Does Marijuana Cure Headaches?

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[Co-authored by Lindsay Preach]

The Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) is considering adding Migraines, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression to the list of debilitating conditions that qualify individuals for a Medical Marijuana card. All three medical conditions have been through a review process and the AZDHS will be deciding whether to include them after a public hearing which will take place October 29, 2013 from 9 a.m. to noon at the AZDHS Bureau of State Laboratory Services' State Lab conference room located at 250 N. 17th Avenue Phoenix AZ 85007.

A Migraine is a headache that can cause intense throbbing or pushing in a specific area of the head. Often times they are supplemented with nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can last for hours or even days.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that individuals get after seeing or living through a dangerous event. Those who suffer from PTSD feel stressed and frightened even when they are no longer in danger.

Depression is a mental disorder which can significantly impair an individual's thoughts, behavior, daily activities, and physical health. A University of Southern California study found that individuals who consumed marijuana once per week or less were less depressed than those who did not.

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act was passed by Arizona voters in 2009. Under that Act, the AZDHS can add new medical conditions to the "Debilitating medical condition" list. The current debilitating medical conditions which meet the qualifications for a Medical Marijuana card are having one or more of the following:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Agitation of alzheimer's disease
  • The treatment of the above conditions
  • A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.
  • Any other medical condition or its treatment added by the department pursuant to section 36-2801.01.

According to the AZDHS, over 36,000 patients have received Medical Marijuana cards as of March 2013, and 70% of them qualified because of chronic pain. The Arizona Republic quotes AZDHS Director Will Humble as predicting that 15,000 to 20,000 new patients will be added if PTSD becomes a debilitating medical condition.

If you have any concern or views on the subject you may want to speak up at the public forum October 29.

Lindsay Preach is the Marketing Coordinator at Phoenix law firm Jaburg Wilk.