After Coloradans decreed in 2000 that the cannabis plant had medical value, scientific evidence has had to play catch-up with the anecdotal cases.
The list of claims of healing powers of marijuana is long, while the list of full-scale U.S. studies on medicinal benefits is short, largely because pot use is still against federal law and doesn't get many federal research dollars.
Colorado voters approved themedical use of pot in 2000 and recreational use in 2012.
Now Colorado is leading the nation in state spending on studies of medical marijuana.
The state's Medical Marijuana Scientific Advisory Council considered Dec. 17 how to spend $9 million set aside by the state legislature for two- to three-year studies on marijuana treatment for chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson's disease tremors, pediatric epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease and palliative care for pediatric brain tumors.
Teri Robnett, with the Cannabis Patients Alliance [and Board Member of Colorado NORML], was the only non-scientist, non-medical person named to the Medical Marijuana Scientific Advisory Council.
Robnett has suffered 27 years with fibromyalgia, a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue and sleep, memory, mood and digestive issues. In 2009 she began experimenting with cannabis.
"It completely changed my life," Robnett said. It's the only thing that's alleviated her symptoms without serious side effects, she said.
She discerns a recent shift in the medical community's attitudes toward marijuana. Scientists are less interested in questioning whether it has value as medicine, she said, and more interested in determining just how effective it is and how patients should be dosed.
Studies going back 40 years showed marijuana can be used to treat and prevent glaucoma, an eye disease that increases pressure in the eyeball, damaging the optic nerve and causing loss of vision.
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