Cannabis and CTE
The CDC estimates there are between four and five million concussions annually, with rising numbers among middle school athletes. And, according to studies, between 40 and 80 percent of those concussions will result in post concussive syndrome, or PCS, a condition whose symptoms include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, loss of concentration and memory, and sensitivity to noise and light. Most of those who suffer from PCS will see their symptoms resolve in a few weeks or months but for an unlucky 10 to 15 percent their symptoms can persist for years or even, rarely, decades. For some of those patients, it gets even worse. With each concussion, your chances of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, increase. The symptoms of CTE are a nightmare scenario. There are four stages of symptoms of CTE and with each worsening as time goes on. According to the Wikipedia entry for CTE, the symptoms are as follows: "First-stage symptoms include attention deficits as well as disorientation, dizziness, and headaches. Second-stage symptoms include memory loss, social instability, erratic behavior, and poor judgment. Third and fourth stages include progressive dementia, movement disorders, hypomimia, speech impediments, tremors, vertigo, deafness, and suicidality. Additional symptoms include dysarthria, dysphagia, and ocular abnormalities - such as ptosis.” These symptoms generally appear eight to ten years after an athlete experiences repeated mild traumatic brain injury. Currently, CTE is only diagnosable in a post-mortem examination. So a person could live with this condition, and these debilitating symptoms, with no solid diagnosis for years, effectively preventing any real treatment for it.
Sounds pretty dire and hopeless, doesn't it? Especially for those poor unlucky souls, and their families, who are dealing with possible CTE. But there is research being done on something as old as time that gives a ray of hope. Cannabis, also known as marijuana, has been proven in lab tests to regrow damaged brain tissue. Let me repeat that for those in the back: CANNABIS REGROWS DAMAGED BRAIN TISSUE! Not only does it regrow the damaged areas of the brain but it also protects the brain from further damage.
Now, imagine you are a military spouse and your veteran is suffering from these symptoms, or a mother and your college athlete is complaining of a persistent headache and fatigue, or you yourself are suffering after a car wreck or after a domestic violence incident or after years of high impact sports.
Or imagine you are in my shoes: my husband is one of those unlucky souls that have had the miserable and never ending PCS headache for nearly a decade already. We have tried big pharma, diet, exercise, even chiropractic care and nothing has really helped except for one medicine that, because of bureaucracy, we can no longer get: Marinol. Despite its legality--being that it is synthetic THC oil--and its long existence, it was FDA approved way back in 1985 to combat nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy. But due to the continued illegality of the plant that Marinol is derived from, and the stigma associated with it, the medical practice pulled the prescription, right as it was starting to really work. And because of the marginal success we got from the Marinol I have done my own research into cannabis. From the looks of things, whole plant cannabis medicine is essentially our only hope for living a normal life at this point.
Now, remember that my husband is not alone in this. There are millions of people all over the country who suffer for months or years after a concussion: moms, dad, parents, children, veterans, athletes. People from all walks of life are suffering and dying from this every day and the medicine that can help them live without pain, and without the horrible side effects of pharmaceutical medications, and without the chemical addiction epidemic that is currently plaguing our entire nation, could be growing on the side of the road because it is a weed. But due to draconian prohibitionism and the "war on drugs" it is currently unavailable.
I implore you to help me get this medicine legalized or decriminalized as soon as possible as it really and truly is life or death for million of Americans, including my husband. Call your representatives,--local, state and federal--and ask that they support cannabis legalization wholeheartedly. This is a humanitarian issue. Keeping this medicine from patients is cruel and the prohibition against this plant medicine is heartless and wrong.