What a difference a few decades can make in conjunction with research and recommendations.
Daniel Fung of Watertown, CT explains that not too long ago, marijuana was seen as a nuisance at its best and a gateway drug at its worst. It was considered extremely dangerous to the health of its users and those around them.
And while marijuana is still officially labeled as a Schedule I substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, it has gained positive traction for its medical potential. While recreational marijuana is illegal in 11 American states, its use as a medicine is far more accepted, and currently legal in 36 states.
Doctors themselves have come around, too. In 2018, about 67% of doctors said they are in favor of using marijuana for its medicinal properties. The American public is even more in favor, with 85% approving the use of marijuana as a medicinal treatment.
But what exactly are the potential properties of marijuana, and does its use really make a difference when it comes to our health? Here’s everything to know about medical marijuana:
THC vs. CBD
Two primary ingredients in cannabis plants are at the center of the medical marijuana debate. CBD, short for cannabidiol, is now widely sold in various forms, such as oils. It has been shown to have some medicinal properties and does not account for the psychoactive effect of cannabis plants.
Short for tetrahydrocannabinol, THC has also been shown to have medicinal properties, but it is the main chemical that leads to marijuana’s psychoactive reactions.
While CBD is more commonly accepted, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also approved medications, such as nabilone and dronabinol, for medicinal use that are based on THC.
Both are available in pills through prescription and are primarily used to treat nausea stemming from chemotherapy treatments for cancer, as well as a way to foster an appetite for those experiencing AIDS-related wasting syndrome.
Numerous studies exploring the effectiveness of CBD- and THC-based medicines are ongoing, while others have been approved or are currently going through the clinical trial process.
The FDA has approved far more medications based on CBD, including drugs to treat such conditions as epilepsy and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which leads to severe epilepsy. Some other medicines that treat pain and other issues tied to conditions like multiple sclerosis use both CBD and THC.
Conditions that May Benefit from Medical Marijuana Use
In its various medical forms — edible, drinkable, smokable — marijuana with THC and CBD is a promising approach to treating a range of conditions and symptoms tied to certain diseases, as well as helping ease the side effects of other medical treatments.
Most commonly, medical marijuana is prescribed by healthcare providers to control or ease pain, including pain and nausea that is either chronic or severe.
There are usually certain medical conditions that need to be met in order to qualify for medical marijuana in the first place, and it depends on the state where one resides as well.
Common conditions that may lead to approved use of medical marijuana include Alzheimer’s, ALS, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, HIV, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, seizures, and muscle spasms that are frequent and severe.