Medical Marijuana for Patients Receiving Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy, also known as radiation oncology, is the use of targeted high energy radiation to kill cancer cells. Approximately half of all cancer patients receive some type of radiation therapy during the course of their treatment. It is often used in conjunction with chemotherapy to help eradicate cancer cells present in the body, and may be administered prior to or after surgery, or as a standalone modality. Radiation therapy damages cancer cells by destroying the genetic material that controls how these cells grow and divide. Unfortunately, good, healthy cells are often destroyed in the process.

Cannabinoids (the active chemicals found in Cannabis that produce drug-like effects) have been proven to help alleviate the pain and side effects – specifically nausea and vomiting – that are caused by radiation therapy and chemotherapy. In addition to pain, other side effects include loss of appetite, inflammation, fatigue, skin conditions, and diarrhea. Cannabinoids act on cells in the central nervous system, and can be inhaled, ingested via edibles, or taken in sublingual form. Cannabis has also been shown to kill cancer cells. With growing support across the U.S., obtaining cannabis for medicinal purposes is becoming easier with each passing year.

Although recent strides have been made in developing drugs that can treat the pain and negative side effects caused by radiation therapy, many people choose to follow a more natural route by using medical marijuana to treat the disease and its associated symptoms. Medical marijuana has proven to be an affordable, natural alternative for thousands of cancer patients seeking to alleviate the pain and other debilitating side effects of radiation therapy.

In order to acquire legal access to medicinal cannabis, there are three requirements set forth by the Medicinal Marijuana Association. They are:

  1. Establish proof of residence. Assuming you reside in a state that has legalized medical marijuana, a valid driver’s license is usually all that is required. If you do not have a driver’s license, a state-issued I.D. or passport should suffice.
  2. Established eligible condition. There are several eligible medical conditions that qualify for a medical marijuana prescription. These normally include conditions such as a severe, debilitating, or terminal illness like cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS. Other conditions which may be covered include PTSD, fibromyalgia, depression, migraines, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, Crohn’s Disease, Tourette’s Syndrome, muscular dystrophy, Hepatitis C, seizures, persistent muscle spasms, peripheral neuropathy, anorexia and other eating disorders, and wasting syndrome. Eligibility varies by state, so be sure to verify what the local law is on this subject. Often, if you can prove through a doctor’s diagnosis that you have chronic, intractable pain because of a condition not on the eligibility list, you may still qualify to receive medical marijuana.
  3. Doctor’s documentation. Although the use of Cannabis for medicinal purposes dates back to ancient times, many physicians do not feel qualified to prescribe it for their patients with pain, or may not feel there is sufficient clinical proof to do so. Some may object on moral grounds. There are an increasing number of physicians who do recognize the benefits of medical marijuana, however, and finding a doctor in your area may not prove as difficult as you might imagine.

Find a whole list of reasons to get a medical marijuana card in Colorado on our site. We have seen a wide variety of conditions come through our office that can be treated by MMJ!

If you anticipate the need for, or are currently undergoing radiation therapy and wish to learn more about the application of medical marijuana for your situation, please contact Medical Alternatives Clinics at (719) 246-0393. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please visit our online portal. We offer same day appointments for current and prospective medical marijuana patients.