Marijuana’s therapeutic effects have been known for centuries, but its medical applications have only been recently confirmed. Here is a list of the most common conditions medical cannabis can be used for:
- Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Epilepsy and Dravet Syndrome
- Crohn’s Disease
- Cancer – for chemotherapy side-effects; further research is being carried out with regards to marijuana’s cancer-killing properties
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Parkinson’s Disease
- The side-effects of Hepatitis C and AIDS/HIV treatments
- Symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as Lupus
- Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME) & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Chronic Pain
- Muscle Spasms
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Evidence for the conditions marijuana can treat for can be found here.
The above list is by no means exhaustive, and research is being carried out on the potential of using marijuana for treatments related to strokes, concussions, sleep disorders of various kinds, addiction (particularly alcohol and opiates) and much more. Some strains can even help with arousal! (We’re looking at you, Northern Lights No. 5.)
Of particular interest in recent times has been Cannabidiol (CBD), which is now stocked in dispensaries and medical centers throughout the United States thanks to its medical benefits and the lack of “high” associated with Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, there are medical uses for THC, too.
So, why is marijuana medicine? Well, without going too into the scientific details, the main two cannabinoids mentioned above (THC and CBD) have specific medical benefits for most of the above conditions. THC increases appetite, reduces nausea, and controls inflammation, epileptic seizures and muscle spasms associated with neurological conditions. CBD has anti-anxiety properties, and also can control inflammation, epileptic seizures and muscle spasms. Thanks to its antipsychotic properties, CBD may also be used for schizophrenia treatment.
So, what makes medical marijuana different from recreational marijuana? The common conception is that strains high in THC is for recreational use, whereas strains that are higher in CBD are for medical use. However, as there are a wide variety of conditions all needing relief from different ailments, this is far too simplistic a separation.
This means that some conditions require cannabis that has both high levels of THC and CBD (e.g. night-time use for chronic pain, sleeping disorders), while others require cannabis purely for the CBD (e.g. seizures, asthma). Cannabis that has high THC but lower levels of CBD is usually better for daytime use and chronic conditions that can last throughout the day (e.g. chemotherapy side-effects, chronic pain), but where the patient wants to remain awake and motivated.
So, how does one use marijuana for medical purposes? Here’s a handy table to help you.
|Method Of Consumption||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Smoking (Joints, Blunts)||Perhaps the most popular way of using marijuana the world over. Effect is almost immediate, and dosage is relatively easy to control. Easy to carry, too.||All the problems associated with smoking tobacco. Can cause lung irritation. Combusting marijuana could release carcinogens, but this is not fully-proven as of yet. Those who mix tobacco with marijuana are still using tobacco, which is not recommended.|
|Smoking (Pipes,Chillums)||Many of the same advantages of the above. These methods of consumption are also less likely to utilise tobacco, so there is a plus there, too. No need to roll either.||Same as above. Though pleasurable, can use a huge amount of marijuana. This is also one of the smelliest ways to consume pot, which can be a problem if you’re out in public.|
|Bongs or Bubblers||The water/ice cools down the smoke and ensures a smoother “hit” than a joint or a pipe. The flavour profile of a strain is also more apparent through a bong or bubbler, and the effects usually a little ‘cleaner’ and more discernable.||The amount of smoke produced can still be harsh on the chest and lungs. Water can also absorb THC and other cannabinoids, which can make bongs and bubblers a highly inefficient way of using marijuana.|
|Vaping (using vaporizers)||The most efficient way of using medical cannabis. Easy to measure dosage, and can be used for either flowers or concentrates. As there’s no combustion (good vaporizers work by either conduction or convection), the harm associated with smoke is reduced significantly. The temperature must be set between 350°F and 450°F.||The precise health effects of vaporizing are not known so far. It seems that vaping removes all the dangers of combustion.
Another concern is with the quality of vaporizer. Cheap, badly built vaporizers may not even use convection or conduction, but still combust. Cheap ‘vaporizers’ are also prone to breaking down, meaning you may get some plastic and metal with your marijuana!
|Dabbing||Dabbing is essentially very similar to vaporization, but the contraptions are usually bong-like and it involves the use of a blow torch. This is currently the prefered method of using concentrates (shatter or wax), as it provides a huge amount of THC quickly.||The blowtorch can be dangerous! There are also problems with how concentrates are extracted, and some methods use potentially harmful gases like butane. This means impurities in the product are ingested by the body. The huge amount of THC delivered can also be overwhelming for those with a low tolerance or anyone looking for a less extreme effect.|
|Edibles (usually through cannabutter, oil and other infused fats).||For medical users, edibles are the second most prefered method of cannabis consumption. This is because no carcinogens are formed, and the effects are longer-lasting than vaping or smoking.||Getting the right dosage can be difficult. This can lead to undesirable and uncomfortable effects. Also, effects do not kick in until about an hour after consumption, so those looking for immediate relief may not wish to eat cannabis.|
|Drinkables (tinctures and solutions)||As with above. However, as tinctures are measured in drops, measuring the amount consumed is also easier. The effects are also quicker to hit.||Though dosage is easier to measure, there can still be problems in discerning the right amount. Similar disadvantages to edibles.|
|Topicals (cannabis-infused lotions, balms, oils, creams, patches etc.)||Topicals are applied to the skin and are used by patients for relief from localised pain, soreness and inflammation. Great if you’re looking for pain relief without getting ‘high or ‘couch-locked’.||Not for those looking for the psychoactive effect of cannabis. Though topicals are efficient, absorption through the skin isn’t the best method of consumption for conditions not dealing with pain and soreness.|