and the challenges moving forward.

Maryland Medical Cannabis in Numbers

maryland medical cannabis program doctor holding vial

Since the program started, there have been 2 million transactions. Here is what drove this result in one year:

  • The number of dispensaries grew from 8 to 71.  
  • 1,187 medical providers have registered with the program.
  • The number of patients grew to 51,704 by the end of November 2018.
  • 14 cultivators, 14 processors and 5 testing labs provided safe access to medical cannabis products at dispensaries.
  • 4,659 people registered as caregivers — individuals who care for minors or disabled people using cannabis products.

Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission Challenges

maryland medical cannabis program vial with cannabis flower

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has faced some criticism regarding accessibility to contracts, cost of entry, and products. Specifically:

  • The Maryland medical cannabis program is experiencing high race and gender disparities in their access to state and private sector contracts and in those factors necessary for business success. Based on statistical and anecdotal evidence, it has been determined by the state that affirmative intervention is still needed.
  • In order to purchase medical marijuana in 2018, patients had the option of showing either their license and certification card or patient ID. Now patients have to purchase a $50 patient ID card, which many feel is unfair considering traditional pharmaceuticals don’t have this requirement. Existing patients have until April 1 to purchase the card.
  • Cannabis edibles were not available in Maryland dispensaries for the entire first year. MMCC acknowledged that many patients, especially seniors, prefer to use edibles as their delivery method. Now word has to get out that edibles are available at dispensaries like Remedy Columbia.

Remedy Columbia Proud to Offer Maryland Medical Cannabis

The Maryland Medical Cannabis program still has progress to make, but it also has good reason to celebrate its first year with increased dispensaries and many more registered patients and providers.

Maryland Medical Cannabis Remedy Columbia Team

If you’re just starting the process, Remedy Columbia welcomes all licensed Maryland Patients for walk-ins. We also have Patient Registration Appointments and Patient Education Appointments to help you get started. One of our team members will assist you along your way to becoming a Medical Cannabis Patient in Maryland. The best part? Our menu has a variety of flower, extracts, edibles, tinctures, topicals, and more to choose from, now including edibles. Everybody will find something for them.

Glaucoma and Marijuana: Is Cannabis an Effective Treatment?

glaucoma and marijuana

Over 3 million Americans — most of whom are over age 40 — live with Glaucoma. Glaucoma is a degenerative disease that progressively degrades the cranial nerves. The disease can cause severe damage to one’s vision and is one of the most common causes of blindness not only in the U.S. but in the world. In this article, we’ll address whether combining glaucoma and marijuana is helpful. First, let’s further explore glaucoma as a condition, including causes and risk factors.

Glaucoma is a hereditary disease. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, the heritability of glaucoma has thus far made it nearly impossible to find effective ways to prevent onset. Nor is glaucoma currently curable. However, with early detection and a treatment plan, patients can manage their symptoms and prevent severe vision loss and irreversible blindness.

While there are two primary forms of glaucoma — open-angle and angle-closureopen-angle is the most common diagnosis, affecting 95 percent of the patient population.

Remedy Columbia Glaucoma and Marijuana eye exam

Glaucoma Risk Factors & Causes

Glaucoma is associated with elevated eye pressure, specifically intraocular pressure (IOP). However, contrary to popular perception, high IOP isn’t the cause of glaucoma. People with normal eye pressure can be diagnosed with glaucoma, while people with high IOP may not be diagnosed with glaucoma. It is, however, a risk factor for developing glaucoma. It can also exacerbate symptoms, causing compression that can degrade or destroy the retina and optic nerves’ fibers.

What Causes Glaucoma?

What causes glaucoma largely depends on which of the three types of glaucoma you have. However, the precise causes of glaucoma have been hard to pinpoint. The most current research from MIT and Massachusetts Eye and Ear (a Harvard teaching hospital focused on ophthalmology) suggest glaucoma-related vision loss is caused by an immune response to early exposure of bacteria.

According to Dr. Dong Feng Chen, the lead vision scientist on the study, and Harvard Medical School professor, the autoimmune attack can cause nausea, severe eye pain, and vision disturbances.

“The fact is, eye pressure is only a risk factor, which means only a small percentage of people who have elevated ocular, or eye pressure, actually develop glaucoma,” claims Dr. Chen. “Our study actually shows that the elevated eye pressure does not naturally lead to glaucoma.’

Dr. Dong Feng Chen

While there’s currently no known cure for glaucoma, Dr. Chen’s research has made him optimistic that a cure is in sight: “Targeted manipulation of the immune response in the eye will help eliminate the disease.”

Risk Factors

  • Family history and genetics
  • Age (60+)
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated eye pressure
  • Thin cornea
  • Persistent high-stress
Remedy Columbia Glaucoma and Marijuana eye exam male

Glaucoma and Marijuana

In most states where medical cannabis is legal, glaucoma is a qualifying condition, meaning glaucoma patients are eligible to become medical cannabis patients. But what does the science say? Is cannabis a viable treatment? Well, it depends on who you ask.

Studies into glaucoma and marijuana from the 1970s were promising; they found that cannabis does, in fact, lower IOP. However, as research has progressed and new medications have been developed, the current consensus in the ophthalmology community is that marijuana isn’t more effective than currently available drugs. Nor do most ophthalmologists believe cannabis should be used as a first-line or primary treatment.

Most ophthalmologists and researchers cite the short duration of cannabis and accompanying “side effects” as reasons why most patients should not use cannabis as their primary treatment. This reasoning makes sense. Patients need 24-hour treatment for glaucoma. Medicating for 24-hour cycles would require patients to use cannabis six to eight times per day to consistently lower their IOP levels, which could actually result in feelings of discomfort.

Does the current consensus mean patients shouldn’t consider cannabis as a treatment? Yes and no. As a primary treatment, the evidence is clear there are better options than marijuana. However, as an adjunctive or supplementary treatment, for some patients cannabis may be appropriate. As research has established, the data proves cannabis lowers eye pressure. Moreover, some patients find the effects of cannabis — both psychotropic and therapeutic — improve their quality of life.

When it comes to late-stage glaucoma, physicians are far more likely to endorse marijuana as a treatment. At that stage, treatment is less about targeting the disease and more about addressing symptoms.

Dr. Andrew Bainnson, a prominent New York ophthalmologist, provides an honest assessment:

“We’ve known for some time that medical marijuana is very effective for treating nausea and pain, but not so much for glaucoma. [However,] there are some patients with end-stage pain and nausea who may benefit [from medical cannabis], but not from the glaucoma point of view.”

Dr. Andrew Bainnson

Bottom line: Is cannabis appropriate for you or a loved one with glaucoma? That’s a decision between you and your health professional.

If you and your doctor decide cannabis makes sense for you, great! We’ve got plenty of strains and products we can suggest that are popular with other glaucoma patients. Keep in mind, of course, that our role isn’t to diagnose or prescribe medications. We’re here to help you on your treatment journey and be your go-to source for high-quality, lab-tested cannabis.

Ready to learn more about glaucoma and marijuana? Schedule an appointment for help becoming a registered Maryland Medical Cannabis Patient.

Is Cannabis a Viable Cachexia Treatment?

Cachexia treatment

Up to one-third of cancer deaths can be attributed to a condition called cachexia, a devastating wasting syndrome that causes weight loss and pain for patients and their families. While cachexia occurs with many types of cancer, it can also develop in patients with other late-stage forms of diseases like heart failure, kidney disease, and HIV/AIDS to name a few, leaving many to consider viable cachexia treatments.

Continue reading “Is Cannabis a Viable Cachexia Treatment?”