Medical Marijuana: A Brief Overview

In the United States, interest in medical marijuana and its usage and acceptability has changed dramatically over the last decade. Although still federally illegal, medical marijuana is now legal in 33 states and Washington D.C. and there is legislation pending in several other states as well. Although medical marijuana is now extremely common, many people still have questions or concerns about using this form of medication. Below is a short overview of what medical marijuana is and how it may help with a wide variety of medical conditions. 

Ancient and Modern Use

Medical marijuana is cannabis that is consumed for its medical properties. Cannabis has been used as medicine for thousands of years. There are many records of ancient civilizations using cannabis for medical purposes. The Ancient Chinese used cannabis for a wide range of medical issues and cannabis is still considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. Archeologists have discovered descriptions of medical marijuana in Ancient Egypt from 2000 – 1300 BC, and medical cannabis was also used by the Ancient Greeks and in Ancient India. 

Cannabis or marijuana was used as medicine in the Western world and in the United States until the early 1900s. In 1937, there were at least 2,000 different types of cannabis medicines in the US! These medical marijuana medicines were extremely popular and used to treat a wide variety of illnesses. However, that same year the government passed the Marihuana Tax Act which effectively prohibited marijuana on a federal level and significantly reduced the amount of marijuana that was available for medical reasons. All forms of cannabis were then classified as an illegal Schedule 1 drug with the Controlled Substance Act of 1970.

Over the past 50 years, supporters, patients, doctors, and scientists have advocated for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and have fought to make it a legal form of medicine once again. California was the first state to approve medicinal marijuana in 1996 and now medical marijuana is legal in 33 states and the district of Washington D.C. Many experts predict that medical marjiuana will soon become federally legal as well. Studies show that approximately 85% of Americans support legalizing marijuana and that millions of Americans report using medical marijuana.

What is Medical Marijuana Used For?

So what exactly is medical marijuana and how does it help? The cannabis plant has two main varieties, cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. These two varieties come in a wide range of various strains, but all strains and varieties of cannabis have over 100 chemical components called cannabinoids. The most commonly known cannabinoids are CBD, CBG, and THC – the psychoactive cannabinoid that can produce the “high” associated with marjiuana. Researchers have found that when consumed, the CBD, THC and other cannabinoids work together with our endocannabinoid system to relieve or alleviate the symptoms of physical or mental illnesses or the side effects of other treatments for these symptoms. Research has found that the cannabinoids might reduce inflammation and pain, control nausea, slow or kill tumor growth, and reduce anxiety. 

Due to the fact that marijuana is still federally illegal, there has been limited research done with medical marijuana. The FDA currently has only approved medical marijuana as a way to treat two forms of epilepsy. Researchers must also obtain special licenses to study medical marijuana because it is still currently listed as a Schedule 1 drug. Despite the lack of federal research, many doctors and patients have found that medical cannabis can help with a wide variety of ailments. Some of the medical issues that might be treated with medical marijuana include epilepsy, Alzheimers, Chron’s Disease, cancer, glaucoma, anxiety, nausea, PTSD, appetite loss, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, autism, sleep issues, and chronic pain. 

According to the Harvard Medical School, the most common use for medical marijuana in the United States is for controlling chronic pain. Many people have found that medical marijuana is far safer than opioids since it is impossible to overdose and is far less addictive. Medical marijuana has also shown to be effectively used in place of Advil or Aleve which can cause ulcers or kidney problems and has been highly beneficial for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and nerve pain. Patients have found that medical marijuana has helped reduce the pain that comes with fibromyalgia and endometriosis, can be used to treat glaucoma and Crohn’s Disease, and the tremors associated with Parkinson’s. 

Many veterans and other people have found that medical marijuana is particularly helpful in relieving the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These veterans often report a significant improvement in their symptoms and many activists, therapists, and legislators are calling for the government to loosen its restrictions on medical marijuana and to conduct research to see if it can continue to help veterans and others who suffer from PTSD.

How to Medicate

It is important for many patients to find the correct dosage and method of consumption to help them treat their symptoms. Patients can use a variety of consumption methods including vaping, smoking, topical creams, or oils, or by ingesting oils or edibles. Patients who smoke or vape their medicine tend to experience relief from their symptoms quicker, while those who consume edibles may have to wait 30 minutes – 2 hours before their symptoms are alleviated. It is also important for patients to find the correct dosage of THC and CBD for their bodies. Many patients have found that consuming medicine with a higher percentage of CBD and a lower percentage of THC to be the most effective for medical purposes.

In addition, it is important for patients to know that different strains of medical marijuana have different effects. Medical marijuana is generally separated into three categories: indica, sativa, and hybrid. Indica tends to have a more relaxing effect on the user, while sativa is more energizing, and hybrids are a combination of the two. Medical marijuana is often further broken down into different strains or breeds of cannabis which also have specific effects on the user. Many people seek the advice of doctors, other patients, cannabis experts, or websites to determine which strain may have the desired effect for their personal and medical use. 

Important To Know

It is important to know that not all medical cannabis is equal. There is a large variety of seeds, growing methods, processing methods, and other factors that can influence the final product. Because medical marijuana is being consumed by patients for medicinal purposes it is incredibly important to buy quality, third-party tested, medical grade cannabis from a trusted grower, processor, and dispensary. Big Dream Cannabis Co. in Oklahoma is known for growing and processing elite cannabis products. They follow the highest standards for growing and processing, and produce top quality medical grade cannabis including shatter, sugar wax, crumble, and will soon be selling top shelf dried flower and pre-rolls to local dispensaries. 

It is also vital for patients to know the laws concerning medical marijuana in their state. Medical marijuana is regulated by the states and each state has different qualifications for obtaining a medical marijuana card and for the amount of medication that a patient can have on them. Users must also be aware of federal laws prohibiting the transport of medical marjiuana across state lines. Many states have temporary cards that users can apply for during vacation in order to maintain their medical regiment. 

Conclusion

Medical marijuana’s popularity and acceptance have grown rapidly over the last 15 years. Many experts believe that medical, and even adult use marijuana, will become federally legal within this new decade. While opinions still vary, many researchers are eagerly hoping for the government to relax the marjuana laws in order to conduct further medical research on the effects of medical cannabis on various diseases. Millions of patients in the United States have found relief for a wide variety of medical ailments and symptoms through the use of medical marijuana and have taken their health and wellness into their own hands by medicating with one of nature’s most misunderstood but useful plants! 

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