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Medical Marijuana, Legitimate Treatment or Excuse to Get High?

I have always been interested in health issues and healing. I am an obsessive researcher and label reader.

The Law and Medical Marijuana

Many states in the US have passed laws allowing Marijuana to be used as a medical treatment. Each state has it's own limitations on how the medicine can be obtained and how much can be grown or possessed. Some states have specific conditions that cannabis can be used to treat, others leave it entirely to the discretion of the patient's doctor.

In spite of these State laws, Federal law still considers Marijuana to be a Schedule I substance which means it is deemed to present a high risk for abuse, it has not been found safe to use, and it is not recognized as having any medicinal value. So, patients who use medical marijuana are in a bit of a legal gray area.

But Does Medical Marijuana Really Work?

Proponents of medical cannabis say it is a safe and natural herb that can treat symptoms of disease ranging from cancer and AIDS to anxiety and insomnia.

Opponents claim that it's too dangerous to use, it is not FDA approved and it's benefits are unsubstantiated. They fear that it can lead to harder drug use, have a corrupting influence on youth and many claim that medical use is often only a front for recreational use of marijuana.

Not many scientific studies have been done on the medical use of marijuana in the U.S, because scientists here have to get approval from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the FDA to do research on medical marijuana, and that approval can be hard to get.

California's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, with its headquarters at UC San Diego, was established to study whether marijuana has therapeutic value. The center also conducted studies Sacramento and San Francisco to assess the value of cannabis as medicine.

The state funded project was approved in 1999, three years after California became the first state to pass a law allowing the use of medical marijuana in 1996. The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research spent over 8 million dollars on the comprehensive research. It found that marijuana may be beneficial for patients suffering from nerve damage, HIV, and strokes among other things.

Seven trials have been completed as of 2012 and California researchers have found that cannabis does have value in medical therapy. Separate clinical trials were conducted by Dr. Donald Abrams at UC San Francisco and Dr. Ronald Ellis at UC San Diego on HIV and AIDS patients who were suffering from nerve damage. Both studies found that patients got relief from their pain using pot, even when they were already using prescription drugs for pain.

Director of the MS center at UC San Diego, Jody Corey-Bloom, found that patients using medical cannabis achieved significant relief from the pain of spasticity.

Medical Marijuana Without the High

Dr. Barth Wilsey conducted a study to determine whether pain relief could be achieved with marijuana without the the patient getting high. Wilsey found that patients with discomfort from nerve damage achieved comparable relief from pot with the psychoactive ingredients reduced or removed. Wilsey embarked on a new study on the effect of cannabis on patients with spinal cord injury. it was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Even after all these studies, which showed promise for the medical value of cannabis, federal agencies put most of their support behind studies concerned with marijuana abuse rather than any possible medical benefits.

While federal authorities were cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries in California in 2013, some researchers were wondering if any progress had been made in the quest to document the medical value of cannabis. Dr. Abrams has been quoted as saying "I don't think science drives the train here. It's a difficult environment at the current time to obtain funding."

  1. Alaska
  2. California
  3. Colorado
  4. Illinois
  5. Maine
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Michigan
  8. Nevada
  9. Oregon
  10. Vermont
  11. Washington

Medical Marijuana States

These states have enacted legislation that allows at least some use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. There is a lot of variation in conditions of use from state to state. Some specify which conditions can be treated, others leave that entirely to the discretion of the doctor. Some allow patients to grow their own medicine, others require them to buy it from a dispensary. They place restrictions, which vary wildly, on how much a patient can possess.

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. California
  5. Colorado
  6. Connecticut
  7. Delaware
  8. Florida
  9. Hawaii
  10. Illinois
  11. Louisiana
  12. Maine
  13. Maryland
  14. Massachusetts
  15. Michigan
  16. Minnesota
  17. Missouri
  18. Montana
  19. Nevada
  20. New Hampshire
  21. New Jersey
  22. New Mexico
  23. New York
  24. North Dakota
  25. Ohio
  26. Oklahoma
  27. Oregon
  28. Pennsylvania
  29. Rhode Island
  30. Utah
  31. Vermont
  32. Washington
  33. West Virginia

CBD Oil States

South Dakota, Nebraska, and Idaho are the only remaining states that don't allow medical use of any marijuana derivatives.

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The following states allow only Low-THC CBD oil, with marijuana remaining illegal for any purpose:








New York

North Carolina

South Carolina






Even in states that allow marijuana for medical or recreational use, there is no consistency in the legal requirements from state to state.

Anyone planning to use marijuana while traveling across state lines would be wise to check on the legal restrictions in each state they plan to visit.

What's Your Opinion on Medical Marijuana?

Recreational Use of Marijuana

© 2012 Sherry Hewins


Me on December 30, 2019:

Its mostly an excuse to get high. Unless you are an AIDS, cancer patient. No reason for you to smoke it. Learn to deal with your problems and not mask them with drugs. No different than Big Pharm,

Lisa Hayden on December 06, 2017:

Medical marijuana is obvious a legitimate treatment. Getting high is anyways while using cannabis is in its natural form. No one can deny the fact. But big pharma companies are lobbying to make it somehow illegal and our politicians are helping them to keep this natural herb away from people.

Jerry Plotnick from Salisbury on December 05, 2017:

I just published a hub on CBD Hemp, which unlike CBD from marijuana does not give you the high because it only has a trace amount of THC, the compound responsible for the mind-altering effect and the high.

CBD can legally be sold over the Internet to all 50 states, and relieve the symptoms of many ailments.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on June 17, 2017:

It's simple. Follow the money trail. Cannabis works, for many conditions, and Big Pharma doesn't like it, because it's a natural herb they cannot patent. There's no money in it for them, so they are behind the opposition, dumping large amounts of cash into the campaigns of anti-cannabis legislators and the heads of the FDA.

Big Pharma doesn't want cures or real help; they just want customers.

Carollynne-Farion from Niagara Falls, Canada on February 18, 2017:

I think its a little hard to listen to the biased opinion of the pharma companies, and health criteria ( as its well known your country is in bed with big pharma) ... In pain to get high? I think its more of a question of stress management for most who you would deem, "abusing" the plant, its a far better alternative to smoking ciggs and drinking. There will always be people who abuse substances, but as we note now that addiction is illness, not Marijuana's fault. And those people would seek out other forms of addiction regardless, Why not a natural plant that has roots in spirituality?

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on June 04, 2016:

Many medical cannabis patients do use marijuana that is high in THC as well as CBD. In fact, I would venture to say that most do.

This is partially because most of the marijuana available in dispensaries, at least here in the "Emerald Triangle" of California, are high in THC. When a doctor gives a recommendation for medical cannabis, he does not specify that it should be low in THC, at least that is my experience.

As I have pointed out in my article, there has not been that much research done on the true medical benefits of cannabis, simply because the US government does not choose to fund such research.

So, some may simply put up with being high to get relief from their pain, or some may say they are in pain to get the high. Thus, the question in my title.

On the other hand, THC may also be beneficial to some conditions. AIDs patients may benefit from the appetite stimulation (the munchies).

Buildreps from Europe on June 02, 2016:

It is the THC that makes people stoned. Medical cannabis is about CBD, another cannabinoid that doesn't make you high. Did you do any research?

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on April 07, 2014:

Up, Useful, Interesting, and shared.

Thank you for sharing these authoritative facts that confirm that medical marijuana is effective.

There is no good sense reason why getting high on marijuana or hashish should not be legal if sensibly regulated. I doubt if I myself would use cannabis if it were legal. As a writer, I prefer having a clear mind to getting high or drunk. But long ago and far away I knew adult persons who both drank booze and smoked pot responsibly (seldom at the same time), at the hosts' home, as a social recreation, with enough hours ahead for the effect to wear off before going to work and with at least one booze and drug free adult present to care for children and see that all was well. If pot were legal, its purity and potency could be tested and known. It is illogical and immoral for marijuana use (or even for addictive drug use) to be a crime with insanely extreme penalties instead of being considered, like boozing, alcoholism, and nicotine addiction, a foolish choice and for some at times a health and/or social problem, mitigated through regulations and programs. Neither potheads nor drug addicts are really criminals and neither should ever be regarded and treated as such.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 19, 2012:

izetti: I'm sorry to hear about all of your troubles. I hope all is well with your family now. I think is is very unusual to lose all memory of an event because of being stoned on pot. I don't know how it is in Washington, but here where I live marijuana is very common and easy to get. I doubt that making it legal would make it any more so. You have raised some valid concerns, I will be interested to see what happens in Washington and Colorado with the changes in the law.

L Izett from The Great Northwest on November 18, 2012:

well we are no longer far from legalizing it for recreational purposes. I live in WA state and it was just passed. I'm not thrilled. Most of the people on this comment section are older-ish and may not have young kids to worry about. Yes, I worry because ther eis already alcohol and smoking I'd like to detour them from, but now there is cyber bullies, sexting...and you want to add in marijuana? What happens is "responsible" adults say it's fine, I use it then their kids get a hold of it and they do not know how to control it.

I had two friends in high school who smoked it and both ended up in jail...not for "non-violent" crimes, but while they were smoking weed one burglarized and the other threatened someone with a stolen gun (separate occasions). Also my husband went to jail for not remembering if he was involved in a crime or not (pretty scary) but someone was stabbed at a party and someone said he was involved and he could not defend himself so he served 1.5 yrs (before we met). It took him 15 years to get his life back on track. The adult types are saying go for it, but when young ones get a hold of it (it will be easier to access) they don't have the maturity to handle it well or responsibly. I think older people who OK it are being selfish.

It kills brain cells and causes the munchies. can you say obesity epidemic and stupid people?

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 12, 2012:

Well, I agree with you there Sophia Angelique. It will be interesting to see what happens in Washington and Colorado with their newly approved laws about marijuana for recreational use. So far though, California voters have not such a law in, and of course federal law is still against use of marijuana for any reason. The war against marijuana seems such a waste of money, manpower and prison space, not to mention the negative effect it has on individual lives.

Sophia Angelique on November 12, 2012:

It doesn't really matter. People who want to smoke it should be able to smoke it. The financial cost of fighting drug cartels and imprisoning people is simply too high.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 12, 2012:

It seems that the actual medical value of marijuana has little to do with the debate here in California. It's all about the economic and social issues. Most government funding for research is focused on proving the detrimental effects, so empirical information is hard to come by. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

Vinod from Hyderabad, India on November 12, 2012:

According to me the debate surrounding marijuana should primarily focus on what the active ingredients do to our body and the benefits we can derive vs costs. Then the other issues will become easy to resolve. Nice hub. Voted up and interesting

DeAnn Dodd from Bakersfield, California on October 07, 2012:

What is the difference between marijuana being used for medical purposes and other drugs such as vicodin, norco, mophine or Tylenol with codeine? My personal belief is that it all boils down to social morays and has absolutely nothing to do with science or what is medically beneficial for people, much like the social morays that prevented the integration of African american children into white schools. Until people can get over their prejudices that they have been taught we can never move on as a society, to what is best for all of us. Will there be abuse of marijuana? Yes, of course, just like there is abuse of other legally prescribed drugs, we just need to treat marijuana like the others, then and only then will the abuse be lessened.

Jakub Dubec from Europe on September 12, 2012:

There is legal personal use (up to 5 grams). Growing up to 5 plants per person is not legal, but also it is not crime - is it misdemeanour and many people are growing only for personal use to make homemade tea, ointments, tinctures.. but also for smoking.

Here, where safety-catch for alcohol addicts was found ( what a prime ), there is no medical marijuana and many grannies were sent nearly to jail only because marijuana ointments helped them to cure their diseases.

Today, over 10 people died due to methanol in alcohol drinks. For 10 years, nobody died due to wrong use of marijuana.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on September 11, 2012:

Well, be careful neophonic. It doesn't sound like you're using cannabis as medicine. What are the law like there in the Czech Republic?

Jakub Dubec from Europe on September 11, 2012:

I Really LOVE to get high instead of getting drunk. I don't know anybody who has been aggressive, intoxicated nearly to death or killed somebody by riding a car under Marijuana. Alcohol rapes, kills, but it is legal and able to buy on every corner - why? Taxes to government?

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on August 26, 2012:

Thanks for commenting and voting Peggy W. I think you are right, the war on drugs, especially marijuana was lost long ago. Yet, the government continues to spend billions of dollars on it each year.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 26, 2012:

Since marijuana has been proven to help patients in many cases, my vote goes to making it easy to acquire it for those reasons. Just think of all the drugs that have been FDA approved and are later found to carry significant adverse affects! As to legislating against would appear we have lost that war. It continues to be grown and sold no matter what the laws of the land happen to be. Voted up and interesting.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 15, 2012:

You are most welcome Ma'am!

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on August 14, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the conversation Jackie Lynnley.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 13, 2012:

I have known some pot heads so I don't condone it and have no interest in it but if we legalized it just like alcohol; look how many people we would put out of business. I bet the country would make a lot on that and why not, all the billions we give Mexico to fight drugs (like I believe that is where it really went) has sure not done any good. I agree with Will, because they are going to fry their brains anyway, so why not make it a safer place for it to be happening and have some benefit from it?

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on August 11, 2012:

Maybe, but we still have to stand up for what is right and just, or we'll have nothing.

BTW, I'm impressed with the way you think.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on August 11, 2012:

Sometimes you can lose your freedom by being honest.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on August 11, 2012:

"I thought you were OK with that Will Starr"

Oh, I am! But let's be honest in our efforts. Instead of claiming that it's for medical purposes, let's tell the's our right as a free people!

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on August 11, 2012:

I actually think it's the marijuana growers that had a lot to do with voting down legalization for recreational use in CA. Partly because they feared competition from big agribusiness type growers, and partly because they feared crackdown by the Feds. The feds seem to be cracking down anyway, despite the fact that President Obama said it would be a low priority.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on August 11, 2012:

I thought you were OK with that Will Starr

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on August 11, 2012:

BTW, California is learning that most 'medical' marijuana customers are actually just potheads. While some do need it, most are simply dopers.

Sallier on August 11, 2012:

i think it's the conservative base that stops the legalization of marijuana. the only thing marijuana does is mellow people out and makes food and cigarettes taste better. as soon as those in power stop fearing the Right, it will be legalized. the movement is slow going, but it's going nonetheless. i think in about 10 years, marijuana will be legal for all and not just for medicinal purposes. Go 420!

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on August 08, 2012:

OK then, sounds good to me. WillStarr for president! You've got my vote.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on August 08, 2012:

I'm in favor of legalizing it all, which would instantly bankrupt the drug lords and get rid of most gangs. When it was once legal, we had no more addicts than we have today. In addition, legal drugs would be cheap, so no one needs to rob or steal to pay for it.

It's a win-win.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on August 08, 2012:

Thanks mary615. It seems like it's especially good for cancer patients because it helps with their appetite. I appreciate the votes.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on August 08, 2012:

I have heard from several friends who have cancer. They smoke marijuana for their pain. I don't blame them either. Doctors and the medical profession will never say it's good because there is too much money to be made in the prescription drug industry.

Great Hub, Sherry. I voted it UP, etc.etc.

Erin from Near Sacramento, California on August 06, 2012:

Hi Sherry,

Oh, wow! That's so cool that we're not to far away from each other!

Yes, things are so different now compared to a few years ago. You're right, those helicopters are noisy and expensive! I agree, can't they just use satellites? You're right, I'm sure it's all about money too.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on August 06, 2012:

ErinElise: I see you're not too far from me. It sure has been a wild ride as you say. People were so free about it, like it was completely legal, then suddenly the area was being buzzed by helicopters and people were being rousted for driving into certain neighborhoods. I'm sure it's all about money. Can't they see all that stuff from satellites anyway, why do they even need those noisy, expensive helicopters?

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on August 06, 2012:

Thanks Sis, I'm all for freedom.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on August 06, 2012:

Thanks for your comment MarleneB. I'm surprised I haven't got any comments yet against the medical use of marijuana. I would hope people would still be discreet with their use.

Angela Blair from Central Texas on August 06, 2012:

I've personally seen marijuana used as a medication and it was very beneficial to the patient in both instances. I have to agree with Will Starr -- if something is beneficial -- well, supposedly this is a free country and I'd like to see us remain so. Best/Sis

Marlene Bertrand from USA on August 06, 2012:

If it works, it works. There are a number of studies that show proof that marijuana works, yet the government fights and makes it difficult for people to receive treatment. Granted, some people would use their prescription as a legal way to get high. But, people do that now with other prescriptions that are legal.

I wonder where the government's head is when they are approving and disapproving drugs. Look at how they approved the use of alcohol and cigarettes. Unlike with marijuana, studies have shown that alcohol and cigarettes have severe adverse consequences when used in excess. Yet, these substances have been approved and they don't provide any type of medical advantage whatsoever.

My only contention with the passage of marijuana usage is that people have a tendency to get relaxed about how they use substances. Right now, I get absolutely angry when people smoke cigarettes in front of entrances to buildings. Even when they are not standing in front of the building, the wind seems to blow the smoke right at my face. I don't say anything to these folks because I know they have a right to smoke. But, what about my right NOT to smoke? I'm healthy and I don't want to contract lung cancer from secondhand smoke. I see the same thing happening with marijuana users. I'm healthy and smoke is smoke. I don't want to contract lung cancer from secondhand smoke, not to mention, I don't want to get high from secondhand smoke.

As angry as I would be that someone would be inconsiderate about their use of marijuana, I would not stand in the way of passing a law that allows it to be used as medical treatment.

Erin from Near Sacramento, California on August 05, 2012:

Living in California, (like many other people), I have witnessed what I will call the medical marijuana "fiasco" from the time voters approved Prop. 215 to present. (To me, fiasco seems appropriate -- I don't know what to call it and of course don't want to offend anyone.)

Over these past several years, the status of medical marijuana has gone from being legal with cannabis "dispensaries" cropping up on practically every street corner in every city of California to present day with most of them being ordered to close their doors. It's like the proposition never existed. The State Government seems to be under pressure from the Federal Government so there are changes in the works on how it will all be administered and by whom.

There are many people that benefit greatly from the use of medical cannabis. Unfortunately, there are probably just as many or more people just using it as an excuse to get high. (But, I think that some people feel it is more like a license or a permit to get high anytime and any place rather than an excuse. Or maybe both.)

Marijuana helps many people with a number of symptoms from chronic pain, stomach aches, period cramps, anxiety, stress, just to name a few. It's a known fact that prescription pain relievers such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, etc., can be (are) highly addictive. Withdrawals can be pretty severe depending on the amount of pills and length of time a time a person has taken them. There are many physical withdrawal symptoms when a person stops taking these medications and apparently the symptoms are pretty bad.

In contrast, a even a person who stops "medicating" with marijuana, no matter what the dosage or for how long, doesn't become addicted in the same way. Withdrawal symptoms are minimum with some discomfort, possible irritability, etc., but there aren't the physical symptoms like the withdrawals from pain medications and other drugs.

If people want to get high, and they are using marijuana as an excuse, isn't that better than them using other drugs to get high and then becoming addicted?

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on August 05, 2012:

Thanks for your input Ericdierker. I hope you in good health now.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 05, 2012:

I don't smoke. But I can smell a rat. I did smoke when I was being treated for cancer. They had good drugs for the nausea and vomitting, but the only drug that made we want to eat was the reefer. I went from about 220 down to about 120. Who knows without the weed.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on August 05, 2012:

"After all there are a lot of regulated drugs that are FDA approved, but require a prescription. Should we be able to self-medicate with those drugs?"

Lots of countries do just that, and, if we are really a free people, we should be able to use anything, even if it's stupid. It wasn't all that long ago that all drugs were legal, and there were less users and abusers then than there are now!

I would still support doctors prescribing the correct med and dosage, but more than that, I support freedom and liberty.

Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on August 05, 2012:

Thanks for the comment WillStarr. I agree with you, but I guess it's a separate question. After all there are a lot of regulated drugs that are FDA approved, but require a prescription. Should we be able to self-medicate with those drugs? I guess I would have to say I would support legalization of pot for recreational use, but that's a long way off I think.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on August 05, 2012:

It apparently works for lots of people, but the real question is this:

"Why, in a supposedly free country, do we tell adults what they can and cannot put into their own bodies?"

I support freedom, including the right to burn your silly brains out on whatever drug you like, as long as you do not violate my rights by using it, or expect me to bail you out if you get hooked

Good Hub, Sherry!

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