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What Is Medical Marijuana?

Find out the healing effects of medical marijuana and which health conditions can benefit from its use.

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Laws allowing for the use of medical marijuana have been instituted in 23 states and Washington, DC – marking a major change in the general attitude in the U.S. toward its use. There is still a great deal of controversy over the question of using marijuana for medical purposes, and even more debate over the legalization of marijuana for non-medical, or recreational, purposes.

Medical Marijuana Reduces Pain and Much More

Medical marijuana is used for treatment of the following health conditions:

  • glaucoma
  • seizure disorders (epilepsy)
  • spinal cord injuries
  • cancer
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Huntington’s disease

It has been shown to be useful in reducing nausea and vomiting brought on by chemotherapy, increasing the appetite in people with HIV or AIDS infections, reducing chronic pain and muscle spasms in a variety of diseases, and is considered safer than opioids in reducing pain for those receiving palliative care.

Adverse Reactions

Adverse reactions include tiredness, dizziness and cardiovascular symptoms.

Main Ingredients of Medical Marijuana

There are over 400 chemicals in marijuana, 61 of with are unique cannabinoids. The two main ingredients that prove effective for medical purposes are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), which act as the primary psychoactive and pain-reducing ingredients.

Forms of Medical Marijuana

There are a variety of forms that can be used when using marijuana for medical purposes:

  • pills
  • extract
  • creams
  • sprays
  • smoked
  • vaporization

Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa

Almost all marijuana comes from two primary strains: Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa. Sativa strains bring about improved mood, a euphoric high and reduced stress; whereas the Indica strains are more useful for relaxing muscles, creating an analgesic affect, as well as for improved sleep. Hybrids and cross-bred strains produce varied results, incorporating the effects of these two strains to differing levels.

State Laws and Requirements Surrounding Marijuana Use

State laws differ widely at the present, but generally there are restrictions for marijuana use involving conditions and diseases that it may be prescribed for as well as regulations of the production process of medical grade marijuana. In New York, for example, there are requirements that companies have at least one staff member with a minimum of one year’s experience in agriculture practices, a quality assurance officer with training in quality control procedures, and pharmacists who dispense medical marijuana must attend a 4-hour continuing education course. Requirements vary from state to state on the growing and production process, medical conditions for which marijuana is allowed, and the legal distribution processes.

The only real difference between medical marijuana and non-medical marijuana is in the quality control processes.

Over time, we may see more and more states institute a medical marijuana program that allows the use of this plant for treatment of serious conditions. We may even see the continued growth of marijuana being permitted for recreational purposes, but for now most states in the U.S. have strict regulations for marijuana use – if it is allowed at all.

THC-Free CBD Oil

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, the farm bill, was passed by Congress and signed by the President, stating that hemp-derived products, like CBD, are not classified as a drug and are legal to sell in all 50 states. THC-free, isolated CBD options (without any of the psychoactive ingredients you’ll find in cannabis thus, no issues with drug-tests) extracted from industrial hemp have been shown to be beneficial for various uses such as pain reduction, mood and anxiety improvement, increased relaxation and better sleep. This form of CBD oil is ideal for people seeking products without any trace amounts of THC.

Editor’s Note: Learn why juicing marijuana is a blessing to liver health.

Mack, A., Joy, J. (2000). Marijuana as medicine? The science beyond the controversy. Washington, DC:  National Academies Press. Retrieved on 8/24/15 from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=9586.

New York State. (2015). New York State Medical Marijuana Program. Retrieved on 8/24/15 from https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/faq.htm.

ProCon.org. (2015). What are the differences between Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa, and how do they vary in their potential medical utility? Retrieved on 8/24/15 from http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000638.

ProCon.org. (2008, June 17). What Are Physicians’ Views on Medical Marijuana? Retrieved on 8/24/15 from http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000086.

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