Medical cannabis refers to the parts of the herb cannabis used as a physician-recommended form of medicine or herbal therapy, or to synthetic forms of specific cannabinoids such as THC as a physician-recommended form of medicine. The Cannabis plant has a long history of use as medicine, with historical evidence dating back to 2737 BCE. Cannabis is one of the 50 “fundamental” herbs of traditional Chinese medicine, and is prescribed to for a broad range of indications.
American Cannabis indica purchased at a medical cannabis dispensary.
Supporters of medical cannabis argue that cannabis does have several well-documented beneficial effects. Among these are: the amelioration of nausea andvomiting, stimulation of hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients, lowered intraocular eye pressure (shown to be effective for treating glaucoma), as well as gastrointestinal illness. Its effectiveness as an analgesic has been suggested—and disputed—as well.
There are several methods for administration of dosage, including vaporizing or smoking dried buds, drinking, or eating extracts, and taking capsules. The comparable efficiency of these methods was the subject of an investigative study conducted by the National Institutes of Health.
Synthetic cannabinoids are available as prescription drugs in some countries. Examples are Marinol (The United States and Canada) and Cesamet (Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States).
While utilizing cannabis for recreational purposes is illegal in many parts of the world, many countries are beginning to entertain varying levels of decriminalization for medical usage, including Canada, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Spain, Israel, Italy, Finland, and Portugal. In the United States, federal law outlaws all use of herb parts from Cannabis, while some states have approved use of herb parts from Cannabis as medical cannabis in conflict with federal law. The United States Supreme Court has ruled in United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Coop and Gonzales v. Raich that the federal government has a right to regulate and criminalize cannabis, even for medical purposes. A person can therefore be prosecuted for a cannabis-related crime even if it is medical cannabis that is legal according to the laws of this state.