Eye-opening results

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at ask420@newsreview.com.

Is there a recommended type of cannabis for relieving glaucoma?


Good question. People have used marijuana to treat the symptoms of glaucoma for years. In fact, Robert Randall, the first person to receive medical marijuana from the U.S. government, suffered from glaucoma. Elvy Musikka, one of the four people left on the program, also uses cannabis to treat glaucoma.

Before we get into this, let’s remember that, as I’ve said before, I am not a doctor. Consult your physician before taking on any cannabis-related regimens.

The American Glaucoma Society recognizes the helpfulness of cannabis in treatment, according to a position statement that can be found on the AGS website. Cannabis assists patients by lowering pressure between the eyes, but even the statement notes that since the effects only last about three hours, you have to toke up multiple times a day to have relief.

The statement goes on to say that “marijuana’s mood altering effects would prevent the patient who is using it from driving, operating heavy machinery and functioning at maximum mental capacity. Marijuana cigarettes also contain hundreds of compounds that damage the lungs, and the deleterious effect of chronic, frequent use of marijuana upon the brain is also well established.”

That’s all good, aside from the fact that new research shows marijuana doesn’t harm the lungs or the brain (this particular post is dated 2009, so maybe they haven’t looked at the new studies demonstrating that pot doesn’t harm your lungs or brain: http://tinyurl.com/newpotresearch and http://tinyurl.com/potandthebrain, respectively).

They make a good point about glaucoma patients maybe not wanting to have to smoke weed constantly. I called my friend Clint Werner, author of Marijuana, Gateway to Health, and the first thing he said was, “Yeah, it helps, but you have to smoke a lot. Robert Randall smoked, like, seven joints a day.”

Seven joints per day may not seem like much to those of you for whom cannabis use is a lifestyle decision, but even if you roll a pinner, that’s a pretty good amount of weed. Someone unaccustomed to being slightly stoned all the time may decide that the benefits of cannabis don’t outweigh the side effects. Clint said tinctures may help those folks who don’t want to puff all day, every day. More from the AGS:

“An exciting finding in the past decade is the discovery of receptors for the active components of marijuana in the tissues of the eye itself, suggesting that local administration has the possibility of being effective.”

How cool would that be? Imagine weed-based eye drops that help people with glaucoma. I am hoping the DEA is really serious about rescheduling cannabis so that the scientists can do science things and maybe find a cure.