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Number of Americans Who Could Benefit From Medical Cannabis

Medical marijuana treatment could provide therapeutic benefits to over 687 million cases of ailments or diseases in the United States. Learn more about the conditions and diseases that studies have shown medical marijuana therapeutic effects.

Cannabis’ Health-Improving Potential for Americans

Studies have shown that cannabis has both anti-inflammatory and anesthetic properties. These studies have also demonstrated its potential as a viable treatment option for helping to manage chronic pain, nausea and spasms, and for providing healing effects for those with serious conditions like multiple sclerosis, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer and spinal cord injuries.

Americans suffer from one or more of approximately 687,696,716 cases of ailments or diseases of which cannabis has been shown to positively impact; a stat that drives home the importance of cannabis access as more states consider legalizing access to those who need it medically.

As scientific research revealing cannabis’ restorative capabilities mounts and social attitudes over marijuana use shift, further legislative changes that allow greater access to ailing Americans will likely follow.

Legal medical cannabis access various between states, but you can get an idea of how many Americans could benefit from cannabis’ therapeutic offerings by looking at the various diseases, symptoms and conditions that medical cannabis has shown to help alleviate.

Conditions For Which Medical Marijuana is now a Treatment

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. In 2015, there are 5.3 million Americans with the disease. Studies have shown marijuana can help slow the production of beta-amyloid proteins, which are considered a key contributor to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. (2015). Alzheimer’s Association. Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/facts/overview.asp.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)

About 20,000 Americans have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) at any given time. Studies have shown marijuana effectively slows the progression of the disease and helps patients manage the disease’s associated symptoms.

What is ALS? (2015). ALS Association. Retrieved from http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html

Anorexia

Approximately 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. Studies have shown marijuana to be an effective treatment for some aspects of the disorder, and several states have approved medical marijuana as a treatment.

Get The Facts on Eating Disorders. (n.d.). National Eating Disorders Association. Retrieved from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-facts-eating-disorders.

Anxiety

Anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States, making it the most common mental illness in the country. Studies have shown marijuana can reduce autonomic arousal and subjective anxiety.

Facts & Statistics. (2014, September). Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved from http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics.

Arnold Chiari Malformation

Arnold Chiari Malformation was once thought to be rare, but increased use of MRI’s have shown it’s much more common than originally thought. Estimates are as high as 500,000 in the U.S. Studies have shown marijuana can help curtail the pain, sleeping problems and spasms often associated with the condition.

Questions About Chiari. (2014). Conquer Chiari. Retrieved from http://www.conquerchiari.org/education/chiari-faqs.html.

Autism

More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. Studies have shown marijuana can help repair the brain’s ability to send clear signals, thus improve behavior and communication.

Facts and Statistics. (2015, August 26). Autism Society. Retrieved from http://www.autism-society.org/what-is/facts-and-statistics/.

Bone Health

An estimated 54 million U.S. adults are affected by osteoporosis and low bone mass. Studies have shown marijuana can boost bone density and assist in healing.

54 Million Americans Affected by Osteoporosis and Low Bone Mass. (2014, June 2). National Osteoporosis Foundation. Retrieved from http://nof.org/news/2948.

Cachexia (Wasting Syndrome)

Cachexia, a condition associated with serious health diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS, affects more than 5 million people in the U.S. (Morley, Thomas & Wilson, 2006). Studies have shown marijuana boosts appetite and increases body weight and energy levels.

Morley, J.E., Thomas, D.R., and Wilson, M.G. (2006, April). Cachexia: pathophysiology and clinical relevance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83(4), 735-743.

Cancer

In 2015, there were an estimated 1,658,370 new cases of cancer diagnosed in the United States and 589,430 are expected to pass away. The number of people living beyond cancer diagnoses reached nearly 14.5 million in 2014. Studies have shown marijuana has the capability of helping cancer patients manage the nausea, pain and weight loss related to cancer treatments, and even limit the growth or kill cancer cells.

Cancer Statistics. (n.d.) National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/what-is-cancer/statistics.

Cardiovascular Disease

There are 26.6 million adults (11% of total adult population) diagnosed with heart disease in the United States. Studies have shown marijuana can protect against hypertension, stroke, atherosclerosis and heart attacks by causing blood vessels to vasodilate (relax and widen).

Heart Disease. (2015, May 14). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/heart-disease.htm.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain, which can be caused by an injury, infection or an ongoing cause like arthritis or cancer, affects 100 million Americans. Studies have shown marijuana is highly effective at lowering all types of pain, including the pain that’s shown to be resistant to other treatments.

AAPM Facts and Figures on Pain. (n.d.). The American Academy of Pain Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.painmed.org/patientcenter/facts_on_pain.aspx.

Institute of Medicine report from the Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care, and Education: Relieving Pain in America, A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research. The National Academies Press, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/read/13172/chapter/2.

Cirrhosis

In 2010, there were 101,000 chronic liver disease and cirrhosis patients that received hospital care. Studies show that a cannabinoid found in marijuana can help combat the progression of cirrhosis.

Chronic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis. (2015, February 6). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/liver-disease.htm.

Depression

Approximately 14.8 million American adults are affected by a major depressive disorder. Studies have shown marijuana has antidepressant-like effects.

Depression Statistics. (n.d.). Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Retrieved from

Diabetes

In the United States, more than 29 million people have diabetes. Studies have shown marijuana reduces the risk of diabetes, can help treat diabetes once it’s developed, and assists in the management of pain associated with the disease.

Diabetes Latest. (2014, June 17). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesfactsheet/.

Dystonia

As many as 250,000 people in the United States have dystonia. Studies have shown marijuana can reduce dystonic movements.

Dystonia. (2005, October). American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Retrieved from http://www.aans.org/patient%20information/conditions%20and%20treatments/dystonia.aspx.

Epilepsy

The current estimate is thought to be 2.2 million people in the U.S., with 150,000 more being diagnosed each year. Studies have shown a major cannabinoid found in marijuana is effective at significantly decreasing the frequency of seizures and has the potential of offering complete seizure freedom.

Epilepsy Statistics. (2014, March). Epilepsy Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/epilepsy-statistics.

Fibromyalgia

About 5.8 million Americans have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Studies have shown marijuana effectively lowers pain levels and improves quality of sleep in patients.

Fibromyalgia. (n.d.). National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Retrieved from http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Fibromyalgia/.

Fibrous Dysplasia

It is estimated that 9,000 to 18,000 people in the United States will have a diagnosis of fibrous dysplasia in their lifetime. Studies have shown marijuana can help manage pain associated with the disorder.

FAQ About FD. (n.d.). Fibrous Dysplasia Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.fibrousdysplasia.org/index.php?page=16.

Glaucoma

It is estimated that over 3 million Americans have glaucoma, which is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. Studies have shown marijuana decreases intraocular pressure.

Glaucoma Facts and Stats. (2015, May 5). Glaucoma Research Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.glaucoma.org/glaucoma/glaucoma-facts-and-stats.php.

Hepatitis C Virus

In 2013, there were an estimated 29,718 cases of acute Hepatitis C virus and an estimated 2.7 million people in the U.S. have chronic Hepatitis C virus infection. Studies have shown marijuana shows potential as an anti-inflammatory treatment and helps patients manage symptoms associated with the virus.

Hepatitis C FAQs for the Public. (2015, May 31). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/cfaq.htm#cFAQ21.

Heroin Addiction

An estimated 153,000 people in the United States use heroin. Studies have shown marijuana reduces withdrawal symptoms and therefore can be used in the early treatment for addiction.

International Statistics. (n.d.). Drug-Free World. Retrieved from http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/heroin/international-statistics.html.

HIV/AIDS

More than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV infection and there are approximately 50,000 new infections every year. Studies have shown marijuana helps make side effects of HIV/AIDS treatment more manageable.

U.S. Statistics. (2014, December 2). AIDS.gov. Retrieved from https://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/hiv-aids-101/statistics/.

Huntington’s Disease

Approximately 30,000 Americans have been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease.

What Is Huntington’s Disease? (2015). Huntington’s Disease Society of America. Retrieved from http://hdsa.org/what-is-hd/#scope.

Hydrocephalus

More than 1 million Americans live with hydrocephalus. Studies have shown that marijuana helps improve the secondary symptoms associated with the condition.

Facts and Stats. (n.d.). Hydrocephalus Association. Retrieved from http://www.hydroassoc.org/about-us/newsroom/facts-and-stats-2/.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis)

Approximately 1.4 million Americans have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Studies have shown marijuana is effective at decreasing digestive track inflammation and in some cases can help patients achieve long-term remission.

The Facts About Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. (2014, November). Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Retrieved from http://www.ccfa.org/assets/pdfs/ibdfactbook.pdf.

Leukemia

In 2014, about 52,380 were diagnosed with leukemia. In addition, there are an estimated 327,520 people living with, or in remission from, leukemia in the U.S. Studies have shown marijuana stimulates leukemia cell death and assists in the management of symptoms associated with cancer and traditional cancer treatments.

Facts and Statistics. (n.d.). Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Retrieved from https://www.lls.org/facts-and-statistics/facts-and-statistics-overview.

Lupus

About 1.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with lupus. Studies have shown marijuana reduces inflammation and pain caused by the disease.

Statistics on Lupus. (2015). Lupus Foundation of America. Retrieved from http://www.lupus.org/about/statistics-on-lupus.

Migraine

Migraines affect about 38 million men, women and children in the U.S. Studies have shown marijuana reduces pain caused by migraines.

Migraine Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Migraine Research Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.migraineresearchfoundation.org/fact-sheet.html.

Mitochondrial Disease

An estimated 1 in 4,000 people in the United States have mitochondrial disease. Studies have shown marijuana is effective at helping patients manage symptoms associated with the disease.

About Mitochondrial Disease – Mito FAQ. (n.d.). Mito Action. Retrieved from http://www.mitoaction.org/mito-faq.

Muscular Dystrophy

An estimated 1 of every 5,600 to 7,700 males 5 through 24 years of age had muscular dystrophy. Studies have shown marijuana helps reduce pain and involuntary muscle contractions.

Data & Statistics. (2015, August 7). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/musculardystrophy/data.html.

Multiple Sclerosis

About 400,000 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Studies have shown marijuana reduces pain and muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and helps slow the disease’s progression.

MS Prevalence. (n.d.). National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Retrieved from http://www.nationalmssociety.org/About-the-Society/MS-Prevalence.

Nail-Patella Syndrome

Nail-patella syndrome affects one in 50,000 people in the U.S. There are expected to be number 3,932,181 births in 2015, which means about 78 newborns will be diagnosed with Nail-patella syndrome. Studies have shown marijuana can reduce pain and lower the risk and progression of glaucoma and kidney disease, which can develop from nail-patella syndrome.

Nail-Patella Syndrome. (n.d.). Kellogg Eye Center. Retrieved from http://www.kellogg.umich.edu/patientcare/conditions/nail-patella.html.

Nausea

Nausea affects innumerable people in the United States. Studies have shown marijuana helps curtail nausea once it’s developed and helps reduce anticipatory nausea.

Obesity

About 78.6 million adults in the United States are obese. Studies have shown marijuana can produce weight loss.

Adult Obesity Facts. (2015, September 21). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html.

Parkinson’s Disease

About 1 million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease and approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed each year. Studies have shown marijuana reduces the progression of Parkinson’s disease and helps manage associated symptoms.

Statistics on Parkinson’s. (n.d.). Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.pdf.org/en/parkinson_statistics.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

There are approximately 22.4 million Americans that suffer from PTSD. Studies have shown marijuana can lessen the emotional impact of traumatic events, reduce anxiety and fear, and improve sleep.

PTSD Statistics. (n.d.). PTSD United. Retrieved from http://www.ptsdunited.org/ptsd-statistics-2/.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Approximately 1.3 million Americans are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have shown marijuana can reduce inflammation and thus potentially help treat arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis by the Numbers: Facts, Statistics, and You. (2014, June 10). Healthline. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/rheumatoid-arthritis/facts-statistics-infographic.

Schizophrenia

About 3.2 million Americans have schizophrenia and 100,000 more will be diagnosed with the disease each year. Studies have shown that cannabidiol, found in cannabis, can serve as an antipsychotic treatment.

Schizophrenia Symptoms, Patterns and Statistics And Patterns. (2009, August 7). MentalHelp.net. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/schizophrenia-symptoms-patterns-and-statistics-and-patterns/.

Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia threatens the life of 90,000 to 100,000 Americans. Studies have shown marijuana lowers pain caused by the disorder and helps maintain proper blood flow.

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). (2015, September 14). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/data.html.

Spastic Quadriplegia

It is estimated that 764,000 children and adults in the United States are living with cerebral palsy and 25% of those cases are spastic quadriplegia. Studies have shown marijuana helps patients manage spasms, seizures and pain.

Prevalence of Derebral Palsy. (n.d.). CerebralPalsy.org. retrieved from http://cerebralpalsy.org/about-cerebral-palsy/prevalence-and-incidence/.

Spinal Cord Disease / Injuries

There are approximately 259,000 people in the United States living with spinal cord injuries and an undefined number of people with a spinal cord disease. Spinal cord injury studies have shown marijuana can limit neurological damage when administered shortly after the moment of trauma and later help manage pain and spasms. Spinal cord disease studies have shown marijuana improves pain, sleep, and spasms that arise.

Spinal Cord Injury Statistics. (2015). Brain and Spinal Cord.org. Retrieved from http://www.brainandspinalcord.org/spinal-cord-injury/statistics.htm.

Syringomyelia

About 40,000 people in the U.S. are affected by syringomyelia. Studies have shown marijuana can help reduce pain, sleeping problems and spasms associated with the condition.

Syringomyelia Fact Sheet. (2015, August 27). National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Retrieved from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/syringomyelia/detail_syringomyelia.htm.

Stroke

Every year, approximately 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke. About 600,000 of those strokes are first attacks and about 185,000 are recurrent attacks. Studies have sown marijuana can limit brain damage and improves recovery when administered shortly after a stroke.

Stroke Statistics. (n.d.). The Internet Stroke Center. Retrieved from http://www.strokecenter.org/patients/about-stroke/stroke-statistics/.

Tourette’s Syndrome

Tourette’s syndrome affects an estimated 200,000 Americans. Studies have shown marijuana can safely reduce the frequency of tics.

Tourette Syndrome Fact Sheet. (2014, April 16). National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Retrieved from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tourette/detail_tourette.htm.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

An estimated 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually. Studies have shown marijuana can limit brain damage and improves recovery when it’s administered shortly after the traumatic blow.

Get the Stats on Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/pdf/BlueBook_factsheet-a.pdf.

  • February 19, 2015
  • Jeffrey Stamberger