Glenn Ellis: Beginner’s Guide to Medical Marijuana

Glenn Ellis: Beginner’s Guide to Medical Marijuana

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By Glenn Ellis Depending on whom you talk to, medical marijuana (also known as cannabis) is either a panacea for everything from cancer, to chronic pain, to epilepsy or it’s a dangerous and illegal drug with no place in medicine. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, making the Golden State the first in the union to allow for the medical use of marijuana. Since then, 28 more states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted similar laws. A total of 29 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs. More states are passing laws that allow people to use medical marijuana. So what does it treat, and who can and should use it? Pain is the main reason people ask for a prescription. The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine. However, scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Continued research may lead to more medications. Because the marijuana plant contains chemicals that may help treat a range of illnesses and symptoms, many people argue that it should be legal for medical purposes. In fact, a growing number of states have legalized marijuana for medical use. The FDA requires carefully conducted studies (clinical trials) in hundreds to thousands of human subjects to determine the benefits and risks of a possible medication. So far, researchers haven’t conducted enough large-scale clinical trials that show that the benefits of the marijuana plant (as opposed to its cannabinoid ingredients) outweigh […]

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