What is Medical Marijuana?

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What is Medical Marijuana?


Medical marijuana is becoming legal in an increasing number of states and it’s now not uncommon to find that someone you know is using it to self-medicate legally for a number of conditions. But just precisely what is the benefit of medical marijuana and why is it gaining popularity? Let’s take a look in a bit more depth at what medical marijuana is and why it’s such an important topic.

What is Medical Marijuana For?

The main use of marijuana in a medical context is to treat pain. In this regard it is similar to an analgesic such as ibuprofen or aspirin. It is actually much more potent than either of those medications however and so is only normally used for severe cases of chronic pain. While you might take an ibuprofen for a transient back pain or for a slight headache, marijuana is more likely to be used for chronic back pain caused by permanent sciatica, chronic joint pain due to arthritis, severe migraines or cancer. It is also used for nerve pain and glaucoma.

In order to use medical marijuana you will need to see your doctor who can give you a prescription and a ‘marijuana card’. This card will act as your permit to buy and own marijuana. Thus it is at the doctor’s discretion whether you will be prescribed and they may suggest alternatives first.

While using marijuana to treat pain might seem like an extreme step, it’s worth bearing in mind that many patients around the world use much stronger drugs such as morphine for the exact same purpose. It’s also worth considering that marijuana is actually very similar to chemicals that are already produced naturally in the body. Marijuana can actually just help to enforce these already existing chemicals.

Other Benefits of Marijuana

Marijuana is more than just a pain killer however and can have numerous other benefits that make it a good option for patients and GPs. For instance, marijuana has a very calming effect and many people find it therapeutic in a psychological sense. For some this might be considered a negative, but if you are struggling to come to terms with a life threatening illness or if you have severe anxiety, then using marijuana can help a great deal.

Marijuana is also a relaxant that can help to reduce muscle tension. Additionally, it’s also an appetite stimulant which can make it useful for those who have lost their appetite due to medication or for psychological reasons.

For these reasons, doctors have also been known to suggest medical marijuana for:

• Muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis.
• Chrone’s disease
• Seizures
• Nausea as a result of chemotherapy
• Poor appetite/weight loss due to HIV or other conditions

Is it Safe?

Some people may feel a little anxious to use marijuana and might be concerned about side effects. Is it safe?

Overall, marijuana is actually very safe and possibly even more so than some other medications. While controversial, it is not widely regarded as being physically addictive meaning that it won’t cause withdrawal symptoms and people won’t become dependent. There is some risk of a psychological addiction however, so it is important to know yourself and to approach your use of marijuana sensibly.

Marijuana is not free from side effects or risk factors. It can for instance cause side effects including drowsiness, euphoria, dizziness, memory loss and loss of motivation. It’s also worth noting that long term studies have found associations between marijuana use and liver disease, but a correlation doesn’t necessarily establish causality. What is meant by this, is that two things can be more likely to occur at the same time without one causing the other.

While more research needs to be done, right now the belief among many is that marijuana when used in sensible doses and for medical purposes is no more harmful than something like moderate drinking. The vast majority of us drink regularly knowing that it causes all manner of health problems. Using marijuana is no different – except that it might also help you to live with unbearable pain and stress.

How It’s Used

If you are going to use medical marijuana to combat health problems, then you will likely use one of the following methods to use it:

• Smoking – like a cigarette
• Vaporizing – heated and then inhaled but without smoke
• Eaten – cooked into cookies, cakes and other foods
• Taken as a liquid extract


In conclusion then, medical marijuana is a very useful and powerful way to treat some forms of chronic pain and can have other beneficial therapeutic effects as well. While it may have some side effects in the long term, these appear to be relatively mild when compared to the severity of the symptoms that it treats and the benefits that medical marijuana might provide. If you are living with pain then consider speaking to your doctor about using this treatment.


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