More states are passing laws that allow people to use medical marijuana. So what does it treat, and who can and should use it?
Pain is the main reason people ask for a prescription, says Barth Wilsey, MD, a pain medicine specialist at the University of California Davis Medical Center. It could be from headaches, a disease like cancer, or a long-term condition, like glaucoma or nerve pain.
As recently as 20 years ago, people with chronic pain were too often dismissively told that their problem was "in their heads" or that they were hypochondriacs. But in the last decade, a handful of dedicated researchers learned that chronic pain is not simply a symptom of something else -- such as anxiety, depression, or a need for attention -- but a disease in its own right, one that can alter a person's emotional, professional, and family life in profound and debilitating ways. Today, doctors have...
If you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal and your doctor thinks it would help, you’ll get a “marijuana card.” You will be put on a list that allows you to buy marijuana from an authorized seller, called a dispensary.
Doctors also may prescribe medical marijuana to treat:
Your body already makes marijuana-like chemicals that affect pain, inflammation, and many other processes. Marijuana can sometimes help those natural chemicals work better, says Laura Borgelt, PharmD, of the University of Colorado.
How Is It Used?
Medical marijuana may be:
Vaporized (heated until active ingredients are released, but no smoke is formed)
Eaten (usually in the form of cookies or candy)
Taken as a liquid extract
Side effects of marijuana that usually don’t last long can include: