Medical marijuana and CBD are taking off: can it help you?

As Dr. Lynn Bornfriend locations it, she was “absolutely no fun” inside the 1970s and 1980s, when a whole lot of her buddies had been dabbling in leisure marijuana.

“I didn’t touch marijuana,” acknowledged Bornfriend, a psychiatrist on the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia. “I didn’t want to talk to people who did.”

Bornfriend held that angle until her mother was acknowledged with most cancers in 2014. At the time, she pushed once more in direction of her sister’s inclinations to utilize medical marijuana as a therapy, disavowing it as a licensed medical expert.

Yet, her sister happy their mother to aim an edible.

“I burst into the apartment ready to intervene,” Bornfriend acknowledged. “I found my mom sitting up. She was not in pain. She was not nauseous. She was not stoned. And she was eating.”

Her mother did not survive her most cancers battle, nevertheless, Bornfriend acknowledged that medical marijuana improved her urge for meals and provided a discount from her ache. It moreover reshaped Bornfriend’s opinion about marijuana, resulting in a model-new outlook that embodies shortly shifting attitudes in the latest instances.

As an outcome of that shift, the cannabis enterprise is booming.

Medical marijuana is now obtainable in 33 states. Another 10 have legalized leisure marijuana. And cannabidiol – a full of life ingredient in cannabis larger usually referred to as CBD – is seemingly on retailer cupboards all over the place.

More than 2 million Americans are using medical cannabis merchandise to boost their nicely-being or relieve ache. Untold others laud the perceived benefits of CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabis extract now being utilized in each little factor from topical lotions to vape pens to ice cream.

These days, Bornfriend certifies victims for Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program. She helps them resolve the acceptable merchandise and dosage, and when needed, eases their anxieties about using a drug that continues to be illegal inside the eyes of the federal authorities.

“It’s just very interesting to me that I have done a complete 180,” Bornfriend acknowledged. “As a physician, I think it needs to be accessible and available to patients. The fears that people have – I don’t want to be addicted. Let’s talk about the opiates and benzos that you’re on.”

With the priority and stigma of cannabis lifting, additional people are trying to find out its therapeutic outcomes.

But understanding the variations between medical marijuana with THC and CBD merchandise can be troublesome, significantly for people who’ve on no account used them.


To purchase medical marijuana, victims ought to enroll in state packages that require a physician to certify a qualifying medical scenario. The packages – and the related medical conditions – vary by state.

Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey enable medical marijuana to cope with an abundance of conditions, along with most cancers, numerous sclerosis, epilepsy, and persistent ache. Pennsylvania’s itemizing moreover consists of autism, opioid use dysfunction, and Parkinson’s sickness. In New Jersey, it can be used for nervousness, migraines and Tourette syndrome.

Medical marijuana must be purchased at a dispensary of the place victims are required to level out state-issued identification taking part in playing cards. In addition to CBD, medical marijuana moreover accommodates tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the full of life chemical liable for many of its psychoactive outcomes.

All medical marijuana merchandise purchased in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are produced by state-licensed growers and processors. Both states require product labels to find out quite a few traits of marijuana, along with cannabinoids and each pure or hybrid strains.

“What’s available at the medical marijuana dispensaries in Pennsylvania is CBD that comes from the medical marijuana plant,” outlined Dr. Ari Greis, director of the Medical Cannabis Department at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute in Philadelphia. “You cannot buy a pure CBD product from a dispensary in Pennsylvania. Everything has some THC in it.”

By distinction, the CBD merchandise purchased online and in retail outlets, along with with some pharmacies, are derived from hemp, a singular cannabis plant that is not thought-about a Schedule I drug. Products are presupposed to comprise no more than trace portions of THC.

But that is not always the case as a result of the CBD enterprise stays largely unregulated. Three years up to now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration examined numerous CBD oils, discovering that some contained little, if any CBD, whereas others contained illegal portions of THC.

Beyond that, the FDA largely has turned a blind eye to CBD, permitting the sale of merchandise as long as they are not marketed as dietary dietary dietary supplements or declare to boost nicely-being outcomes.

“Not that the hemp-based CBD oils are all terrible, but there’s not great regulation of what’s going into it or what the percentage of it is,” acknowledged Dr. Brooke Worster, who runs a medical marijuana clinic at Jefferson Health that has licensed larger than 400 victims since Pennsylvania’s program launched last yr.

Judy Beck applies a topical CBD salve to her palms. She makes use of numerous CBD oils to help deal with persistent ache attributable to fibromyalgia, lupus and completely different diseases.


While medical marijuana evaluation is comparatively restricted – primarily on account of federal restrictions have prevented it – there’s nonetheless additional scientific inquiry on it than CBD. Despite some analysis, the case for CBD merchandise largely rests on anecdotal proof.

That doesn’t suggest CBD would not have any benefits. Studies on animal fashions level out it have therapeutic value, nevertheless, there’s far more to check cannabidiol.

“There’s a greater number of patients that try hemp CBD and do not get any therapeutic benefit and then go on to try medical marijuana.” – Dr. Ari Greis, Rothman Orthopaedic Institute

“We’re not studying a single molecule, which is often the case in the pharmaceutical industry,” Greis acknowledged. “We’re looking at a plant that has potentially over 100 ingredients that might be causing a therapeutic effect. That’s one of the really interesting – and also confusing – things.”

Any a kind of cannabinoids – or numerous mixtures of them – may present solely at treating one scenario, Greis acknowledged. A solely utterly completely different combination might be best for yet one more ailment.

But people are not looking for science to tell them that CBD tinctures and ointments are making them actually really feel larger. And the success tales are compelling.

Proponents declare CBD helps soothe nervousness, regulate mood and improve sleep – all without the psychoactive outcomes that can accompany medical marijuana. Others say it suppresses muscle spasms and alleviates physique aches and completely different aches.

But the scientific proof behind such claims is restricted. The FDA has accredited just one CBD-based drug, Epidiolex, based totally on scientific trials exhibiting it decreased the frequency of seizures in two unusual and excessive types of epilepsy.

Some smaller scientific trials advocate CBD might alleviate nervousness and schizophrenia, acknowledged Sara Jane Ward, a preclinical researcher at Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine who has studied CBD for the ultimate 12 years. Even a lot much less is considered its effect on ache discount.

“Anything we know about CBD for pain comes from research where you’re not just looking at pure CBD,” Ward acknowledged. “You’re looking at the combination of THC and CBD and various components of the plant. Everything else we know is all anecdotal from people.”

Fountain of Health full-spectrum CBD oil merchandise sits on the shelf at Across the Way, the wellness and pet present retailer by Weaver’s Way Co-op in Mt. Airy.

Those tales – and the promoting behind them – carry some important sway. CBD product sales may attain $1.3 billion by 2022, in accordance with some estimates.

Selecting a CBD product – and determining the correct dosage – can take some trial and error. Just like medical marijuana, CBD is purchased in topical lotions, tinctures, vape pens, and edibles. But it’s moreover being infused in all kinds of frequent meals and drinks, along with espresso, kombucha and ice cream.

Still, additional scientific trials are needed to know why CBD appears to do wonders for some people, nevertheless has little impression on others. Additional data is required to seek out the acceptable doses and any negative effects. All of which will take years, consultants say.

“We want to know all of this in various clinical populations,” Ward acknowledged. “Hopefully, the funding opportunities – both the financing to do it and the legal issues – will be better, so that we can answer the question much better.”

For now, somewhat extra is believed regarding the outcomes of medical marijuana. That’s why many docs interviewed by PhillyVoice acknowledged they steer their victims in that course.

“There’s a greater number of patients that try hemp CBD and do not get any therapeutic benefit and then go on to try medical marijuana, where they get THC, plus CBD and a bigger variety of minor cannabinoids and terpenes,” Greis acknowledged. “From a pure pain relief standpoint, it seems like THC is one of the more important ingredients.”

Mark Dresnin, 71, of Philadelphia, reveals a modern order of Grapefruit Durban, a dry leaf Sativa produced by Terrapin Care Station.


The most substantial proof supporting medical cannabis as a therapeutic drug is offered in regard to persistent ache. Studies have found that marijuana can current modest ache discount for quite a lot of underlying conditions, along with neuropathy, most cancers ache, rheumatoid arthritis, and musculoskeletal factors.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of people experiencing at least modest improvements in their pain,” Greis acknowledged. “There are very few people that say it completely takes [their] pain away. But there seems to be a lot of people who say, ‘I recognize I still have an arthritic back, but it lessens it so that I can function better.'”

At Rothman, Greis acknowledged victims most regularly complain of persistent lower once more ache. But he moreover sees victims with ache inside the neck, shoulders, and knees, plus neuropathy.

Many of them are now using medical marijuana as an alternative choice to opioids and their laundry itemizing of negative effects, along with constipation. One study found that states with licensed medical marijuana had significantly lower opioid overdose mortality fees.

“What’s been surprising to me is that I very rarely get phone calls from medical marijuana patients complaining of side effects,” Greis acknowledged. “I get phone calls on a daily basis from patients who are starting off on new pharmaceuticals that are associated with dizziness.”

There can be substantive proof suggesting medical marijuana can relieve muscle spasms amongst numerous sclerosis victims. And it can reduce nausea and vomiting attributable to chemotherapy therapies via the one-two FDA-approved treatment containing THC.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Bornfriend sees a lot of victims using myriad medicines, along with opioids, nervousness treatment, and nausea medicines. Oftentimes, it’s the ache from chemotherapy that prompts victims to consider medical marijuana, she acknowledged.

“Chemo, you’re going to have pain,” Bornfriend acknowledged. “You’re going to have nausea. You’re going to have the GI irritable bowel stuff. It’s a tremendous cause of peripheral neuropathy. Just going on and on and on – those are all symptoms marijuana helps.”

“Traditional medicine is much more (that) the doctor will give you a prescription for X amount for X amount of time. This is more of finding what works with the individual’s body chemistry.” – Ryan Smith, COO of dispensary operator Cure Pennsylvania.

Additionally, there’s common proof to advocate medical marijuana can improve sleep outcomes amongst people affected by MS, fibromyalgia, persistent ache and sleep apnea syndrome.

More restricted proof suggests it improves nervousness indicators, reduces post-traumatic stress dysfunction indicators and will improve urge for meals amongst most cancers victims and people with HIV or AIDS.

To make sure, there are negative effects associated with medical marijuana – and additional could be determined with additional evaluation.

The potential for intoxication can end in hurt and demise. There is substantial proof indicating marijuana heightens the hazard of schizophrenia, worsens respiratory indicators when smoked, and lowers the beginning weight of infants amongst pregnant individuals who smoke.

“I really have started to see medical marijuana as another drug that has potential benefits and potential risks,” Greis acknowledged. “By doing it properly, it can oftentimes minimize side effects and allow people to function better with at least modestly improved symptoms.”

There are additional drawbacks to medical marijuana. Because it stays federally illegal, it is not coated by insurance coverage protection. An ounce of medical marijuana can worth an entire lot of.

Helen Narke of Schwenksville, Montgomery County, often makes use of larger than half-dozen medical marijuana merchandise to cope with her ache. She has found these capsules, with a 10-to-1 CBD to THC ratio, to be the only.


Technically, physicians do not prescribe medical marijuana to victims, on account of they are not accredited by the FDA.

Instead, docs topic ideas to licensed victims. Unlike a prescription, the place an affected particular person solely receives a certain quantity of a selected treatment, victims are free to purchase quite a few kinds of medical marijuana.

“Traditional medicine is much more (that) the doctor will give you a prescription for X amount for X amount of time,” acknowledged Ryan Smith, a chief working officer of Cure Pennsylvania, which operates three dispensaries. “This is more of finding what works with the individual’s body chemistry.”

Some states limit the portions that folk can purchase. New Jersey restricts victims to 2 ounces per thirty days. Pennsylvania’s limit – a 30-day present – is additional nebulous.

Selecting a medical marijuana product – and discovering the correct dose – can be difficult. Medical marijuana is offered in quite a few varieties – tinctures, edibles, topical lotions, vape pens, and dry leaves. Further complicating the matter, they’ve utterly completely different onset events and numerous ranges of THC and CBD.

“I try to give a lot of specific guidance and arm my patients, especially my elderly patients, with exactly what they should go in there looking for,” Worster acknowledged.

Dosing usually requires a bit little bit of tweaking, partly on account of medical evaluation stays comparatively restricted, Worster acknowledged. It could be 10 to 15 years sooner than there are ample data to perform superb info, though she acknowledged her clinic has steadily turn into larger overtime at recommended doses for victims.

“We don’t know enough to say everybody starts at 5 milligrams,” Worster acknowledged. “It’s very individualized.”

For the event, some victims might use a product with low portions of THC all through the day to stay away from any psychoactive outcomes and one different with a greater THC stage shortly sooner than falling asleep.

The quite a few varieties present utterly completely different selections too, considerably in regard to onset and size durations. Vaping medical marijuana often presents on the spot ache discount, nevertheless, it couldn’t last as long as the discount provided by a capsule which is able to take 90 minutes to completely kick in.

To some victims, the tactic of attempting utterly completely different merchandise and tweaking doses is troublesome.

Most docs advocate beginning with small doses and, if essential, steadily ramping upward – considerably when an affected particular person is using a product with extreme portions of THC. Some have utterly completely different preferences on the varieties they advocate. Worster, for example, acknowledged she on no account recommends leaf merchandise partly on account of they can comprise aspergillus – a fungus that usually causes important fungal infections.

Bornfriend discourages victims from smoking it, which Pennsylvania – nevertheless not all states – forbids. She moreover shies away from edibles, as a consequence of their delay in taking an impression.

“In most cases that seems more like a recreational thing to do than a medicine,” Bornfriend acknowledged. “Usually, when you’re using a medicine, you’re looking for a result pretty quickly.”

And rising numbers of older Americans – along with many in Philadelphia – have attained optimistic results in managing their ache from medical marijuana.

Tuesday: In Philadelphia and its suburbs, older victims are embracing medical marijuana for its life-changing analgesic benefits.

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