There are numerous studies underway on medical marijuana, but research is challenged by limited access given the FDA classification. A search of the National Institutes of Health funded projects list in 2016 revealed 165 studies related to cannabis and 327 studies related to the search term marijuana. The majority of these studies are surveys into use patterns. Many are also basic science studies investigating how the endocannabinoid system in the brain and immune system works. Survey studies that anonymously assess users habits and reported benefits may provide insight into the effects of real-world use patterns. There are over 60 peer-reviewed research studies that have been published about medicinal cannabis. Sixty-eight percent of these studies found benefit while 8% found no benefit. Twenty-three percent of the studies were inconclusive or neutral. The most promising areas of research appear to be in the use of CBD for neuroprotection.
Sexton, M., et al. “A Cross-Sectional Survey of Medical Cannabis Users: Patterns of Use and Perceived Efficacy.” (Under Review 2016: Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research).
Epidiolex is a CBD oil extract that is undergoing clinical trials for epilepsy.
How do you get medical marijuana?
Allsop, DJ., et al. “Nabiximols as an agonist replacement therapy during cannabis withdrawal: a randomized clinical trial.” JAMA Psychiatry 2014;71:281-91.
Bachhuber, MA., et al. “Medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality in the United States.” 1999-2010. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Oct;174(10):1668-73. Erratum in: JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Nov;174(11):1875.
Medical uses of marijuana include both studied and approved uses and off-label uses. In a recent research survey, the most common reasons people use medical marijuana are for
Fernández-Ruiz, J. et al. “Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid.” Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013 Feb;75(2):323-33.
National Conference of State Legislatures: “State Medical Marijuana Laws.”
The cannabidiol Epidiolex was approved in 2018 for treating seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. In addition, the FDA has approved two man-made cannabinoid medicines — dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros) and nabilone (Cesamet) — to treat nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. The cannabidiol Epidiolex was approved in 2018 for treating seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
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.”
Which states allow medical marijuana?
States that allow restricted use only include: Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina,South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Medical marijuana uses the marijuana plant or chemicals in it to treat diseases or conditions. It’s basically the same product as recreational marijuana, but it’s taken for medical purposes.
The marijuana plant contains more than 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids. Each one has a different effect on the body. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the main chemicals used in medicine. THC also produces the “high” people feel when they smoke marijuana or eat foods containing it.
Researchers are studying whether medical marijuana can help treat a number of conditions including: