Cannabis bought illegally off the street, where the quality, ingredients and strength are not known, is the most dangerous form to use.
The government has no intention of legalising the use of cannabis for recreational (non-medical) use.
Some cannabis-based products are available to buy over the internet without a prescription.
Is medical cannabis safe?
A hospital specialist might consider prescribing medical cannabis if:
A prescription for medical cannabis would only be given when it was believed to be in your best interests, and when other treatments had not worked or were not suitable.
It will not get you high, because it does not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical in cannabis that makes you high.
If you experience any side effects from medical cannabis, report these to your medical team. You can also report them through the Yellow Card Scheme.
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.
There are public health concerns about the safety of driving under the influence of medical marijuana. A JAMA study found lower rates of opioid overdose deaths in states with legal 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.
Is medical marijuana “addictive?”
In states where medical marijuana is legal, shops, often called dispensaries, sell marijuana products in a variety of forms. Medical marijuana is available in edible forms (candies or cookies), oils and extracts, and as the plant which can be smoked or otherwise inhaled. Dispensaries require a medical marijuana card before they will sell products. How people can get a medical marijuana card varies by state. It requires a prescription from a licensed health-care professional.
CBD or cannabidiol is another compound in marijuana that is not psychoactive. CBD is thought to be responsible for the majority of the medical benefits.
Epidiolex is a CBD oil extract that is undergoing clinical trials for epilepsy.
Medical marijuana is the medical use of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant to relieve symptoms of, or treat diseases and conditions. The Cannabis plant was used medically for centuries around the world until the early 1900s. Medical marijuana facts can be difficult to find because strong opinions exist, both pros and cons. Medical uses and emerging research on off-label uses are summarized in this article.
For students with generalized social anxiety, a four-minute talk, with minimal time to prepare, can be debilitating. Yet a small experiment in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that CBD seemed to reduce nervousness and cognitive impairment in patients with social anxiety in a simulated public speaking task.
Dr. Smita Das, chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Council on Addiction Psychiatry’s cannabis work group, does not recommend CBD for anxiety, PTSD, sleep or depression. With patients turning to these to unproven products, she is worried that they may delay seeking appropriate mental health care: “I’m dually concerned with how exposure to CBD products can lead somebody into continuing to cannabis products.”
Does CBD work?
But without clinical trials in humans, psychologists say CBD’s effect on depression is still a hypothesis, and not an evidence-based treatment.
CBD is advertised as providing relief for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is also marketed to promote sleep. Part of CBD’s popularity is that it purports to be “nonpsychoactive,” and that consumers can reap health benefits from the plant without the high (or the midnight pizza munchies).
Earlier research found fewer than a third of 84 products studied contained the amount of CBD on their labels. Some users of CBD have also failed drug tests when the product contained more THC than indicated.