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 educational pages.
 


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 disputed.  
 


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 IOP.
 
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 FDA.”
 


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.