Science has known for a long time that marijuana can effectively treat many health disorders. Symptoms of glaucoma, cancer, even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be relieved. But now comes evidence the drug is good for something else: relieving menstrual cramps.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary, HawaiiLawmakers in New Jersey are considering a bill that would add cramps to the list of conditions approved for treatment with medical cannabis. If it sounds like a stretch, it’s not. Cramps can be severe for many women, and marijuana could help them.

State Assemblyman Tim Eustace has introduced legislation that would add several female health problems, including cramps, to the list of approved conditions. The bill comes in the wake of actress Whoopi Goldberg’s announcement that she plans to sell non-intoxicating cannabis for just that use.

“We will expand the list to serve the population that needs it,” Eustace said. “We have a lot of people leaving the state for treatment, and hopefully this will change that.”

Whoopi Goldberg launching MMJ business

Goldberg, who revealed her plans in April, has joined with Maya Elisabeth, one of the most important names in the medical marijuana industry. They will build a new business dedicated to providing women with bud, edibles, and other products that contain cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating chemical in cannabis that is known to treat multiple medical conditions.

Eustace and his bill face a tough sell: New Jersey has especially tight rules on who can use medical marijuana. Even compared to New York, Minnesota, and other highly restrictive states, New Jersey makes it very difficult for patients to treat their health problems.

That’s largely because Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican and easily one of the least popular politicians in the United States, staunchly opposes any kind of legalization of cannabis, even for medical use. Just 6,500 patients have gained access to the drug since the program started in 2012.

New Jersey’s restrictive MMJ laws

Whoopi GoldbergThe list of disorders covered by the existing law tops out at 10. They include chronic pain, but only if it results from cancer or AIDS. Menstrual cramps are excluded.

“Every month women experience pain and discomfort associated with their periods,” Elisabeth said. “Cannabis is a wonderful remedy and, combined with other superfoods and medicinal herbs, can provide the type of relief many women need.”

Most studies on the matter suggest men are much more likely than women to use medical marijuana for any health issue, leading many politicians and policy makers to ignore female problems such as cramps. That has shut women out of an approach that could significantly improve the quality of their lives.

“They are afraid to admit it because they’re moms, and the risk is too high,” said Alix Hadley, who heads a collective of organic medicine providers. “They don’t want to lose their jobs or their kids.”

The real number of women who could benefit, and would like to, is probably much higher than is generally assumed, Hadley said. And that might explain why Goldberg and Elisabeth see a business opportunity – and a healthcare solution – in marijuana as a salve for painful, uncomfortable menstrual cramps.


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