Medical cannabis is currently subject to laws relating the growing, possession, transport, and use of marijuana, which change depending on the state. There is also a myriad of differences between marijuana for general versus recreational use and the same product for medical use. From the scientific point of view, the effect of marijuana in treating neurological problems, including multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and movement problems, is not clear.

Studies of the effects of cannabis for treating multiple sclerosis have produced varying results. Evidence also suggests that oral cannabis extract is effective for reducing patient-centered measures of spasticity. A trial of cannabis is deemed to be a reasonable option if other treatments have not been effective. Its use for MS is approved in 10 countries.

The U.S. National Multiple Sclerosis Society believes that the question of whether marijuana – produced from the flowering top of the hemp plant, called Cannabis Sativa – should be used for symptom management in MS, is a complex one. It says that there is general agreement that better therapies are needed for distressing symptoms of MS. This includes pain, tremor and spasticity, which may not be sufficiently relieved by available treatments.

Still, there are uncertainties about the benefits of marijuana relative to its side effects.The society supports the rights of people with MS to work with their MS healthcare providers to access marijuana for medical purposes in accordance with legal regulations where such use has been approved. The Society supports advancing research to better understand the benefits and potential risks of marijuana and its derivatives as a treatment for MS. Across the Atlantic, in the UK, the situation is different.

The MS Society says that people have claimed cannabis helps with some MS symptoms such as muscle spasms and stiffness as well as pain. Official surveys show that significant numbers of people with MS in the United Kingdom use cannabis to manage their symptoms. Because medically tested cannabis-based treatments aren’t widely available, some people with MS obtain cannabis from other sources.

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