Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Medical Marijuana for Parkinson's Disease

Maybe the Grass Is Greener...

Everyone who has read Parkinson's Focus Today knows that Steve has arthritis in his knees. It is very unpleasant in his left knee - his PD side. He has trouble walking, hates to kneel because of the constant pain and has a real problem rising from a kneeling position. Which means, no more plumbing repairs around the house; no display of that plumbers' butt crack. Because he needs a cane to walk, that means no more toting things that need to be moved around. That's kind of inconvenient for me because it means there's just one of us to do the lifting. He is the consultant now.

So a few weeks ago we were trying to snake a graywater drain and I managed to cut up my arms and hurt my thumbs repeatedly and badly. Long boring story but suffice it to say, I had blood dripping, deep abrasions on my thumbs - the wound on one thumb just stopped hurting this morning. (Note: vitamin A & D works better than vitamin E when applied directly to the scabbed area.) The snaking process took place over two weekends during which I managed to reopen the abrasions on both thumbs. I sprayed painkiller every hour to thumbs and arms for several days before easing off to a couple of times a day. And I have a high pain tolerance.

At some point I dug my nails into my palms to try to determine my pain level...or something. That gave me an idea. I wanted to find out how much that knee hurt him. So I took out my trusty hand, pushed those nails into his arm and asked him to tell me when the nails hurt more than the knee. I'm still strong but it took a lot of pressure - far more than the thumb test. So I would say that his pain level is moderately high. Not as high nor as consistent as pains from other conditions but far more painful than my raw burn-like skin which healing and would end.

Which brings me to the last...I'm not one of those old hippy-dippys - I was a Girl Scout leader before I had I didn't do drugs (unlike a former President)...but I am a believer in the use of Medical Marijuana to deal with a variety of conditions, diseases and pain. I know that mj relieves some asthma symptoms quite effectively. I know that it is effective in dealing with glaucoma, cancer agonies. It is effective in nausea and vomiting, in wasting syndrome and appetite stimulation as well as neurological symptoms and muscle spasticity.

10/26/09 Correction:
Just last week after recommendation by a Medical Advisory Board, New Mexico added the following conditions to the list of those who can apply for the Medical Marijuana Program run by the New Mexico Department of Health: 
Severe chronic pain
They did not add the following inflammatory and/or neurodegenerative conditions:
Severe osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Reactive arthritis
Post-polio syndrome
Parkinson's disease
Alzheimer's disease
Inclusion Body Myositis - chronic muscle inflammation and weakness as well as severe chronic pain
The Board under Secretary Alfredo Vigil, MD did not feel there was enough clinical evidence to substantiate the inclusion of the above conditions.

The above conditions would have been added to the list which included:
Painful peripheral neuropathy
Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with intractable spasticity
Intractable nausea/vomiting
Severe anorexia/cachexia
Hepatitis C infection currently receiving antiviral treatment
Crohn's disease
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS-Lou Gehrig's disease)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Hospice patients

The application for the New Mexico program can be found at You must have a debilitating condition and one which is not helped by standard treatment. Your physician must have informed you of the associated potential risks and benefits. While I know that my husband wouldn't qualify by any current standards as the hinged knee brace offers some assistance for support which relieves some pain; I also know that there are hundreds of thousands of people who are in much worse condition and should qualify.

Only 47 of the 295 applicants have been approved since the New Mexico program inception in July 2007. By contrast in Colorado there are 5,920 patients with registration cards. California, New Mexico and Rhode Island will be the only states which actually allow medical marijuana dispensaries. States with pending legislation, however limited include: Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee

The Supreme Court declined to hear the challenge the validity of the California law.

One last observation. Forget that old "if they try it they'll move on to..." the above symptoms are horrendous and some patients are hoping that they can reduce their morphine and other very strong stuff with some unpleasant side effects and to improve their quality of life. We'll be revisiting this topic.

Sources and resources I'll bet you never thought you'd see here:

2011 Addendum:


  1. there must be hope for all patients knowning that one day we all will not be arrested for having a sack of medicine that Doc Somebody perscibes to me for my disease.

  2. The New Mexico State Health Department Medical Cannabis Progeram website does not list Parkinson's as a qualifying condition. According to:

    Apparently, although recommended it has not been approved.

  3. We stand corrected - and have amended the article to reflect the actual decision of the New Mexico Advisory Board.
    We also note that severe chronic pain application must be accompanied by a referral from the primary care physicial and from a specialist.
    "Also, any patient in hospice care could qualify." They must petition the Medical Advisory Board They can contact the Medical Canabis Program Staff at 505-827-2321 or
    There is no indication of the length of time a hospice care patient would have to wait for approval...

  4. A friend of mine who has terminal cancer and has been told he has three months to live, recently tried using marijuana as a last resort. He has now regained appetite, strength and control over pain. It's ridiculous to withhold this natural substance from those who need it.

  5. Couldn't agree more - appetite, strength and pain control. Bravo!

  6. Montana also has a Medical Marajuana program. However, it also does not allow Medical Marijuana use for PD. I am hoping to get that changed, my Grandfather has PD, and I think it would help him. I have used it for years in the treatment of Basilar Migraines. I had them since I was 6 months old, when I was 20, I tried Marajuana for the first time. After a year I had noticed, that they were gone. As long as I smoke, I have no Migraines. They used to come every 3-6 weeks, and last 6-20 days. I am 34 now and I have been Migraine free, for 14 years.

  7. WOW
    Researchers, take note!

  8. The stigma and ignorance about Medical Marijuana shocks me. I mean it's one thing when people are willing to ignore a war, or lax oil rig regulations, but ignoring a viable source of pain relief for millions. I mean what will Americans put up with?
    I'm guessing people don't know just how much m.m. can help with he treatment of these diseases. Or are doctors ignoring m.m. for other reasons? Most importantly: the cost! An MS sufferer can get the benefit of m.m. for about 1/30th the cost or less! Hmm, I guess we can just assume that competing with Big Pharma plays into the Reefer Hysteria, eh? I guess all those free lunches really do add up!
    The Boomers have wised up. And a lot of celebrities have gone to bat for m.m.. The federal gov't continues to reserve the right to bust m.m. dispensaries and hemp farms. Gee, this sure doesn't look like a democracy now, does it?
    Well, I don't want to give the impression that m.m. is supported by a fringe element, even if it is. A majority of Americans support m.m. but we don't have it. There's no constituency outside the left coast and a few spots elsewhere. Eventually the laws will change to reflect the medicinal benefits regardless of marijuana's stigma of an exclusively recreational use drug. (That and the cost savings might change minds in high places.)

  9. The question arises, what is the purpose of present day prescriptions? To make one feel better and capable of functioning within normal limits. There is not one statement in the US Constitution that grants powers to regulate one's medical services. There has been no grant by the PEOPLE to cede any right of control over a person's body to the control of the State or the Federal. Unless we consider that Government regards US PEOPLE as Property of the State. Wait, they is called the 14th Amendment where the PEOPLE became Fictional PERSONS, corporate entities! SO says the US Supreme Court.

  10. I don't understand why PD would be excluded, but I use MM.. rarely but when i need it i NEED it.
    Primary use for me is relaxation of muscles. At times i'm so tense that i cant sleep. HAve tried various sleep meds, but hate the various bad symptoms that result... one or two hits of MM and i sleep like a baby!! -Tom M

  11. My bio: As a Texas law enforcement officer I used marijuana to combat my Parkinson’s disease. GOT YOUR ATTENTION! My agency never knew I used and I am now retired. I was a supervisor, a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards (TCLEOSE) instructor. I was a Cum Laude graduate from Lubbock Christian University. I was elected by my peers as officer of the year for our county Crime Prevention Commission. My story “Looking Down the Barrel” is book of the month in San Diego. It’s about Parkinson’s disease, marijuana, and the struggle with my disease as an employed cop in Texas.

    1. Hi! ... My husband is very sick with Parkinson's Disease. He was diagnosed in 2005, but it became very aggressive by 2012 and he was admitted to Hospital and now is a resident in a local Nursing Home - (and he is only 66 years old!) - Recently, he has been deteriorating cognitively, as well as having more difficulty with movement and pain. I would like to know how to get a copy of your book. Could you please let me know how to order it? ... I would also like to know how to obtain medical marijuana in Canada, when it is not legal - I don't want to rely on buying it from unreliable sources, but I know that my doctor would never consider helping me do anything like this. Thanks! ... "Anonymous" - (for now)

  12. My bio: As a Texas law enforcement officer I used marijuana to combat my Parkinson’s disease. GOT YOUR ATTENTION! My agency never knew I used and I am now retired. I was a supervisor, a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards (TCLEOSE) instructor. I was a Cum Laude graduate from Lubbock Christian University. I was elected by my peers as officer of the year for our county Crime Prevention Commission. My story “Looking Down the Barrel” is book of the month in San Diego. It’s about Parkinson’s disease, marijuana, and the struggle with my disease as an employed cop in Texas.

  13. Nice content, I trust this is a nice blog. Wish to see fresh content next time. Thanks for sharing this post with us. Keep it up. legal marijuana

  14. I think marijuana should be legalized for PD. I have had PD for about ten yrs now. I tried all the drugs and they just made it worse. so I haven't taken anything for PD for about 7 yrs now except I do smoke marijuana . I really don't kno if it helps my symptoms (freezing and balance) but I kno it helps me mentally! im not so self conscious about going out in public and it seems that I have more self confidence. that is all I take .

    1. Brava Barbara,
      You have pointed out something really important for anyone with a chronic health issue: SELF ESTEEM. You are finding that your use of mm makes it possible to not define yourself as the disease.
      This attitude should help prevent one of the most insidious symptoms of PD: depression.
      Thank you so much for your contribution.

  15. I have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. after suffering for about 2 years but painful shoulders and hand tremors I can barely function. I have been searching for alternative medicines and have been using natural therapies along with diet. I have severe insomnia and nothing that the doctor prescribes will help me. I would like to know how to get ahold of medical marijuana.

    1. While I'm not sure, perhaps other readers have suggestions. It may depend a lot upon where you live. Good luck and don't give up the pursuit; it might very well be worth it. Ask family and friends to help as well. Have you considered speaking to one of your doctors?


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