Medical marijuana is a term for derivatives of the Cannabis sativa plant that are used to ease symptoms caused by certain medical conditions. Medical marijuana is also known as medical cannabis.
Cannabis sativa contains many active compounds. The best known are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the primary ingredient in marijuana that makes people "high."
When is medical marijuana appropriate?
Studies report that medical cannabis has possible benefit for several conditions. State laws vary in which conditions qualify people for treatment with medical marijuana. If you're considering marijuana for medical use, check your state's regulations.
Depending on the state, you may qualify for treatment with medical marijuana if you meet certain requirements and have a qualifying condition, such as:
-Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
-Epilepsy and seizures
-Multiple sclerosis and muscle spasms
-Severe and chronic pain
-Severe nausea or vomiting caused by cancer treatment
Is medical marijuana safe?
Further study is needed to answer this question, but possible side effects of medical marijuana may include:
-Increased heart rate
-Impaired concentration and memory
-Slower reaction times
-Negative drug-to-drug interactions
-Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
-Potential for addiction
-Hallucinations or mental illness
-Some medical marijuana is formulated to provide symptom relief without the intoxicating, mood-altering effects associated with recreational use of marijuana.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of cannabis as a treatment for any medical condition. However, the FDA has approved the cannabinoids cannabidiol (Epidiolex) and dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros).Cannabidiol can be used for certain forms of severe epilepsy. Dronabinol can be used for nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy and for anorexia associated with weight loss in people with AIDS.
Added Benefit of CDC’s Updated Guidelines:
Cannabis’ Impact on the Opioid Crisis:
Opioid prescriptions in the United States have quadrupled since 1994. They’re commonly prescribed to treat chronic pain but carry a significant risk of addiction, abuse, overdose and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.” The United States is facing a preventable epidemic of prescription medication abuse. In response, the Food and Drug Administration recently announced a new requirement that opioids must carry black-box warnings so that doctors and patients are fully aware of the risks.
Cannabis has been proven to be highly effective for managing pain, so users require fewer opioid-based painkillers to ease their discomfort. Recent studies have also shown that chronic pain patients who use medical marijuana use significantly fewer prescription opioids, thereby reducing their risk of abuse or overdose. In addition, patients using cannabis to relieve pain experience fewer side effects from their prescription medications and report a significant increase in their quality of life.
Studies have also found that the number of opioid overdoses are significantly lower in states with medical marijuana legislation. A 2014 report published by JAMA Internal Medicine found that medical marijuana states have 25 percent fewer prescription painkiller deaths, meaning the availability of medical cannabis correlates to a decreased risk of opioid abuse.