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Patrick Stewart Uses Marijuana ‘Several Times a Day’ to Relieve Arthritis Pain

In a revelation bound to stir up controversy among die-hard anti-cannabis folks, Patrick Stewart — aka Captain Picard of Star Trek — has admitted that he uses cannabis-based spray, ointment and pills to relieve the stiffness and pain of his arthritis. He purchases the cannabis legally and has no negative side effects from using it, Fox News reported.

I am completely confident that it won’t be long before ordinary folks join hands with high-profile figures like Stewart to demand the decriminalization of medical marijuana in the U.S. and the right to use it without fear for real medical needs. The fact that we even have to do this is disturbing.

We've come a long way in the U.S. when it comes to re-normalizing the use of medicinal marijuana, but the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is still stonewalling the effort by refusing to acknowledge the benefits of cannabis, and in fact regressing rather than progressing in this arena: In December 2016, the agency announced cannabidiol (CBD) is being reclassified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, putting it on par with LSD and heroin.

This, despite the fact that CBD has no psychoactive component, meaning it cannot render you "high." This is truly tragic when you consider the many medical uses for CBD. As Stewart has confirmed, it’s an excellent muscle relaxer that can ease spasms and pain through a topical application, or addressed internally through edible versions (which tend to provide the deepest and most long-lasting relaxation and pain relief).

The reason you can use it both topically and as an ingested substance is because cannabinoids work by interacting with your body through naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors embedded in cell membranes throughout your body. There are cannabinoid receptors in your brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune system and more. Both the therapeutic and psychoactive properties of marijuana occur when a cannabinoid activates a cannabinoid receptor. This is what makes medical cannabis so useful, depending on your need and the way you choose to use it

With so many people scrambling to find legal ways to obtain relief through this very effective substance, it’s clear that urgent action needs to be taken, if for no other reason than to fight the opioid epidemic occurring in the U.S. and around the world. Medical marijuana, which has far fewer side effects and is effective for pain relief, fits the bill for reform at the federal level, and I urge you to contact your senators and Congresspersons to address this need.

Meanwhile, it’s good that individual states are listening to the pleas of their citizens, and are enacting laws that allow their citizens to use medical marijuana within their own state. What’s frustrating is that a 2013 survey found a majority of physicians — 76 percent — approve of the use of medical marijuana.

And, for the record, even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their policy statement on marijuana, acknowledging that cannabinoids from marijuana “may currently be an option for … children with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions and for whom current therapies are inadequate.”

The only question left is, with all this support from the medical community itself, why is the DEA being so backward?