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What is Medical Marijuana?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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Medical marijuana is cannabis that is used as part of an ongoing medical treatment. The concept of marijuana for medical use is a hotly debated topic in many parts of the world. Some believe that the limited use of marijuana as a means of alleviating pain, such as in the case of a terminal cancer patient, is a proper use of the drug. Others tend to believe that the plant should not be used in any form, and promote completely outlawing any use of marijuana.

Among those that promote the idea of medical marijuana, it is often noted that the marijuana plant does not have to be smoked in order to realize the benefits. Various parts of the plant can be used to create extracts that can be consumed with food, or added to beverages. It is also possible to ingest the plant by using capsules that are prepared under strict regulations by a government recognized pharmaceutical company. These options, along with the rigid regulatory processes that often are present in countries that recognize the use of medical marijuana, are said to limit the chance for abuse while providing relief to the sick.

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Advocates of medical marijuana also point to the fact that the use of medical cannabis has fewer side effects than some other types of drugs used to manage pain. There is also some controversy about the level of addiction that marijuana can trigger, especially in comparison with other types of pain medication. Those who support marijuana laws that would make it legal for physicians to prescribe cannabis as a pain killer usually refer to research that indicates marijuana is less likely to cause addiction, while still offering an excellent means of easing pain and suffering.

Detractors of the use of medical marijuana are likely to point out that even with the most stringent of regulation, there is little chance that the drug would be limited to the medical uses of marijuana alone. They often point to the widespread abuse of prescription medications that already takes place today. In addition, detractors sometimes refute the veracity of the research that indicates marijuana is less addictive and provides more relief than other options.

Depending on which studies are cited, a great many claims are made for the efficacy of medical marijuana. Some research indicates that the drug can be effective for relieving arthritis pain, treating depression and anxiety, and correcting various types of stress disorders. Women are said to benefit from the use of this drug to help ease the discomfort of morning sickness, as well as to minimize pain during the menstrual cycle. Because some of these studies are not conducted under circumstances that are considered ideal for definitively proving these claims, a number of medical professionals do not accept the findings on the benefits of marijuana as being reliable.

At present, there are several countries around the world where medical marijuana is prescribed for pain and a limited number of medical problems, such as nausea, nervous disorders, and even glaucoma. Germany, the Netherlands, and Canada are examples of nations where marijuana for medical use is allowed. There are also a few areas of the United States where medical marijuana has been used in the past, although the controversy continues to rage across the nation about even this limited usage.

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