Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has been used around the globe as a medical treatment for thousands of years. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet labeled marijuana as neither a safe nor effective treatment for any health ailment. Some states have chosen to legalize the use of marijuana for several health purposes.
The legal restrictions placed on the use of marijuana throughout the United States have made scientific research difficult. One must also consider the fact that different strains of the plant fluctuate largely in their concentration levels of THC, the plant’s psychoactive chemicals. The federal government has recently loosened its reins on the restrictions and has begun to supply researchers with more strains of the plant to study.
The personal opinions on the legalization of marijuana are abundant and the political implications large. This article focuses solely on the use of the marijuana plant for health-related reasons, as well as the research behind it.
According to the National Center For Complementary and Integrative Health, NIH, the FDA has approved two prescription marijuana-based medications for use within the United States. Both approved drugs, Dronabinol and Nabilone, “may be helpful in treating the symptoms associated with cancer or for the side effects of cancer therapies.” Studies within the U.S. have begun on a throat spray known as Nabiximols, which is already being used by patients in Canada and the United Kingdom.
The marijuana that is sold legally for medical uses is of the same plant that is used for leisure. In some instances, medical marijuana is grown to have less of the chemical known as THC.
The chemical compound THC offers the notorious euphoric effects that recreational users are looking for, but it is also useful in treating health-related issues. There is some research available, although limited, suggesting the compound CBD is helpful in treating certain medical issues without causing a euphoric high.
According to WebMD, the use of medical marijuana may help to ease seizures, both in number and severity, for individuals who suffer from epilepsy. It may also alleviate multiple sclerosis symptoms such as spasms, frequent urination, pain, and stiffness in the muscles and joints.
Although there is not a lot of supporting research at this time, scientists believe that medical marijuana may help ease pain, nausea, and loss of appetite in people who have cancer and HIV. The FDA approved marijuana medication for HIV claims to help control excessive weight gain as well.
Other conditions that have been treated through the use of marijuana include ALS, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, terminal illness, and Tourette syndrome.
There are certain forms of medical marijuana that have shown some promise for children who suffer from epilepsy, reports Leafly. One such drug, called “Charlotte’s Web,” is derived from a special strain of plant bred to have a very low level of THC.
Four years of research and breeding produced a strain of marijuana that is used to make an oil known as “Haleigh’s Hope.” This oil was specifically made to contain a CBD-THC ratio of 24:1.
“Haleigh’s Hope is a high-CBD strain from Colorado named after a 4-year-old with cerebral palsy and epilepsy.”
In 1970, the United States Congress labeled marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance because it was considered to have no accepted medical uses. Since that time, 30 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some form.