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Medical Marijuana and Stuttering

What Is Stuttering?

Stuttering is a speech disorder that can manifest in several ways. Stuttering can be repetition of a single syllable. It can be prolonged pronunciation of a syllable or stuttering can involve repetition or prolonging of entire words. This makes speaking difficult for sufferers. It can also make it difficult to understand what a stuttering person is saying. Over time, it can sound and appear as if words are being forced out of individuals who stutter. It can make sufferers frustrated with speaking and it can become worse in tense situations. Stuttering often appears in childhood and can continue into adult years. 

There are a few known causes of stuttering. In some rare cases, it is caused by overwhelming emotions. In other cases, it is caused by brain injuries both traumatic and related to medical conditions. However, it appears that the most common stuttering, which occurs in early childhood and either disappears or persists, is genetic. Three genes were linked to stuttering in 2010. There is also some emotional involvement in stuttering, as individuals who stutter clearly have more difficulty in socially stressful situations. This is likely a result of the stutter however and not the cause. 

According to the overwhelming amount of testimonial available, medical marijuana can decrease instances of stuttering. There are very few, if any, medications for the treatment of stuttering where the risks outweigh the benefits. Medical marijuana has far fewer and less severe side effects than most other medications offered for the treatment of stuttering. Nonetheless, speech therapy remains the preferred treatment for stuttering, particularly in individuals who have not yet tried treatment. Medication is typically only indicated in individuals who do not respond to other non-medicinal treatments. Furthermore, as stuttering tends to effect children more than adults, drug treatment is far less likely in stuttering than in many other conditions.

Medical Marijuana and Stuttering

Stuttering and Medical Marijuana Literature, Evidence and Research 

Dr. Tod Hiro Mikuriya was one of the so-called "pot docs" of California. He was a psychiatrist and a strong advocate for the safe use of medical marijuana. He noted that the potential risks of using medical marijuana were so mild compared to other prescription medications that it should be easier for suffering patients to obtain the medication. Before his passing, he wrote a book about the numerous conditions he observed medical marijuana helping. Among these conditions was stuttering. As a cancer patient, Mikuriya was a medical marijuana user himself. Therefore, he is better equipped than most to comment on the safety of marijuana versus the risks for stuttering. 

A Showtime documentary called "In Pot We Trust" is a chronicle of the lives of four individuals who need to use medical marijuana for various conditions. One of the documentary's participants is a woman named Jacqueline who was born with cerebral palsy. This causes severe stuttering for Jacqueline. She uses medical marijuana to control her stuttering, which interferes with her communication abilities a great deal. Her stuttering presents as drawn out syllables and long intervals were she makes one sound.

In the documentary, Jacqueline clearly exhibits relief of her stuttering symptoms when under the influence of medical marijuana. While this is only one patient, she makes an excellent case for the efficacy of medical marijuana to treat stuttering. Her stuttering is caused by an irreversible and established medical condition. If it were not controlling the cause in some way, she would not exhibit fewer symptoms. This makes it unlikely that her relief is a placebo effect. Her stuttering is obvious to observers, as is the difference in her stuttering when she takes her medicine. This is by no means a medical study. However, patient histories and experiences are very helpful in evaluating the efficacy of any drug, including medical marijuana.

Unfortunately, there is no clinical research published on the topic of stuttering and medical marijuana. There are numerous doctors who support its use for patients who stutter and several states label it a condition that can warrant legal marijuana treatment. Countless sufferers have testimony of their own to share from both sides of the relief spectrum -- some experiencing total relief, others experiencing none. More research is necessary for any hope of FDA approval specifically for stuttering.

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