Up In Smoke

Smoking medical marijuana relieves MS symptoms.

My husband and I recently saw a headline in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that read, “Smoking medical marijuana could help relieve some symptoms of multiple sclerosis”. I instantly began dreaming of buying a new house in California next to Montel’s medical marijuana dispensary.

The study found that people with M.S. who smoked cannabis have experienced decreased pain and spasticity. While, thank God, I don’t suffer from any pain, I do endure unbelievable spasticity and clonus in my legs. Sometimes they are stiff like planks of wood. While other times they shake uncontrollably. I currently treat this with muscle relaxers, so I began thinking, “Weed effects can’t be any worse on my body than prescription pills? Lets do this!”

Then reality (i.e. my husband) spoke up as he continued reading and revealed some bad news. People who smoked the study’s cannabis had decreased cognitive functioning and scored low on tests that measured their focus. This result was supported by an earlier study in the journal, Neurology, which also showed Multiple Sclerosis patients who smoked medical marijuana have a doubled risk of developing cognitive impairments. While I would love to improve my spasticity, I can’t afford for my cognition to get any worse. Some of my main issues have been with my inability to track conversations, general confusion and memory.

I suppose I should be happy because this may pave the way for continued studies. Hopefully they will examine whether different doses can result in similar beneficial effects with decreased impact to cognition.

But for now my cannabis cure-all dreams have gone up in smoke.

Author: Nicole Lemelle

My name is Nicole Lemelle. I am a writer, activist and a person living with Multiple Sclerosis. I created My New Normals to educate those who do not understand MS, reassure people with similar plights and inspire everyone to seize command of their lives.

40 thoughts on “Up In Smoke”

  1. I drink medical marijuana tea. Google the web for.different medical teas tomake. Because drinking it straight is like bong water gross lOL. Either way if you take pills that are muscle relaxers or pain meds you will be impaired. Why risk the opiate addiction.I rather enjoy a nice tea I made out of Cannaibas and laugh and feel happy. With my Ms I’m so down from it. Shaking,spacity issues and confusion the tea helps me with. Its funny cause when I was younger and smoking it recreationally I would be lost and spaces out now that I have Ms and I feel the constant lost and spaces out I notice the.weed does the reverse effect on me. It actually helps things.make.sense and not confused.

    Please excuse.my.typos and grammar I have a.hard.time not shaking and.my.brain is.very foggy excuse the run onS

    1. If it were legal here in Texas I would for sure smoke it does help with my pain,as well as my fibromalaga acts up .there for makes my authoritez acts up.so I think people that really need the stuff

  2. Wish it were legal here! Though I have my cognitive functioning, I want to stay sober around my kids. It’s really a dilemma for me. BTW: I so enjoyed my visit from u and it was very nice meeting your mom!

  3. In my younger & not a MS’er days, I partaked in smoking MJ….I enjoyed it. Then I got married & my husband was in the military so we stopped. Now he is retired & I have SPMS. I have tried it recently but it seems to me much harsher to smoke, or maybe it’s because my lungs don’t fully expand as they once did, I dont know. I would love to try it mixed w/food. I agree with the others…it can’t be any more harmful the the useless meds we take! I have such horrible spascity, my left hand is in a perpetual fist. MJ use may not “cure” me but I’d probably feel much better mentally! any one out there have any ideas/cures fo the stiffness other than MJ? I take zanaflex but at this point I don’t see any real relief other than it makes me sleep!

  4. I’m with Lisa. I find the herb of truly amazing assistance, when I need it. I don’t use it when I don’t need it.

    Yeah, if you smoke it, your spasticity goes down. You also get high. Often, you laugh. You enjoy listening to music. Does it “help” you? Only you can tell. But, spasticity down, laughter, enjoy music. I’d call that “helping you.”

    Or you can shoot yourself with the standard MS medications, and be constantly nauseated, or stop your heart, or turn your brain to mush and die… long list of side effects, those have, and you won’t know which ones you’re gonna get until you get them. Does it “help” you? If it doesn’t kill you or make you want to kill yourself, that is? Nobody can tell. It’s not possible to tell… there’s no way of knowing whether you didn’t get worse because of the drug, or because that was what the M.S. was going to do anyway.

    Both of them “impair your cognitive functions,” I suppose. But one of them, you don’t enjoy. And that makes it… OK, as a drug???

    Your milage may vary. I know people who made it through chemo only because of weed. I know people who don’t get any positive anything out of it. If it helps you, it helps you. If it doesn’t help, it doesn’t help. That pretty much says it all.

  5. Try edible cannabis instead of smoking. I do and it does wonders without the head buzz gives me a great body feeling instead. Checkout this site… http://www.cannabisdaily.com/topics/cannabis-edibles/ … and this site for research … http://livingcannabis.com/strains/ look on left side for what strains do what and a lot for MS. Hope you find this useful.. Also I have used it for 33yrs and it hasn’t affected my cognition only MS did that for the 16yrs I have had it now.

  6. Because of the job I do I can not condone the use of weed but last year my wife found out she had MS. Every day she suffers from Optic Nutritious and the weed that she smokes helps her to relax after a long day of work

  7. I dont see how weed is anywhere near as bad as
    Any of the meds we take, from brufen to solu-medrol to crab to provigal to tysabri.
    Puff puff works, it really helps spasms cramps pain and sleep.

    😉 the gods made weed, man made meds
    Who do you trust lol
    Seriously just dont smoke to much, like anything in this world!

  8. I have followed Montel’s views on Medical Marijuana. I have only having been diagnosed for the last few years and my views on many things have changed. While once in my life, I would have never considered it an option…I now at least understand why people would choose it. I don’t know that it will ever be the best option for me but I know I won’t rule anything out as this thing progresses. I agree that I would not choose at this point something that would impair the mental cognition. I think that people who are utilizing it are at a whole other level of pain and impairment than I.
    When you mentioned the pain…I watched an interview with Montel once regarding the pain. He described a sharp stabbing pain in his feet. I couldn’t imagine that at the time. I do understand it now. Luckily, I have only experienced that a few times and it has came and went. However, if he experiences that constantly…well, I can understand.

  9. Hi Nicole,
    It really surprises me that in these studies that they also neglect to talk about Sativex, a spray that like Nitro, goes under the tounge and is derived from the actual plant. It is already legal in Canada, UK, and a couple of other countries. It is waiting approval by the FDA for the US. Most of these studies concentrate on the actual smoking of it for relief. When I got my doctors recommedation for my card he told me I would be better off not smoking it but to eat the medibles as I would get the desired relief without the cog issues. I only smoke it as we have no dispensaries around and the only time I smoke is before I go to bed so I can sleep and don’t have to worry about any cog issues. They also never tell you how strong the strain they use is. I have a site book marked that tells you what strain does what, from pain relief to being a vegtable sitting on the couch and everything in between. It seems to be trial and error thing. I have had some I’ve tried and am pain free and can function fine and on the other hand have had some that I was so stoned I could’nt walk, really hated that type. But like I said it is rare that I smoke and when I do I can sleep pain free and my legs calm down and stop doing there own thing. Many famous people have smoked. Some for recreation like President Obama and Bush and others like Montel Williams and he seems to be doing fine in life. I would suggest that if you ever do decide to try it, that you do some research first and find what is right for the relief you seek and not try something so strong that it will turn you off to it and make you a zombie. Myself I’m SPMS. Don’t give up just yet on trying it but do the research first and if you would like I will dig up the directory to the different strains and send it to you as we all deserve some kind of relief from the misery of MS. Keep up tour great work.
    Be well my friend

  10. Nicole, I smoke every evening and it does help me immensely. I may score lower on tests but I feel better. I have a medical marijuana card and can go to the store to purchase it. I really don’t feel any negative effects. It does help me eat as I am very thin. It relaxes me and makes bad situations bearable. I highly (no pun intended) recommend it. It also helped me through cancer. I didn’t get sick once from chemotherapy!

  11. High there, Nicole.
    I have the planking and clonus issues too. Makes it difficult or impossible to stay in the wheelchair at times. Sometimes I can’t bend my legs to fit into the car. I’ve tried muscle relaxing drugs. Not only did they not relieve my spasticity, they caused horrible insomnia and cognitive issues.The effects of marijuana couldn’t be any worse. I’d sure use it if it were easier to obtain. I once had a prescription, but there’s nowhere to get it in my area. Marijuana is carcinogenic when smoked, but there must be another way to get it into my system (brownies?).

      1. Of course. My will hasn’t reached that point yet. I mean if my daughter and her friends can get it with no problem, I know I could too – just ask the kids where they go to score some. But seriously, if it was at a store down the street, I’d be doing it already.

        1. That made me laugh! Back in the late 70’s (think of “that 70’s show”!) everyone knew how & where to “score” some pot! Back then, I think what we smoked was more like grass clippings compared to today’s super duper pot (I haven’t smoked any in over 30 yrs). Having SPMS & cognitive issues… I don’t think it’d be a great idea for me. However, I do miss that feeling of EVERYTHING being hilarious!

  12. i have spent time thinking about this very subject. i wonder though, wouldn’t the effect of the pharmaco’s medications be the same when it comes to cognition? when i was taking muscle relaxers and pain meds, my brain didn’t work at all!

    i wish there was some easier answer to all of our woes, but i think that no matter what path any of us chooses, there will be negatives.

  13. Nicole, while I’d love to have a ‘pot party’ with you, I, too, have stayed away from the MJ! I have heard that you don’t have to smoke it (and I’m not sure about the ‘brownies’) but there is a derivative that preserves cognition but alleviates pain. Maybe it’s worth looking into.

  14. I had a debate with my sister-in-law, a general practice doctor in Washington state, about a study on MS patients and cannabis (MJ). The study she showed me said the pain relief was mostly in people who had used MJ previously. For the others, it was not shown to be better than a placebo. When I started reading the study, it was pretty clearly conducted by somebody with an agenda, and the population studied was very small at only one point in time so statistical significance was a high hurdle. I also question what is wrong with a placebo if it works, but that’s a different discussion.

    I would point out other studies have shown MJ to be very useful for pain across many ailments other than MS. I know it’s one reason many sports players smoke it. My college soccer team certainly did. To think, I was the odd ball who refused, and now I could get it legally (still don’t). For MS, I see there are 147 patients who report using it on patientslikeme.com, and very few of them have reported cognitive side effects. Of course, I have long wondered how accurately I can tell when my cognition fails me. I also note almost half (60) of them take it for stiffness/spasticity, and it’s best reported results have been for dealing with that symptom.

  15. Yep medical MJ is “legal” here in Canada. It is made available for numerous conditions, MS being one of them. I do not take any medication for MS, except for a very mild OTC muscle relaxer on the days my spasticity ramps up. I was seriously considering trying the MJ, but having smoked a joint or two as a teenager, I remembered I hated the feeling of being stoned. The medical MJ is grown to be very high in THC content, and that makes you very high! So, no medical MJ for me.

    We also have a prescription product in Canada called Sativex, which is a concentrated spray of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), that you squirt under your tongue, pot in a puffer I call it. It has the same intoxicating effect as smoking a joint. So that’s out too!

  16. Hello from weed friendly Canada ..my SO has a medical marijuana licience and he finds great relief from many symptoms. He has some concurrent disorders which means he is not a czndidate for any steriod based meds.

    In particular it helps with his pain. spasms and nausea and lifts his moods considerably sometimes He finds he must be careful not to Overuse.especially during the day !!

    I think it is good to stay within your own personal comfort zone with all possible treatments.

    I read your blog every week but do not always comment..Peace KT

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