Most of us know marijuana as a widely used recreational drug. It has a long and storied history that has been at the center of our cultural conversation for decades. Even with its widespread legalization for recreational purposes, the focus has shifted to medical marijuana, which has had a long and difficult road to get to where it is today. Although medical marijuana can ease symptoms of a wide variety of illnesses and conditions, it is the victim of misinformation and a point of contention for many people.
Despite all of that, there are many things to know about medical marijuana that you might not be familiar with. Here are some eye-opening facts:
1. Medical Marijuana Does Not Cause the “High”
The marijuana plant contains more than 100 active components, known as cannabinoids. The two main cannabinoids that are of medical interest are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the chemical that causes the “high” commonly associated with marijuana consumption. CBD isn’t popular for recreational use because it causes very little if any alteration in consciousness. CBD has recently raised interest due to its potential to relieve insomnia, control epileptic seizures, reduce pain and inflammation, control anxiety, relax muscles, and possibly treat mental illness and addictions. More research is being conducted to explore the possible uses of cannabinoids for medical treatment.
2. There are 2 Primary Strains of Medical Marijuana
Therapeutic Cannabis is available in 2 main strains: Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. These strains contain different blends of cannabinoids and produce different effects on the body. This means that the strains produce their medical effects based on their concentration of various active ingredients, particularly the cannabinoids.
Cannabis sativa strains tend to produce an uplifting effect, which impacts mood and emotions. These strains are effective in combating depression, improving focus, increasing energy levels, and works well as an appetite stimulant.
Cannabis indica tends to produce a physical and relaxing effect that can be felt throughout the body. Indica strains are commonly used for reducing pain, increasing relaxation and reducing anxiety, relieving muscle tension, and helping patients rest.
Hybrid strains have been developed to offer a balance between the benefits of both types.
3. There Are Several Different Methods of Taking Medical Marijuana
Most people are familiar with inhalation, including smoking and vaporization, as the main methods of taking marijuana. However, there are many different forms of medical marijuana, which is good news for individuals who are hesitant to embrace this form of treatment because of concerns related to smoking. At medical marijuana dispensaries, you can find tinctures, oils, pills, dried buds, fancy chocolate truffles, sodas, cinnamon-scented cookies, mouth sprays, lotions, balms, and skin patches all laced with the active ingredients in cannabis. What you can take differs by state and the law prohibits in-store use and free samples.
4. Medical Marijuana is Still Illegal Under Federal Law
As of this writing, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana in some form, and more are considering doing the same. Legalization is growing due to the renewed interest in the use of marijuana as medicine, and the fact that studies show that its benefits outweigh the risk, and marijuana can be used as an alternative to several more harmful medications.
However, the use of therapeutic cannabis is still illegal under federal law. Legal and compliant businesses and patients dealing with medical marijuana are offered protection from federal prosecution through the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. This statute prevents the U.S. Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana programs.
5. The FDA Has Approved One Cannabis-Derived Drug
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved or recognized the use of the marijuana plant as medicine, scientific studies of cannabinoids have led to the approval of one cannabis-derived and three cannabis-related drugs. Epidiolex is an oral, CBD-based drug for the treatment of difficult-to-control seizures associated with two severe forms of childhood epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
The agency has also approved Syndros and Marinol (synthetic forms of marijuana) for the treatment of anorexia caused by weight loss in AIDS patients. The other FDA-approved drug, Cesamet can be prescribed for the treatment of nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy.
While there’s still a lot to learn about medical marijuana and what it can do, more people are already taking advantage of marijuana-based products to help them manage their health and live their best lives.