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Can Medical Marijuana Help Patients with Muscular Dystrophy?

,Marijuana Muscular Dystrophy

Medical Marijuana (MMJ) is becoming more and more common in today’s society, mainly because of its therapeutic benefits. Smoking, vaping, ingesting, and topically applying MMJ products is relieving people suffering from inflammation, auto-immune disorders, pain, anxiety, and many other debilitating conditions. 

Though it has not yet been decriminalized on a federal level, many states have allowed for marijuana products to be sold to patients suffering from approved medical conditions. If you are curious to see if you are eligible for a Florida Medical Marijuana Card, this pre-qualfying survey will tell you if you could be approved for an MMJ recommendation.

What is Muscular Dystrophy?

Caused by mutations in a person’s genes, muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that progressively weakens muscles, decreases mobility, and causes loss of muscle mass. It occurs when there is a lack of a protein called dystrophin. Dystrophin is necessary for muscles to function normally and without the correct levels of this protein, one can suffer from issues with walking, swallowing, and other movements.

While they are rare, there are multiple types of muscular dystrophies and they can run in families or an individual can develop it without any genetic history of the disease. Each kind affects a specific muscle group and can appear at any age in various severities. 

Types of Muscular Dystrophy

There are many different forms of muscular dystrophy with the main sign of it being progressive muscle weakness. Certain signs and symptoms will begin at different ages and within different muscle groups, depending on the type of muscular dystrophy.

Duchenne type muscular dystrophy

This is the most common form of muscular dystrophy and although girls can be mildly affected, it’s much more common in boys. People with Duchenne muscular dystrophy typically require a wheelchair before their teenage years and their life expectancy is the late teens or 20s.

Signs and symptoms, which typically appear in early childhood, might include:

  • Frequent falls
  • Poor posture
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Difficulty rising from a lying or sitting position
  • Trouble walking, running, and jumping
  • Waddling gait or walking on the toes
  • Scoliosis
  • Large calf muscles
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Learning disabilities
  • Delayed growth

Becker muscular dystrophy

Symptoms for Becker muscular dystrophy are similar to those of Duchenne, but tend to be a bit milder and progress at a slower rate. It also more commonly affects boys but symptoms usually do not occur until the teenage years and they might not even show up until the mid-20s or even later.

Muscle weakness occurs mostly in your arms and legs, with symptoms appearing between age 11 and 25. Those with Becker can usually walk well into their 30s and live longer in comparison to those with Duchenne.

Symptoms of Becker muscular dystrophy include:

  • Walking on your toes
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Muscle cramping
  • Trouble getting up
  • Frequent Falls
  • Inability to lift heavy objects

Most people who are diagnosed with this disease don’t need a wheelchair until they’re in their mid-30s or older, and a percentage of people with this disease never require one. Most people with Becker muscular dystrophy live until middle age or later.


Myotonic dystrophy, also known as Steinert’s disease, is a form of muscular dystrophy that causes myotonia. It is characterized by an inability to relax the muscles following contractions. The facial and neck muscles are usually first to be affected and those suffering from this form typically have long, thin faces, swan-like necks, and drooping eyelids.

Symptoms most often appear first in your face and neck. They also include:

  • Difficulty lifting your neck
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Increased sweating
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Poor vision
  • Early baldness 
  • Weight loss
  • Infertility and impotence

Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD)

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), or Landouzy-Dejerine disease,affects the muscles in your face, shoulders, and upper arms. Onset typically occurs during the teenage years but can come as late as age 50 or in early childhood. 

FSHD symptoms include

  • Slanted shoulders
  • Winglike appearance of the shoulders
  • Crooked mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Respiratory issues
  • Difficulty hearing


This form is apparent before the age of two and affects both genders. Some forms progress slowly and cause only mild disability, while others progress rapidly and cause severe impairment.

Symptoms vary and may include:

  • Poor motor control
  • Muscle weakness
  • Scoliosis
  • Foot deformities
  • Inability to sit/stand without support
  • Intellectual impairment
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Vision impairment
  • Speech problems

The lifespan of someone with this type also varies, depending on the symptoms. Some people with congenital muscular dystrophy die in infancy while others live until adulthood.


Onset usually begins in childhood or the teenage years and causes weakening of the muscles and a loss of muscle bulk. This form of muscular dystrophy typically begins in the shoulders and hips, but it can also occur in the legs and neck. Limb-girdle affects both males and females are usually disabled by age 20.

  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Breathing-related issues
  • Scapular winging
  • Muscle weakening 
  • Lordosis (curved back) and/or scoliosis
  • Joint stiffness
  • Large calf muscles

 Unlike other forms of muscular dystrophy, most people have a normal life expectancy.

Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy

Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy tends to affect more boys than girls and begins in childhood. The symptoms include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Heart issues
  • Weakness in the upper arm and lower leg muscles
  • Shortening of the muscles in your spine, neck, ankles, knees, and elbows

Most individuals with Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy die in mid-adulthood from heart or lung failure.

Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD)

Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy causes weakness in your facial, neck, and shoulder muscles. Other symptoms include:

  • drooping eyelids
  • trouble swallowing
  • voice changes
  • vision problems
  • heart problems
  • difficulty walking

OPMD occurs in both men and women. Individuals usually receive diagnoses in their 40s or 50s.

Can Marijunana Help Manage Muscular Dystrophy Symptoms?

While medical marijuna will not cure muscular dystrophy, it can help manage the symptoms that come along with it, thus improving one’s quality of life. The active compounds in marijuana, also known as cannabinoids, are known for their ability to suppress inflammation and chronic pain.

Medical marijuana can also encourage physical relaxation, helping symptoms such as muscle stiffness, spasticity, and loss of muscle control. It also encourages mental relaxation, helping with issues like insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

The body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) maintains many of the systems and tissues affected by muscular dystrophy. CB1 receptors appear in your nervous system and brain and handle their functions, including cognition and sensation. The ECS can release certain endocannabinoids to protect damaged tissue. One of these endocannabinoids, anandamide, is responsible for managing pain and inflammatory responses to help one feel less pain.

Additionally, a study published in 2019 in the British Journal of Pharmacology  by Iannotti et al., looked at how ‘non-euphoric cannabinoids’ like CBD and CBDV affected dystrophic mice. It found that these two compounds reduced inflammation, prevented loss of mobility, and promoted the formation of myotubes, a type of muscle fiber. This shows that marijuna has great therapeutic potential for those suffering from muscular dystrophy and is worth investigating further.

Qualifying for your Florida Medical Marijuana Card

In order to be able to legally purchase and possess medical marijuana you must be approved by a state-certified Florida Medical Marijuana Physician. They can only legally approve those suffering from a qualifying medical condition. The following conditions make you eligible for approval:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • 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.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy or any of the other above conditions, book an appointment and start the process of finding the relief you deserve. In most cases, it will take less than two weeks from your initial appointment to be approved to purchase products from a qualified Medical Marijuana Treatment Center. 













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