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    Medical Marijuana FAQ

    Has the FDA approved medical marijuana?

    No, because there hasn't been enough research to prove it works. The FDA has approved two man-made cannabinoid medicines -- dronabinol (Marinol) and nabilone (Cesamet) -- to treat nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. Syndros, a liquid form of dronabinol, was approved by the FDA in July.

    What are the side effects of medical marijuana?

    Side effects that have been reported include:

    The drug can also affect judgment and coordination, which could lead to accidents and injuries. When used during the teenage years when the brain is still developing, marijuana might affect IQ and mental function.

    Because marijuana contains some of the same chemicals found in tobacco, there have been concerns that smoking it could harm the lungs. The effects of inhaled marijuana on lung health aren't clear, but there's some evidence it might increase the risk for bronchitis and other lung problems.

    The National Institute on Drug Abuse says marijuana can be addictive and is considered a “gateway drug” to using other drugs. "The higher the level of THC and the more often you use, the more likely you are to become dependent," Bonn-Miller says. "You have difficulty stopping if you need to stop. You have cravings during periods when you're not using. And you need more and more of it to have the same effect."

    Another issue is that the FDA doesn't oversee medical marijuana like it does prescription drugs. Although states monitor and regulate sales, they often don’t have the resources to do so. That means the strength of and ingredients in medical marijuana can differ quite a bit depending on where you buy it. "We did a study last year in which we purchased labeled edible products, like brownies and lollipops, in California and Washington. Then we sent them to the lab," Bonn-Miller says. "Few of the products contained anywhere near what they said they did. That's a problem."

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on June 13, 2016
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