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Could Medical Marijuana Protect You After a Brain Injury?

There is a political debate raging in this country over whether pot should be considered a medicine or a recreational drug. But now one study is showing clear evidence that medical marijuana could just save your life after a traumatic brain injury.

A study by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed), compared the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, with death rates in patients who suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI). Of the study’s 446 patients, 82 tested positive for THC. Patients who tested THC positive had a 2.4% chance of dying from their injury. For their non-using counterparts that number was 11.5%. That means that people with THC were about 80% less likely to die.

The study’s lead author, David Plurad, M.D., built off of previous studies that showed certain marijuana compounds helped to protect animal brains following a trauma. Another study suggested alcohol could have a similar affect, but Plurad’s research found “it didn’t turn out to be as protective as the presence of the marijuana.” That result leads Plurad to believe that THC use could predict and improve the chances of survival after TBI.

But the study does have some limitations. THC can stay in a person’s system for up to 30 days. That means that Plurad’s tests couldn’t distinguish one-time users from those with a regular regimen of medical marijuana use. Future studies to distinguish these behaviors could be challenging because the federal Controlled Substances Act restricts experimentation using Schedule I drugs like marijuana.

Schedule I is a label reserved for the most dangerous drugs, which have no proven medical value. The label requires researchers to jump through bureaucratic hoops before performing scientific tests regarding their use. That’s why some medical marijuana advocates are asking that the Food and Drug Administration to reschedule marijuana as a drug with valid medical uses. Currently 22 states have some form of medical marijuana protection. Rescheduling the drug would open it up to easier testing and approval for medical uses, including treatment following brain injury.

If you or someone you love has suffered from traumatic brain injury, be sure to talk to your doctors before using any kind of treatment, including medical marijuana. The use of marijuana is still illegal under federal law, even in states like Michigan that provide some protection for qualified medical users. You should never try any kind of medical treatment without supervision from your doctor.

That’s why it is important to have the best team available to treat your traumatic brain injury. Top doctors and therapists will know how to address your injury, and top lawyers can help you pay for that treatment. If you or someone you love suffered a brain injury as a result of an automobile accident, contact the brain injury specialists at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan today for a free consultation.