Although most people think of marijuana solely as a recreational drug, it does have other uses, namely for medicinal purposes in the treatment of nausea, epilepsy, and various pain. But because marijuana is still classed as a controlled substance under U.S. federal law, you would be right to wonder if it is okay to use it for medicinal purposes.
If, for example, you are attending a medical cannabis pain clinic such as that at KindlyMD, you might be confused as to whether it is legal for you to use marijuana for the treatment of your pain. According to the Mayo Clinic, despite many states allowing marijuana to be used for medical reasons, it is still illegal to possess the drug under federal law. So, although unlikely, you could be arrested and charged if found in possession of marijuana (even if it is legal in the state where you live). This is because federal law supersedes state law.
Some will argue that not enough research has been conducted into the effectiveness and safety of using marijuana for medicinal purposes. Then there are those who say that the benefits are obvious. Although use of the whole cannabis plant or any derivatives are prohibited under federal law, CBD that is extracted from the hemp plant with less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (the psychoactive substance in marijuana) is legal.
Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved some THC-based medications for the treatment of nausea in cancer patients. However, the FDA has only approved medical cannabis for treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome (two severe and rare forms of epilepsy). It is no wonder that so many people get confused about whether using medical marijuana is okay.
What Conditions Can be Helped with Medical Marijuana?
Those in favor of medical marijuana say that it may be useful in the treatment of a variety of conditions, including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- multiple sclerosis
- appetite loss
- muscle spasms.
How is Medical Marijuana Taken?
There are a number of ways to take medical marijuana. Some people take it in the same way that a recreational user would and mix it with tobacco before smoking it. Others will put it in food or drink items such as brownies or tea and ingest it this way. It can also be inhaled through a vaporizer, applied to skin in the form of a cream or lotion, or placed under the tongue. Doctors will usually recommend that it not be smoked because of the side effects associated with smoking tobacco. Inhalation may also increase the risk of lung problems such as bronchitis.
There is also some dispute about whether medical marijuana is a gateway drug that increases the likelihood of individuals moving on to other drugs.
Which States Have Legalized Medical Marijuana?
Thirty-seven states as well as the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. However, it is still prohibited in the following states:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Medical marijuana may be legal in the majority of states, but it is still largely prohibited for any use under federal law. So, while it may be legal for use in your own particular state, you could be arrested and charged for possession under federal law. This is highly unlikely though, especially if you have a certified letter of consent from a doctor. You must also have a condition that is included on the medical marijuana list in your state.