Medical Marijuana FAQ's
Common Questions, Proper Answers... You Need To Know!
Although there are many, many questions when it comes to
Medical Marijuana, These are some of the most common ones. All other questions
not answered here can be found throughout the site within all of the
What is Medical Marijuana?
The terms marijuana and cannabis refer to all parts of the
plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin
extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt,
derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.
The term “medical marijuana” (or medical cannabis) refers to
the use of the unprocessed plant or its basic extracts to treat a disease or
symptom. However, the use of the term “medical marijuana” is controversial
since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or
approved the marijuana plant as medicine, and its efficacy for medicinal use is
Is Medical Marijuana a Medicine?
No. A medication is a substance used in treating specific
diseases or relieving pain. The term medical marijuana refers to treating a
disease or symptom with the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its extracts.
Neither the unprocessed plant or its extracts is medication, though each may
contain substances (cannabinoids) that do have medicinal value.
What Compounds in Marijuana have Medicinal use or value?
The compounds that may have medicinal uses are cannabinoids,
a class of chemical compounds that acts on cannabinoid receptors in cells that
represses neurotransmitter release in the brain. The marijuana plant contains
more than 100 cannabinoids. Currently, the two main cannabinoids from the
marijuana plant that are of medical interest are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol
(THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, THC
increases appetite and reduces nausea and may also decrease pain, inflammation
(swelling and redness), and muscle control problems. CBD is a cannabinoid that
does not affect the mind or behavior. It may be useful in reducing pain and
inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures, and possibly even treating mental
illness and addictions.
Does Medical Marijuana Treat Glaucoma?
Marijuana is not recommended as a treatment for glaucoma,
according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Glaucoma is an eye
condition in which the optic nerve becomes progressively damaged. Over a period
of time the condition can lead to reduced peripheral vision and even to
blindness. A primary cause of optic nerve damage in glaucoma is
higher-than-normal pressure within the eye, known as intraocular pressure or
Currently, the only way to control glaucoma and prevent
vision loss, says the AAO, is to lower IOP levels. Some research has shown that
ingesting marijuana does lower IOP for a short period of time—about three or
four hours. Because glaucoma needs to be treated 24 hours a day, notes the AAO,
a patient with glaucoma would “need to smoke marijuana six to eight times a day
around the clock to receive the benefit of a consistently lowered IOP.”
However, marijuana not only lowers IOP, but also lowers blood pressure throughout
the body—including to the optic nerve, effectively canceling out the benefit of
a lowered IOP.
Can A Doctor Prescribe Medical Marijuana?
Under federal law, marijuana has no currently accepted
medical use and has a high potential for abuse. For these reasons, doctors
cannot prescribe marijuana. In a state that allows the use of marijuana to
treat medical conditions, however, a doctor may be able to certify its use.
Your state may require you to apply for a state-issued identification card to
use medical marijuana.
Do Medical Association Support Medical Marijuana?
The general consensus is that medical associations do not
support the use of the cannabis plant as medicine. The American Medical
Association (AMA) states that they do not endorse “state-based medical cannabis
programs, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the
therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug
product.” The American Psychiatric Association (APA) states that, “There is no
current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for the
treatment of any psychiatric disorder. In contrast, current evidence supports,
at minimum, a strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric
disorders.” The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) says, “Given the
uncertain evidence to support the safety and efficacy of cannabis and
cannabinoid-products in the treatment of medical conditions, ASAM and a number
of other professional medical societies have advised that all cannabis-based
medicinal products, like all other medicinal products, should be approved by
What FDA Approved Drugs Contain Cannabinoids?
The FDA has approved two drugs, dronabinol and nabilone,
which contain THC. These drugs treat nausea caused by chemotherapy and increase
appetite in patients with extreme weight loss caused by AIDS.
The United Kingdom, Canada, and several European countries,
notes the National Institute on Drug Abuse, have approved nabiximols
(Sativex®), a mouth spray containing THC and CBD. It treats muscle control
problems caused by multiple sclerosis (MS). (Clinical trials are being
conducted for use in treating cancer pain.) And although it has not yet
undergone clinical trials, scientists have recently created Epidiolex, a
CBD-based liquid drug to treat certain forms of childhood epilepsy.