Accepted Medical Use in the United
The acceptance of cannabis's medical use by eight states since
1996 and the experiences of patients, doctors, and state officials
in these states establish marijuana's accepted medical use
in the United States. More...
Cannabis's accepted medical use in the United States is increasingly
recognized by health care professionals and the medical community,
including the Institute of Medicine. Several medical organizations
support legal access to cannabis for medicinal purposes. A
new medical journal released in 2001 focuses on the medicinal
use of cannabis and cannabinoids. National clinical conferences
on the medicinal use of cannabis have been held in the United
States in 2000 and 2002 and are scheduled to continue on a
bi-annual basis.. Most importantly, data on the number of
physicians currently recommending therapeutic marijuana use
to their patients demonstrate its acceptance by the medical
community in the United States. More...
Patients' experience and their confirmation by early
Following state laws that allow for the medical use of cannabis,
an increasing number of patients have collected experience
with cannabis. Many reported benefits from its use. Some of
this experience has been confirmed in reports and clinical
investigations or stimulated clinical research that confirmed
these patients' experience on other patients suffering from
the same disease. More...
Reviews of earlier clinical studies
Several scientific publications have reviewed evidence from
research on the medicinal uses of cannabis indicating that
cannabis in fact may offer benefits in the treatment of certain
The scientific understanding of the endogenous cannabinoid
system consisting of specific cannabinoid receptors and their
endogenous ligands (endocannabinoids) has considerably increased
since 1995. It largely supports and helps explain many of
the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and cannabinoids in humans.
Results from clinical research demonstrate that both dronabinol
and whole plant cannabis can offer a safe and effective treatment
for the following illnesses: muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis,
Tourette syndrome, chronic pain, nausea and vomiting in HIV/AIDS
and cancer chemotherapy, loss of appetite from cancer, hyperactivity
of the bladder in patients with multiple sclerosis and spinal
cord injury, and dyskinesia caused by levodopa in Parkinson's
Route of administration.
Progress has been made in recent years in reducing the disadvantages
of certain routes of cannabis administration, notably the
slow onset of action with oral use and harm associated with
the inhalation of combustion products when smoking cannabis.
The pharmaceutical industry is showing not only increasing
interest in synthetic modulators of the endogenous cannabinoid
system, but also industry members are funding several clinical
studies with cannabis whole plant extracts in Europe and Canada
with the intention to develop approved cannabis based medicines.
This indicates that therapeutic exploitation of natural cannabis
will be economically sound. However the present Schedule I
classification of cannabis and THC is an impediment to the
pharmaceutical development of cannabinoid drugs becaused of
the costly restrictions it places on research. More...
Safety for Use
Acute side effects
It is now generally accepted that "...except for the
harms associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana
use are within the range of effects tolerated for other medications"
(Institute of Medicine Report of 1999). This opinion is supported
by recent clinical research. Besides abuse and dependency,
the main side effects of concern are those on the cardiovascular,
immune, and hormonal systems, and on cognitive functions.
Documented safety of long-term cannabis use
Studies have shown the long-term use of cannabis to be safe.
In contrast to many other medicinal drugs, the long-term use
of cannabis does not harm stomach, liver, kidneys and heart.
Side effects of the legal situation
The illegal status of cannabis under most jurisdictions causes
negative consequences for many with regard to their career,
personal and professional relationships, suspension of driving
privilege, and health. More...
Cannabis as gateway drug
Recent research suggests that recreationally used cannabis
does not act as a gateway drug to harder drugs such as alcohol,
cocaine and heroin. The same will apply to users of medicinal
Basic research on rewarding, tolerance and withdrawal
In recent years, scientists were able to show that animals
do self-administer THC under certain conditions. Basic animal
research also shows that cannabis produces tolerance and withdrawal.
This research helps explain abuse of cannabis and dependency
in humans. However, basic research cannot predict how pronounced
these effects will be in humans and whether they are stronger
or less strong compared to other drugs such as caffeine, nicotine
and heroin. More...
Dependency compared to other drugs
Compared to other widely used drugs (alcohol, tobacco, opiates)
a smaller percentage of cannabis users become dependent. Dependency
is also less severe compared to many other legal and illegal
drugs. The relatively low dependence liability of cannabis
is widely recognized. More...
Use and Abuse
The government’s review of the 1995 marijuana rescheduling
petition did not distinguish between use and abuse according
to professional standards, such as those in use by the medical
and scientific community. Widespread use of cannabis is not
an indication of its abuse potential, and widespread use of
marijuana without dependency supports the argument that marijuana
is safe for use under medical supervision. More...
Abuse of cannabis
Several studies demonstrate that abuse rates for cannabis
are lower than rates for other common drugs. Cannabis use
is usually not problematic use and cannabis users usually
have no social problems which can be attributed to cannabis.
The abuse potential of cannabis is insufficient to justify
prohibition of medical use. More...
Emergency room admissions
Data on both drug treatment and emergency room admissions
also distinguish the abuse potential of marijuana from that
of other drugs, and establishes its relative abuse potential
as lower than Schedule I drugs such as heroin and Schedule
II drugs such as cocaine. More...
Cannabis and dronabinol
There is growing evidence that there is no relevant difference
in subjective effects between (Schedule III) dronabinol and
cannabis. Thus, it can be expected that the abuse liability
is similar for both agents. More...