Unless you’ve been out of Las Vegas (or Nevada) for the last year, you don’t have access to the media, or you’ve been living in a cave, you know pot is legal for anyone over 21, not just medical marijuana patients.
So why are we even discussing medical marijuana in Las Vegas? Simple: patients and recreational users have very different reasons and needs for medical marijuana. At NuWu, we’re passionate about helping everyone, and we have an unwavering commitment to helping patients.
In this article, you’ll get answers not only about Las Vegas medical marijuana, but answers to many of the most common questions people have about medical cannabis and Las Vegas medical marijuana, including:
- How Do I Become a Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Patient?
- What Medical Conditions Qualify for a Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Card?
- Does It Make Sense to Get a Medical Card With Recreational Weed Being Legal?
- What Gives Cannabis Its Medical Effects?
- What Are Cannabinoids And Terpenes And Why Are They Important?
- What is the Entourage Effect?
- What Are the Medical Benefits of Cannabis?
- Is It Dangerous to Smoke Cannabis If I Have a Medical Condition?
How Do I Become a Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Patient?
The process is relatively easy. If you’d like to become a patient, you can use the Online Cardholder Registry to apply to become a verified Las Vegas medical marijuana patient.
Las Vegas medical marijuana patients must have a qualifying diagnosed chronic or debilitating condition (see below).
You also need to register with the state to protect yourself from prosecution (patients can possess much more cannabis than rec users and cultivation laws are more lenient).
Prospective Las Vegas medical marijuana patients are also required to complete and an Application Request Form.
You’ll also need to:
- Pay the $25 for application request fee
- Provide a copy of the front and back of your driver’s license or State ID
If you’re designating a caretaker, you’ll also need to provide a copy of the front and back of your designated caretaker’s driver’s license or State ID.
For more information on becoming a verified Las Vegas medical marijuana patient, read Americans for Safe Access pamphlet, Becoming a Patient in Nevada.
Las Vegas Medical Marijuana: What Medical Conditions Qualify for a Card?
To become a Las Vegas Medical Marijuana patient, you need to have been diagnosed with one of the following conditions:
- Cachexia (body weakness or wasting induced by a chronic condition)
- Persistent Muscle Spasms (includes Multiple Sclerosis)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Seizures (includes Epilepsy)
- Severe Nausea
- Severe Pain
You may qualify with an unlisted condition if approved by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Las Vegas Medical Marijuana: Does It Make Sense to Get a Medical Card With Recreational Weed Being Legal?
With cannabis being legal in Nevada for anyone over 21 years of age, many people question why they would even need or want to go through the process of becoming a patient.
This is a fair question. However, it still makes sense for many people to get their card.
- A medical card exempts you from the 10% sales tax rec users have to pay.
- With a card, you can possess up to 2.5 times more marijuana than recreational users are permitted to possess. Rec users can only possess 1 oz.
- Statewide, including Las Vegas Medical Marijuana cardholders, can grow their own weed if they are too sick or don’t have a way to get to a dispensary. Rec users are only allowed to grow their own if their closest dispensary is 25 miles or more away from their residence.
- If you’re younger than 21, you may still be able to get a medical recommendation allowing you to purchase cannabis, whereas rec users have to be over the age of 21.
Benefits of Medical Marijuana: What Makes Cannabis Medically Beneficial?
The culmination of medical marijuana research suggests cannabis is the most therapeutically versatile plant known to mankind. In fact, we know of no pharmaceutical drugs that are a therapeutically versatile as cannabis.
Many Las Vegas medical marijuana doctors (and doctors across the world) who have studied medical cannabis characterize the plant as being pharmacological treasure chest given how many clinically useful cannabinoids and terpenes there are in the plant.
But, what is responsible for giving cannabis therapeutic properties? Cannabinoids and terpenes.
What Are Cannabinoids And Terpenes And Why Are They Important?
Cannabinoids vs Terpenes
Cannabinoids are the active constituents (or, ingredients) in the plant that give cannabis its therapeutic benefits. Scientists have so far identified 113 different cannabinoids, but the two most studied are THC and CBD. These are the two most prominent cannabinoids in the plant, and the two the public is most familiar with.
Many Las Vegas medical marijuana doctors characterize them as Yin and Yang because of their complementary properties. THC, as you may already know, is responsible for the psychotropic effects of cannabis (e.g. “the high”). CBD is the opposite, producing little to no psychotropic effects, and even lowering the psychotropic effects of THC.
While this may seem like opposing effects — not complementary — they are in fact complementary because together they can produce more therapeutic benefits than either alone. Likewise, if a patient needs to raise their dose of THC but doesn’t want to feel more high, by increasing CBD, they realize the benefits of THC without getting more “high.”
Terpenes are the essential oils of plants (all plants, not just cannabis), many of which are not only responsible for giving cannabis its aroma, many have proven health and therapeutic benefits.
What is the Entourage Effect?
As we touched on, cannabinoids and terpenes work together synergistically to produce more health and medical benefits than isolated compounds. This is what’s known as the “entourage effect,” a term coined by Dr. Ethan Russo.
What Are the Medical Benefits of Cannabis?
Cannabis, being so therapeutically versatile, has numerous medical and health benefits. However, because cannabis was demonized and stigmatized for so long, many people in the medical cannabis community seem compelled to hold cannabis to a higher standard than FDA-approved drugs, characterizing cannabis as a panacea that can treat or cure just about everything, from glaucoma to male pattern baldness. This is silly, and there’s no reason to portray cannabis as a panacea.
If you compare cannabis to the roughly 1600 FDA-approved drugs, you can’t find a single drug that is more therapeutically versatile, while having so few potential (intolerable) side-effects than cannabis.
So, in this article, we’ll provide you with unbiased information on what cannabis is effective for based on the most significant “consensus report” published to date — The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids — produced by the prestigious National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the scientific collective of the National Academy of the United States. (Note: This isn’t an exhaustive list. For a comprehensive list and references to supporting research, we encourage you to read the original report.)
There are different levels of evidence that you should familiarize yourself with, as there conclusive evidence for many conditions, while other conditions may need more high-quality randomized-controlled trials before the medical community deems the evidence for that condition conclusive.
- CONCLUSIVE OR SUBSTANTIAL evidence: There’s strong evidence from randomized controlled trials (the highest quality research);
- MODERATE evidence (meaning there could be some or even a significant amount of research supporting the conclusions, but gold-standard clinical research is limited or non-existent);
- LIMITED evidence, meaning there’s evidence from fair-quality studies mixed findings with most favoring a single conclusion.
CONCLUSIVE or SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE:
There’s conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis is effective in treating the following:
- Chronic Pain: There numerous studies providing unassailable evidence that cannabis is effective for chronic pain. Given the current opioid crisis, the fact that so much evidence exists suggest cannabis can either replace opioid treatment or at least reduce the amount of opioids patients need to take to find relief is hugely important. And, it’s perhaps the greatest argument for the federal legalization of medical cannabis. There’s even evidence concluding that in states who have legalized medical marijuana, see a 25% drop in opioid-related deaths.
- Cancer Care: There’s conclusive evidence that cannabis can be hugely beneficial in helping cancer patients reduce or eliminate nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy; and, that cannabis can improve their quality of life.
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS): There’s strong evidence that cannabinoids improve the spasticity symptoms caused by MS.
- Insomnia: There’s solid evidence (but we still need more high-quality studies) that cannabis or cannabinoids help individuals living with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis sleep better.
Keep in mind; LIMITED evidence isn’t necessarily a negative. It simply means we don’t have enough high-quality studies, and we need to conduct more research. Medical marijuana faces far more research obstacles than most drugs due to the fact the DEA has refused to reschedule cannabis. As a Schedule I drug, they still consider cannabis to have NO medical benefits, and that it’s highly addictive, classifying it alongside Heroin. YES, that’s just nuts, right?!?
Interestingly, well-known “party drugs” have faced far fewer obstacles than cannabis. For example, ketamine (a powerful dissociative) is FDA-approved and now used to treat depression. MDMA (“ecstasy”) is not yet FDA-approved to treat PTSD, but it’s moving along the FDA approval pipeline much faster than cannabis.
Below is a list of conditions or symptoms where there’s not enough evidence yet, but what evidence exists positively supports a role for cannabis:
- HIV/AIDS: More research is needed to prove cannabis is effective for decreasing HIV/AIDS-related weight loss. Cannabis, obviously, gives people the munchies, but whether that translates to inhibiting weight-loss is inconclusive.
- Tourette Syndrome: Research on Tourette’s has been largely limited to THC capsules. The research that exists is positive, but we still need more research.
- Anxiety: There have been several studies suggesting CBD can reduce anxiety, however, these were short studies with small numbers of research subjects. The studies assessed anxiety of people diagnosed with social anxiety disorders using a public speaking test.
- PTSD: That there’s only limited evidence demonstrating the efficacy is controversial. There are a number of important studies of large populations of soldiers or veterans who’ve been exposed to combat that were overwhelmingly positive, yet the consensus panel didn’t include them in their report. Also, it’s important to note that researchers — like Dr. Sue Sisley — have faced monumental obstacles trying to get studies off the ground to conduct FDA-approved studies.
NON-EXISTENT or INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE
Finally, despite all the anecdotal evidence of cannabis curing cancer and the preclinical lab studies showing anticancer properties of various cannabinoids, there’ve been virtually no CLINICAL studies to draw any conclusions. There’s been just one study, conducted by Dr. Manuel Guzman, who conducted a study with 11 people with late-stage brain cancer. All 11 subjects died within a year.
Moreover, cancer is incredibly complex. It’s not a single disease; it’s a term used to describe hundreds of related diseases. So it’s unlikely there will be a single “magic bullet” that could cure every type of cancer. It may turn out that cannabis or cannabinoids may be effective for non-melanoma skin cancer, but not for prostate cancer. Nonetheless, what we do is cannabis is highly effective for end-of-life care, reducing chemo-induced nausea, and improving cancer patients’ quality of life.
Is It Dangerous to Smoke Cannabis If I Have a Medical Condition?
The answer: Possibly. It depends on how long, how often, and how much cannabis you smoke.
On the one hand, there’s substantial evidence that long-term chronic smoking of cannabis can worsen respiratory symptoms and increase the frequency of chronic bronchitis episodes. There’s also some evidence of that smoking cannabis may increase your risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
However, there’s also moderate evidence that short-term use of cannabis can improve airway dynamics (but this doesn’t apply to chronic use), and that use can increase forced vital capacity (FVC). FVC refers to how much is the most amount of air an individual can expel from their lungs following maximum inhalation. There’s also no evidence that suggests an association between smoking cannabis with lung cancer.
Bottom line: Smoking cannabis occasionally may be safe (unless you have a respiratory condition). Chronic smoking, however, is probably not the best idea. If you know you’re at risk for a respiratory condition, be safe! Fortunately, it’s easy to do these days, as we have lots of choices: edibles, vaping, capsules, tinctures, etc. It’s important to note that many local Las Vegas medical marijuana doctors we spoke with advise patients to use alternative intake methods to smoking.
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