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Medical Marijuana: The Nitty-Gritty

The use of medicinal marijuana for treating various physical and psychological conditions has always been a controversial topic among healthcare professionals. While some argue that marijuana-based treatments are great alternatives to ‘traditional’ therapies, others believe more research is needed before medical professionals can recognize marijuana as a viable treatment option.

The strict regulations regarding marijuana use, both in clinical and non-clinical settings, has made it difficult for researchers to conduct relevant studies in this emerging field.

Fortunately, with the legalization of marijuana use in many U.S. states, many researchers and healthcare professionals have begun to explore the potentially beneficial effects of this plant.

Although there’s still plenty of controversy around this subject, things are beginning to take shape. Let’s take a closer look at what we do (and don’t) know about medicinal marijuana.

Medical Marijuana: What is it?

The term “medical marijuana” refers to the use of cannabis, or its extracts, in the treatment of various medical and psychological diseases and conditions.

Because the marijuana plant contains different compounds (cannabinoids) that can help treat a whole range of symptoms and illnesses, many believe it should be legal for medicinal purposes.

But what exactly are the main chemical compounds of marijuana?


Two of the main cannabinoids found in marijuana are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

THC represents the psychoactive compound of marijuana. In other words, it’s the chemical that gets you “high”. It’s also the reason why the recreational use of marijuana is banned by law in many states.

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that can be found in both marijuana and agricultural hemp. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t get you high. It’s also the basis for all sorts of products ranging from balms and oils to sweets and other edibles.

Marijuana as Medicine

Since many people claim that marijuana has helped them to manage various conditions, experts have begun to study its effects intensely. However, recent findings indicate that there’s still much to be learned about this plant.

What Is It Used For?

For centuries, people have been using marijuana to treat medical and psychological conditions. But what do scientists have to say?

One study indicates that cannabis may be a viable treatment option for conditions such as pain, insomnia and even anxiety. Furthermore, some researchers believe there’s strong evidence supporting the use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.

But since many of the supposed health benefits of marijuana are not backed by scientific evidence, specialists are somewhat reluctant to use this treatment option. In fact, one study revealed that only 36% of physicians believe that prescribed marijuana should be legal.

How Does It Help?

To understand why medical marijuana can be useful for various conditions, we need to look at one crucial aspect of the human body: the endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system (named after the plant that led to its discovery) is perhaps one of the most important systems involved in establishing and maintaining health and well-being. Endocannabinoid receptors can be found in many places throughout the entire body. From the brain, the nervous system and other organs to immune cells, glands and connective tissues.

The primary purpose of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain homeostasis and keep a stable internal environment. Despite various fluctuations that may occur in the external environment.

Medical Marijuana

Risks and Benefits of Medical Marijuana

As mentioned earlier, studies indicate that medical marijuana products may be useful in treating various conditions ranging from chronic pain to insomnia to anxiety and depression.

If you were to ask a legal weed advocate, he or she will probably give you a much bigger list of conditions that can be cured by marijuana use. In fact, there are numerous groups and communities made up of weed enthusiasts who describe cannabis as a miracle cure.

On the other hand; experts believe that, just like in the case of any other substances we put into our bodies, there are some side effects that we should be mindful of. For example, the THC in marijuana can cause disorientation, dizziness, dry mouth, sedation and confusion. In other words, you should avoid using it while at work or if you simply wish to be productive in any way.

Furthermore, patients with heart disease may develop all sorts of complications as marijuana causes an increase in heart rate. Breathing problems and addiction issues, that result from marijuana use, may also affect your personal and professional life.

Medical Marijuana Laws

Throughout the years, marijuana and cannabis-based products have gained massive popularity. Not just for recreational purposes but also for their potentially curative effects.

As a result, many U.S. states have passed several medical marijuana laws (or MML’s). Hoping to reduce drug-related crimes and create an environment where people can use this product responsibly. However; according to a recent study, states that adopted MML’s haven’t witnessed a significant change concerning marijuana use among adolescents.

In the end, the purpose of MML’s is to regulate the distribution and consumption of marijuana and cannabis-based products; to ensure “safe use” for people who need it for medical purposes.

States Where Marijuana is Legal for Medicinal Purposes

States with legal recreational marijuana:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Oregon
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Washington

States with legal medical marijuana:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Is Medical Marijuana FDA Approved?

Although the effects of marijuana have been studied intensely over the last two decades; when it comes to officially recognizing cannabis as a treatment option for medical conditions, the FDA will always have the final say.

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s website, the FDA has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication.

Where Can I Find Medical Marijuana Near Me?

The easiest way to find medical marijuana is online. Most brands, shops, and dispensaries have a robust online presence which makes it easier to find one in your area. However, if you live in a state where only medical marijuana is legal; you will need a prescription to purchase marijuana or other cannabis-based products.

If we look at how the cannabis market has evolved over the years; it’s clear that medical marijuana, regardless of the effects it may or may not have, is here to stay.


  1. C. W. Webb and S. M. Webb, “Therapeutic Benefits of Cannabis: A Patient Survey,” Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health, vol. 73, no. 4, pp. 109-111, 2014.
  2. K. P. Hill, “Medical Marijuana for Treatment of Chronic Pain and Other Medical and Psychiatric Problems,” JAMA Network, vol. 313, no. 24, pp. 2474-2483, 2015.
  3. A. Charuvastra, P. D. Friedmann and M. D. Stein, “Physician Attitudes Regarding the Prescription of Medical Marijuana,” Journal of Addictive Diseases, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 87-93, 2005.
  4. A. E. Thompson, “Medical Marijuana,” JAMA Network, vol. 313, no. 24, 2015.
  5. S. D. Lyenne-Landsman, M. D. Livingston and A. C. Wagenaar, “Effects of State Medical Marijuana Laws on Adolescent Marijuana Use,” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 103, no. 8, pp. 1500-1506, 2013.
About The Author Alexander Draghici

I'm a licensed Clinical Psychologist, CBT practitioner and co-founder at psycheguide.com. My work focuses mainly on strategies designed to help people manage and prevent two of the most common mental issues – anxiety and depression. When I’m not busy crafting content or working one-on-one with my clients, I enjoy going to the gym, practicing on my guitar, or playing airsoft. I've also been struggling with anxiety for most of my teenage years, but now I can proudly say that I've finally managed to regain control of my life.