It’s that time of year when we take a look at the rapidly changing status of marijuana in the US.
Yes, the Drug Enforcement Agency still categorizes marijuana as a schedule I drug, one that has no accepted medical use, but since the late 1990s, a majority of Americans have thought medical pot should be legal. A majority support recreational legalization as well.
Washington D.C. and 24 states (plus Guam) have legalized medical marijuana (that number is even higher, no pun intended, if we count laws with very limited access).
But what do we know about the science behind medical uses of cannabis?
There seem to be some definite benefits. Even the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse lists medical uses for cannabis.
Yet it’s hard to study marijuana’s uses while the schedule I classification remains in place. It makes it difficult for researchers to get their hands on pot grown to the exacting standards that are necessary for medical research. Plus, there are hundreds of chemical compounds in the cannabis plant that could play a role in medical treatments, but for now, it’s hard to know which aspect of the plant is causing an effect.
Using all the compounds in marijuana simultaneously is like “throwing 400 tablets in a cocktail and saying ‘take this,'” Yasmin Hurd, a professor of neuroscience and psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told Tech Insider last summer.
More research would identify health benefits more clearly and would also help clarify potential dangers. As with any psychoactive substance, there are risks associated with abuse, including dependency and emotional issues. Many doctors want to understand marijuana’s effects better before deciding whether to recommend it or not.
With those caveats in mind, here are 20 of the medical benefits — or potential benefits — of marijuana.
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