Medical marijuana

Twenty-three states have legalized medical marijuana, and some patients who use it say it’s effective in treating chronic pain, arthritis, epilepsy, PTSD, cancer and other illnesses. But marijuana is a federally controlled substance. That makes it difficult for researchers to test its efficacy and for patients to decide about treatment. We discuss the science and politics of medical cannabis research.

Timmen Cermak, psychiatrist and past president of the California Society of Addiction Medicine
Tamar Todd, director of marijuana law and policy at the Drug Policy Alliance
Suzanne Sisley, assistant professor of internal medicine/psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine
Igor Grant, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of UC's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research

  • Ehkzu

    Preventing research on marijuana is yet another facet of the Republican Party’s war on science. They’ll do whatever it takes to prevent information coming out that they would find “inconvenient,” and their voter base is so ignorant and biased that this doesn’t bother them a bit. Not understanding what science is, not to mention critical thinking, they’re easily led by propaganda, as long as it panders to their biases.

    The Republican Party did the same thing in the 1990s with gun violence research, blocking the Center for Disease Control and the ATF, among others. This mix of bans and funding threats have continued to this day–even through the period when Democrats were in the majority.

    With marijuana, making it illegal in the 1930s came about not because we suddenly found out it was dangerous, but because it provided a jobs program for all those federales displaced by rescinding Prohibition, and as part of the South’s permanent campaign to keep blacks as subjugated as they were during slavery. Marijuana was presented as something Negroes took that made them act like wild animals, that good white Americans had to protect themselves from.

    And that, too, works to this day, incarcertaing huge numbers of blacks, and even when they get out, disenfranchising them for life and preventing them from getting access to social services and stigmatizing them from being able to get a job, funneling them back into criminal activities, thence back to prison, providing the product of this major business sector: prisoners.

    One of many ironies here is that there’s a “bell pepper” strain of marijuana which contains no THC (tetrahydracannabinol), the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.

    Meaning it doesn’t get you high, not matter how much you take. This strain should be immediately legalized and made the only version of marijuana available through pot clinics. That would eliminate any customers who are faking illnesses in order to get high, while enabling valid sufferers to get the benefits they need without having their minds altered.

    Of course marijuana should be legalized because though it isn’t “safe” it’s waaaay safer than alcohol. It’s blatantly discriminatory to make using one recreational drug a felony while making another legal. Ban them all or legalize them all and make it what it was all along–a public health issue, not a criminal one.

  • Ehkzu

    Why hasn’t the “bell pepper” strain of marijuana been legalized? It contains no THC, and thus won’t get you high. It is completely non-psychoactive. What possible excuse does the government proffer for making this illegal? It provides all the medical benefits of regular marijuana.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Talk about the “LETHAL DOSE LEVEL”, i.e., the numbers don’t lie that cannabis is proven safer and does NOT have the toxicity or deaths associated with prescription drugs, or even alcohol or any other illegal drug. In fact, there are no known deaths from cannabis use EVER, while cigarettes and alcohol kill more than one million annually. So by what rationale is cannabis illegal?

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    The harm associated with cannabis is a LEGAL one – arrest, detention, loss of job, and of course, the thousands of dollars one must spend for legal defense in response to prosecution. Our President supported the use of medical cannabis, yet allows the DEA and other Fed agencies to continue the ludicrous ineffective War on Drugs.

  • Sam Badger

    The best thing for medicinal marijuana would be getting rid of laws against recreational marijuana use. The only differences that medical marijuana should have with recreational marijuana is more precise cannabinoid content, and should be covered through the doctor. It would increase the legitimacy of medical marijuana, as it would reduce the number of people getting medical cards to smoke recreationally. Moreover, it would provide real benefits for those with glaucoma and other conditions which can be helped by marijuana.

    • Fay Nissenbaum

      Why should alcohol or cigarettes be legal when they are for more toxic and cause death?

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Doctors, is there an inherent drug-seeking behavior in humans? We can construct lavish praise about wine yet without the drug alcohol, does anyone dispute that wine would not be popular without the drug effects? So if humans inherently seek mind-alteringg substances, doesn’t it make good scientific sense to consume the least toxic for of medicating? Cannabis is the least toxic ‘intoxicant’ in existence.

  • baldi

    I feel that the pharmaceutical companies are a business more than a solution. They push opiates on doctors to prescribe,which are only helpful to poeple whom are dying. People are becoming addicted to these opiates only to be striped of them after they have become addicted. Marijuana is natural and can easily be produced by the patient them selfs. This is about greed and revenue. Cutting out the pharmaceutical companies out of the picture is a direct hit to this greed. Natural healing medicines have long been chastised by our federal gov. Alcohol, opiates and even high blood pressure meds are more dangerous and have dangerous side effect. Why are we still debating this? Feds and pharmaceutical companies are in bed together and we are their lab rats!

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    If someone is overweight and they use marijuana would this increase the probability of them gaining more weight since some articles I have read have noted using marijuana increases ones appetite?

  • Deborah Torrens

    I would like to understand the reasoning behind allowing marajuana dispensaries vs. dispensing via pharmacies. A dispensary opened in my neighborhood in the past three years and I have noticed a rise in homelessness, trash, graffiti, truancy and crime during that same period of time. I suspect a connection.

  • baldi

    Another tidbit, Americans work hard their whole adult life so they might have a comfortable retirement. Only to get cancer. Then their nest egg it spent to keep themselves barley alive, until the well runs dry. No more money? No more life…

  • Kathy

    It does seem odd that the source for marijuana research comes from only this one facility. Is the plant they distribute indica or sativa? Both strains differ quite a bit in their effects. There are also numerous hybrid strains, each of which can present a different experience for the user. I use medical marijuana occassionally to manage an anxiety disorder as well as helping with major depression. I have found it to be very beneficial but not all strains are equally efficacious for me.


    the researchers are too high…

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