Health
2:00 pm
Sat January 5, 2013

Public hearing will discuss adding Parkinson's disease to medical marijuana list

Credit normalityrelief / morguefile

Parkinson's disease could be added to the list of illnesses that would qualify for medical marijuana use in Michigan.

A public hearing in Lansing later this month will address the issue.

Parkinson's disease  is a disorder of the brain that leads to tremors and stiffness. It can cause difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination. 

Dr. Kelvin Chou is an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan. He says about one in every 1,000 Americans will be diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Symptoms usually begin in people in their early sixties, but some are diagnosed in their forties or fifties.

When asked if medical marijuana would be helpful to treat Parkinson's disease, he said:

"There are certainly anecdotal reports of people who've used medical marijuana in the past, and  they report it makes them feel better."

However, Chou says only few small studies have been done, and they found marijuana didn't noticeably ease Parkinson's symptoms.

"They were looking at its effect on dyskenesis, which are extra involuntary movements, and really haven't found it's been that effective for those symptoms."

Chou cautions marijuana could cause a rapid heart rate as well as increased appetite, which could lead to high blood pressure.

The public hearing will be held on Fri., Jan. 25 at 1 p.m. at the Michigan Library and Historical Center in Lansing. Written comments can be submitted through March 11.

The decision to add an illness to the list of conditions approved for medical marijuana use lies with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.