Cerebral Palsy is an incurable congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone, or posture. Cerebral palsy is due to abnormal brain development, often before birth. Symptoms of cerebral palsy include difficulty walking, difficulty with bodily movements, stiff muscles, overactive reflexes, involuntary movements, muscle spams, stuttering, and more. According to Mayo Clinic seizures are also a common symptom of Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is non-progressive meaning it is resistant to change unlike cancer which can go into remission. People with Cerebral Palsy are suffering from a debilitating condition with no hope for change.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
However, marijuana has been found by some to ease the symptoms of cerebral palsy. Unfortunately, we still don’t see CP popping up on the qualifying conditions lists of any states with medical marijuana laws. The pain and seizures that may come with CP make some suffers eligible for medical marijuana in certain states.
According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA), between 30 to 50 percent of children that have CP also have seizure disorders. With 17 million people with Cerebral Palsy worldwide this is a significant number of people who could benefit from medical marijuana. Seizure disorders already allow patients in several medical marijuana states to have access to medical marijuana. Although the research is limited there has been evidence to illustrate how medical marijuana has been able to help people with CP.
In one case study, Curtis Kile, a middle-aged man suffering from CP was experiencing severe muscle spasms from his condition. He now uses cannabis to relieve his spasms. “I don’t smoke a lot… a couple of hits off a pipe… or a joint. It relives my spasticity.” Without it he would be stuck in his wheelchair for multiple days in a row. Since he began smoking marijuana he’s been able to enjoy more of a regular life.
A 2011 study on people with cerebral palsy found that 63 percent of them suffer from chronic pain on a daily basis. Apparently, cannabis was found to be the most effective pain treatment among the patients surveyed. Even though only 5 percent of those patients had even used marijuana to treat their chronic pain. This illustrates how the pharmaceutical drugs are failing to aid sufferers of Cerebral Palsy.
In fact, Terri Argast, a 53-year old CP patient has found cannabis to have no negative side effects unlike her experience with the drugs she consumed in the past to reduce her muscle stiffness and pain. Before using marijuana she had to take several pharmaceutical drugs “just to be able to walk.” Marijuana has eased her “life-long struggle.”
What needs to be done
There is not currently enough research on cannabis and cerebral palsy for the medical establishment to recommend it to their patients. This is due to the Schedule I status of cannabis. Doctors cannot currently prescribe marijuana to any patients and only doctors in certain states can “recommend” marijuana to patients. Even fewers doctors can recommend it to patients suffering from CP. With no alternative forms of medication for sufferers of Cerebral Palsy, they should have access to medical marijuana.