The usage of medical cannabis in modern times is controversial, and in recent years the American Medical Association, the MMA, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and other medical organizations have issued statements opposing its usage for medicinal purposes.
In general, research says medical cannabis sativa is safe and effective in controlling chronic pain, alleviating nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, treating wasting syndrome associated with AIDS, and controlling muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.
Several studies have suggested that cannabinoids may stop many kinds of cancers from growing and spreading, including pancreatic, lung, leukemic, melanoma, oral, lymphoma, and other kinds of cancer. A significant proportion of oncologists support medical marijuana as an option for their patients.
There are several species of Cannabis. They are:
Cannabis sativa: A strain found in Mexico and Central South America. The sativa plant is tall with narrow, serrated leaves. It has THC – the psychoactive-inducing part of the plant – and the effects are primarily on the mind and emotions.
Cannabis Indica: A strain found in Asia and India and grown in the US. The plant is short and stocky. Indica's effects are primarily physical and some emotional, including relaxation, sedation and pain reduction.
Cannabis Ruderalis: This strain is also called hemp and has no THC.
Cannabis Hybrid Strains: The result in cross pollination of various strains. The effects are often stronger than the original strain.
Unlike many abused drugs, an overdose of marijuana is not lethal, according to the National Cancer Institute. Although marijuana can be addictive for some, the potential for forming an addiction to marijuana is lower than some prescription drugs and other abused drugs.
However, marijuana has side effects. The primary psychoactive chemical in marijuana is THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, one of more than 60 cannabinoids (chemicals unique to marijuana). THC binds to cannabinoid receptors, which are concentrated in areas of the brain associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination, and time perception.
Researchers believe that regular cannabis use can have neurotoxic effects on maturing brain structures. A 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that people who started smoking before the age of 18, showed a greater decline in IQ and cognitive functioning than people who started taking as adults.