By Cherise Paramour
I found out this past weekend while going car hunting in South Jersey that my mother, in a way, supports medical marijuana legalization: that those who suffer from diseases and illnesses should have the right to use marijuana for relief and that a certain NJ politician should not try and prevent those from accessing this alternative form of medicine. It was just another example of how this particular politician, as she had described him, behaves like a “bully.”
Although my mother pointed out to me that she is “not in pain,” I cannot help but wonder the benefits the use of medical marijuana would provide for her. My mother is an insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetic and has been since the late 1970’s. She keeps track of her blood glucose (“sugar”) levels every day, at least three times a day, in a little notebook that is next to the reading device on the kitchen table. Inside one of the kitchen cabinets, she has an updated list of the medications she takes, in the event that her sugars drop so low that the EMTs have to arrive at the house. (Yes, this has happened on several occasions within the past few years.) Unfortunately, my mother does not have a very large appetite throughout the day and may not be eating as much, or as well, as she should to help maintain healthy blood glucose levels every day.
The latest National Diabetes Statistics Report (released in June 2014) states that, in 2012, approximately 29.1 million Americans suffered from diabetes; 1.25 million of those who suffer from the disease are children). About 86 million Americans suffered from prediabetes that year, with 1.7 million new cases occurring each year.1 Although about 1 out of 10 people, or less than 10% of the US population suffer from diabetes, about 30% of the nation’s population, or 1 out of 3 people, do suffer from prediabetes at a given time. Several people in my family, including both my parents, suffer from Type 2 diabetes. Many people may at least know one person, if not a few people, who suffer from either form of diabetes or prediabetes.
The few studies that are out there, in regards to the use of medical marijuana to relieve diabetic and prediabetic symptoms, that do suggest that these is a positive correlation between marijuana use and lower levels of fasting insulin and lower insulin resistance.2 Having lower level of insulin resistance can help the fat, muscle and liver cells absorb the glucose in the blood stream more effectively3, reducing diabetic and prediabetic symptoms. For diabetics and prediabetics, it is imperative that they constantly maintain healthy blood glucose levels and work on improving their diet and eating habits, as well as engage in regular exercise routines.
Like my own mother, there are those who also suffer from several medical conditions that cannot just readily take up a regular exercise routine and change their eating habits without seeking consultation from a number of different doctors, in the hopes of receiving an agreed-upon consensus. The use of medical marijuana can provide some relief to those who can only make very minimal, if no, changes to their diet and exercise regimens, or are restricted from taking certain types of medication or prefer to use alternative forms of medicine. Medical marijuana use can provide relief to all of those who suffer from these diseases and their various symptoms.
In short, I believe that marijuana should be remove from the list of Schedule 1 drugs to allow US academia and scientists to perform further research with its medical use to treat all forms of diabetes, as well as other diseases in general. I feel that this would be a step in the right direction in regards to help relieving painful and life-threatening symptoms and help find cures for the common and not-so-common diseases that people suffer from on a daily basis.
1Statistics About Diabetes. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/?referrer=https://www.google.com/
2The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults. Penner, Buettner, Mittleman. http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(13)00200-3/pdf
3 Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes: What happens with insulin resistance?. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). http://www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/insulinresistance/index.aspx#happens