Marijuana to stay awake? A closer look at its ‘medicinal purposes’

December 5, 2018 - 8:36 PM
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Duterte gestures with hands
President Rodrigo Duterte joked that he uses marijuana to stay awake, a remark that has been defended by the Palace. (The STAR/File photo)

The Palace defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s “joke” about his supposed marijuana usage and said that he is in favor of legalizing it for “medicinal purposes.”

Duterte explained in a speech last Monday night that he missed some meetings during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Singapore and had to take marijuana to stay awake and cope with the schedule.

“The President has issued a statement on that. He said for medical purposes, to heal, he’s in favor, but not for use other than that,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

He also claimed that marijuana is “not a stimulant,” although research indicates it can elevate moods, cause anxiety, paranoia and increase one’s heartbeat.

Marijuana as treatment

Marijuana is generally used in some parts of the United States to control pain, although it is not effective in severe cases, according to physician Peter Grinspoon.

There are at least two active chemicals in the drug that are believed to have medicinal benefits—cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Marijuana is effective in treating chronic pain, particularly those associated with multiple sclerosis and the nerves. Grinspoon added that it is “safer than opiates” and it can act as a substitute for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

“Marijuana is said to be a fantastic muscle relaxant, and people swear by its ability to lessen tremors in Parkinson’s disease,” he said.

The drug is also used to counter nausea, weight loss and some cases of glaucoma or a group of diseases that cause damage to the eye.

Marijuana plant
Marijuana has medicinal purposes that can mostly relieve pain. (Creative Commons/File photo)

“Medical marijuana is also reported to help patients suffering from pain and wasting syndrome associated with HIV, as well as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease,” Grinspoon said.

There are also cases of marijuana being used to treat epilepsy in children, although there is not enough scientific evidence to back it up.

Other cases for the use of medicinal marijuana include concussion, Alzheimer’s disease and bipolar disorder.

It can also be used as a stimulant, depressant or a hallucinogen, although the effects are reported to “vary widely from person to person.”

Duterte and his health 

Duterte previously disclosed that he has several health issues, namely Buerger’s Disease, Barrett’s Esophagus, gastroesophageal reflux, spinal problems and daily migraines. 

Last September, he admitted that he underwent colonoscopy and endoscopy after receiving relentless inquiries about his state of health.

The chief executive was also asked about his dark facial skin but attributed it to different factors such as sunburn, aging and even his partner’s facial cream.

Eight senatorial bets have previously requested that Duterte should issue medical bulletins regarding his health.

Panelo responded that the president agreed with the suggestion, although he didn’t elaborate.

“The question was whether or not the president should issue (a) medical bulletin in case of serious illness? The president agrees with that,” the Presidential Spokesperson said.

Duterte is the oldest person to have been elected president of the country. He is 73-years-old.