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Medical Marijuana 101

by Stephen Silva

If you're on any of the social media platforms, you have likely come across one of the videos showing someone, usually a child, who suffers from endless seizures made better by medical marijuana. But what are the facts? Many people who were raised to "just say no" are understandably skeptical, especially as marijuana remains illegal in the eyes of the federal government. Can marijuana really be used medicinally? Here's what you need to know.

What Is Medical Marijuana?

When medical literature refers to medical marijuana, they are talking about the entire marijuana plant. The main chemical compounds in the marijuana plant are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the compound that causes the euphoric feeling, commonly referred to as "getting high." The CBD component does not cause any mind-altering affects.

What Conditions Is Medical Marijuana Used To Treat?

Medical research scientists are discovering promising uses for cannabidiol, including seizure management, as well as mental illness such as schizophrenia, anxiety and depression, pain management, glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness, and helping to fight some types of cancer. It has also been found useful in dealing with the common side effects of nausea and loss of appetite in patients undergoing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. There is also growing evidence in the medical community that marijuana may be useful in controlling diabetes and improving cardiovascular health.

Where Is Medical Marijuana Legal?

According to NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, every state but Texas has laws on the books allowing medical marijuana to be used to some degree. However, not every state has an operational program in effect yet. Additionally, many states have only legalized the use of the CBD (cannabidiol) component, not the who plant itself. As more and more research is done, many expect the laws currently on the books that criminalize marijuana to be repealed, but the legislation process takes time.

Are There Any Negative Side Effects With Medical Marijuana?

Like any drug, whether it is natural in origin or produced in a laboratory setting, less-than-positive side effects are reported by some users. Oftentimes, these side effects are minor in comparison to the condition they are meant to treat. Common side effects of medical marijuana include fatigue, sleepiness, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Many also reported these same symptoms eventually went away once the body became accustomed to the drug. Proponents also argue that someone who finds relief from severe epilepsy by using medical marijuana is happy to deal with lethargy and diarrhea.