Medical Use

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The American Marijuana Policy Project states that cannabis is an ideal therapeutic drug for cancer and AIDS patients, who often suffer from clinical depression, and from nausea and resulting weight loss due to chemotherapy and other aggressive treatments. It is claimed that cannabis makes these other treatments more tolerable. The nausea suppression and mild analgesic effects of cannabis also provide a degree of relief for persons suffering from motion sickness, and it can also be used by hyperhidrosis sufferers for temporary relief of excessive sweating. A recent study by scientists in Italy has also shown that cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical found in marijuana, seriously inhibits the growth of cancer cells (including breast cancer) in animals.

There are many claims regarding the use of cannabis in a medical context, both pro and con. On April 20, 2006 the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an intra-agency advisory warning against medical cannabis, restating the Drug Enforcement Administration's position that marijuana has a very high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. The FDA also asserted that "there is currently sound evidence that smoked marijuana is harmful". However, a recent epidemiological study funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) concluded that, "the association of these [lung and upper aerodigestive tract] cancers with marijuana, even long-term or heavy use, is not strong and may be below practically detectable limits." Nevertheless, the official position of several medical organizations including the American Medical Association , the National Multiple Sclerosis Society , the American Glaucoma Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Cancer Society is that they do not support smoking the herbal form of marijuana for medical use. On June 6, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision which supported the Federal Government's position against "medical marijuana". Justices O'Connor, Rehnquist, and Thomas filed dissenting opinions.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who was fighting thyroid cancer, disagreed with the Supreme Court ruling that allows federal prosecutions of ill medical marijuana users. Rehnquist, 80, joined a dissent written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor that said the states should be allowed to set their own policies for cannabis use. O'Connor, who has had breast cancer, said that states should decide on their own "the difficult and sensitive question of whether marijuana should be available to relieve severe pain and suffering."

Studies show that cannabis reduces intraocular pressure (fluid pressure within the eye) and may therefore be useful for glaucoma patients. It is also reported to be beneficial for treating certain neurological illnesses such as epilepsy, migraine headaches, and bipolar disorder. Studies have found that cannabis can relieve tics in patients suffering from OCD and/or Tourette syndrome. Patients treated with marijuana reported a significant decrease in both motor and vocal tics, some of 50% or more. Some decrease in obsessive-compulsive behavior were also found.[24] A recent study has also concluded that cannabinoids found in cannabis might have the ability to prevent Alzheimer's disease. THC has been shown to reduce arterial blockages.

Currently the citizens of 12 states in the United States (upwards of 60 million people) have legalized cannabis for medical use, for treating certain illnesses. Additionally, six states have enacted decriminalization policies toward the drug. Because the federal government does not acknowledge any legitimate medical uses for cannabis, federal enforcement of prohibition continues in these states.

The medical use of cannabis is politically controversial, but physicians sometimes recommend it informally despite the risk of federal prosecution in the United States. A synthetic version of the major active compound in cannabis, THC, is available in capsule form as the prescription drug dronabinol (Marinol) in many countries. The prescription drug Sativex, an extract of cannabis administered as a sublingual spray, has been approved in Canada for the treatment of multiple sclerosis; this medication may now be legally imported into the United Kingdom and Spain on prescription. Dr. William Notcutt is one of the chief researchers that has developed Sativex, he was been working with GW and founder Geoffrey Guy since the company's inception in 1998. Notcutt states that the use of MS as the disease to study "had everything to do with politics." United States federal law currently registers cannabis as a Schedule I drug (along with heroin and LSD), and Marinol as a Schedule III drug, despite the fact that they have the same active ingredient. Cannabis has also been proven to treat anorexia in a report published by the BBC in 2003 (link pending)

Cannabis
Marijuana is one of the most commonly used illegal drugs. This article looks at the health risks related to cannabis use.

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