5 Medical Cannabis Health Benefits Backed By Science
Medical Marijuana in Florida is becoming more readily available each day and for a good reason: it’s giving people actual relief from debilitating medical conditions they are suffering from. With the help of a Florida Medical Marijuana Doctor, like DocMJ, residents can apply for state approval to allow them to legally purchase medical cannabis products from a licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC).
In Florida specifically, there is a list of approved medical conditions that make one eligible for a medical marijuana recommendation. To see if you pre-qualify for a card, take this 5-minute long survey or book a risk-free appointment with a Qualified Medical Marijuana Physician. While there are many different ones that have been approved and have anecdotal evidence to back the claims, science-based research is finally supporting a few of the approved conditions. Here are five medical cannabis health benefits backed by science.
Medical Marijuana Helps Curb Chronic Pain
Chronic Pain is one of the top reasons people are turning to medical marijuana. Studies and observational reports have shown that over 80% of patients enrolled in clinical trials and/or with a medical cannabis card indicate “severe pain” as the reason for use.29 In addition, evidence proposes that some individuals with chronic pain are substituting the use of opiates with cannabis.
A survey conducted by a Michigan medical cannabis dispensary demonstrated that the use of medical cannabis was associated with opioid use decreasing by 64%.  Additionally, a recent analysis of prescription data from Medicare Part D enrollees in medical cannabis states suggested a large reduction in prescription use for conventional pain medications, mainly opioids.
Cannabis is an effective option to treat pain based on its behavior with both CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB receptor agonists cause antinociceptive and antihyperalgesic effects by regulating inflammatory activity. In a recent review of current data on the health effects of cannabinoids, the National Academies of Sciences determined that adult chronic pain patients who were treated with cannabis were more likely to experience a clinically noteworthy decrease in pain symptoms. Studies also imply some efficacy for cancer-related pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, and other pain conditions.[5,6].
CBD and THC Help Prevent Cancer from Spreading
Several researchers have proposed that cannabinoids and endocannabinoids directly inhibit tumor growth both in vitro and in animal tumor models through many different pathways. The inhibition of tumor growth and progression of several types of cancers have been demonstrated by natural and synthetic cannabinoids, endocannabinoids, endocannabinoid analogs, endocannabinoid transport inhibitors, and endocannabinoid degradation inhibitors.  These include cancers such as glioma, glioblastoma, colon carcinoma, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, and lymphoid tumors.
Additionally, cannabinoid receptor levels are a major determinant of the effects of endocannabinoids. CB1 receptors show an increase in expression when treated with agonists in several cancer cell lines; however, in normal tissue, these agonists decrease CB1 receptor expression . This difference could be a way by which normal cells are protected from the pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative effects of cannabinoid agonists . It has also been shown that THC induces apoptosis (the death of cells that occurs as a normal and controlled part of an organism’s growth or development.) in several human cancer cell lines while sparing non-transformed cell lines [10-13].
Other preliminary studies on aggressive brain tumors in mice and cell cultures are demonstrating that both THC and CBD can slow, and even shrink tumors at the right dose . A study done in 2014 found that cannabis can significantly slow the growth of the type of brain tumor associated with 80% of malignant brain cancer in people.
Medical Marijuana Treats Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Studies are also suggesting that patients suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease and could benefit from marijuana use. In 2010, researchers at the University of Nottingham found that various cannabinoids interact with cells in the body that play an important role in gut function and immune responses. 
The body makes compounds that are similar to THC that increases the permeability of the intestines, allowing bacteria in. The cannabinoids in marijuana block these compounds, making the intestinal cells bond together tighter and become less permeable. In more simple terms, cannabis helps block off bacteria and other compounds that cause inflammation in the intestines.
It Eliminates Nightmares
Studies have shown that marijuana disturbs sleep cycles by interrupting the later stages of REM sleep.  Nightmares and other dreams occur during specific phases of the sleep cycle, so interrupting this REM sleep prevents dreams from happening.
For those people suffering from chronic nightmares, especially those associated with PTSD, this can be helpful, perhaps in the short term. Nightmares and other dreams occur during those same stages of sleep. By interrupting REM sleep, many of those dreams may not occur. Research using a synthetic cannabinoid similar to THC showed a significant decrease in the number of nightmares in patients with PTSD. 
Decreases Seizures for Epileptic Patients
Epilepsy is considered to be one of the most common non-communicable neurological diseases and approximately one-third of patients with epilepsy have seizures that are resistant to traditional antiepileptic medications. Studies have been done on cannabis’s potential to help manage seizures for years.
In 1980, Cunha et al. conducted a double-blinded trial with 15 patients suffering from secondary generalized epilepsy. Out of those studied, eight were included in the treatment group and seven were included in the placebo group. Each patient in the treatment group received 200–300 mg of CBD daily for a period of 8 to 18 weeks. Four of the patients in the treatment group were seizure-free while three had partial improvement and the remaining one did not have any effect .
A few years ago, in 2017, Devinsky et al. conducted a study on 120 patients with epilepsy. Out of those patients, 61 were in the CBD group and 59 were given placebos over 14 weeks. Of those in the CBD group, 43% had a decrease in seizure frequency and 5% were completely seizure-free. 
Getting Approved for a Florida Medical Marijuana Card
All of the above mentioned conditions have been approved by the state of Florida to qualify a person for a medical cannabis recommendation. In addition to those five, the following debilitating conditions will also pre-qualify you for a card: 
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to the others listed.
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification.
- Chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition.
Besides having one of these health concerns, a person must also meet the below-listed requirements.
- Be a permanent or seasonal Florida resident
- Be entered into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry
- Obtain a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card
If you suffer from one of those conditions and meet all of the requirements set by Florida law, book an appointment to begin your legal cannabis journey! Still not sure if you could be eligible? Take this survey.
DocMJ’s team of compassionate physicians is located throughout the state and available for night and weekend appointments for easily accessible appointments. If you see one of our DocMJ doctors and do not qualify per state guidelines, you will be given a full refund at the end of your appointment.
 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2017.
 Boehnke KF, Litinas E, Clauw DJ. Medical cannabis use is associated with decreased opiate medication use in a retrospective cross-sectional survey of patients with chronic pain. J Pain. 2016;17:739-744.
 Bradford AC, Bradford WD. Medical marijuana laws reduce prescription medication use in Medicare Part D. Health Aff (Millwood). 2016;35:1230-1236
 Manzanares J, Julian M, Carrascosa A. Role of the cannabinoid system in pain control and therapeutic implications for the management of acute and chronic pain episodes. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2006;4(3):239-257.
 Wachter K. Navigating cannabis options for chronic pain. Practical pain management. www.practicalpainmanagement.com/patient/treatments/marijuana-cannabis/navigating-cannabis-options-chronic-pain. Accessed January 15, 2020.
 Fine PG, Rosenfeld MJ. The endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids, and pain. Rambam Maimonides Med J. 2013;4:e0022.
 Bifulco M, Laezza C, Portella G, Vitale M, Orlando P, De Petrocellis L, DiMarzo V. Control by the endogenous cannabinoid system of ras oncogene-dependent tumor growth. FASEB J. 2001;15:2745–2747.
 22. Bifulco M, Laezza C, Pisanti S, Gazzerro P. Cannabinoids and cancer: pros and cons of an antitumor strategy. Br. J. Pharmacol. 2006;148:123–35.
 Casanova ML, Blazquez C, Martinez-Palacio J, Villanueva C, Fernandez-Acenero MJ, Huffman JW, et al. Inhibition of skin tumor growth and angiogenesis in vivo by activation of cannabinoid receptors. J. Clin. Invest. 2003;111:43–50.
 Galve-Roperh I, Sánchez C, Cortés ML, Gómez del Pulgar T, Izquierdo M, Guzmán M. Anti-tumoral action of cannabinoids: involvement of sustained ceramide accumulation and extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation. Nat. Med. 2000;6:313–9.
 Ruiz L, Miguel A, Diaz-Laviada I. Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol induces apoptosis in human prostate PC-3 cells via a receptor-independent mechanism. FEBS Lett. 1999;458:400–4.
 McAllister SD, Chan C, Taft RJ, Luu T, Abood ME, Moore DH, et al. Cannabinoids selectively inhibit proliferation and induce death of cultured human glioblastoma multiforme cells. J. Neurooncol. 2005;74:31–40.
 Hill AJ, Hill TDM, Whalley BJ. Endocannabinoids: Molecular, Pharmacological, Behavioral and Clinical Features. Oak Park, IL: Bentham Science Publishers; 2013. The development of cannabinoid based therapies for epilepsy; pp. 164–204.