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Current scientific evidence irrefutably shows that medical marijuana benefits people with certain medical conditions, but also sheds light on some of the side effects of weed. Should medical cannabis be legalized everywhere?

Marijuana for medical use is now legal in 28 states across the US, as well as in DC — yet the Drug Enforcement Administration decided, in 2016, to keep it on the list of Schedule I drugs, that is dangerous and illegal drugs with no recognized medical benefits, along with heroin and many other hard drugs. According to the federal government, possession of marijuana for recreational purposes is still a crime. 

What is pot, really? A dangerous drug or a healing medicine? The messed-up legal status of marijuana might well confuse you, especially if you're a law-abiding citizen who doesn't want to wander off the straight and narrow for one second, yet are facing a debilitating medical condition you've heard pot can help you with. 

Medical Uses Of Marijuana: Could Cannabis Help YOU?

How real are the benefits of medical marijuana truly? Were they effectively conjured up in the foggy bedrooms of thirty-something while smoking pot, 'cause they want to smoke pot without breaking the law? Reports that the medical benefits of marijuana haven't conclusively been proven at all — which you might read on Wikipedia, for instance — might have you suspecting that. 

A  395-page report published in 2017 and written by a panel of experts that reviewed over 10,000 research abstracts refutes that idea, however. While the report, published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, calls for further study of both the risks and benefits of cannabis use in a medical context and points out that those wanting to investigate how beneficial marijuana really is face very real obstacles, it is clear about one thing.

Marijuana for medical use — or its active components — does a good job at helping people with chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and multiple sclerosis-induced spasticity feel better. 

The panel further found that there is moderate evidence in favor of the idea that medical cannabis benefits people with sleep disorders, and "limited evidence" that weed could be good for people with a range of other medical conditions, as proponents have claimed. Among others, they include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and appetite-loss-related weight loss in the HIV+ population. 

Considering that marijuana's Schedule I classification makes it rather hard for scientists to study its risks and benefits, the report is welcome news. Hopefully, it's only the beginning — in order to fully understand the advantages and risks of cannabis for medical use, we need to keep studying. 

Beyond Smoking Pot: How To Use Cannabis For Medical Purposes

While medical users of marijuana can indeed choose to opt simply for smoking pot, there are many other ways to receive the benefits of weed as well. Cannabis can be eaten (think candies and brownies), evaporated, and chewed (in gum). Cannabis oil, frequently promoted for people suffering from cancer, can be taken orally, but it can also be rubbed directly onto the skin. This is said to alleviate muscle aches and inflammation, as well as relieving migraines. 

Furthermore, the medication dronabinol (Marinol®), a synthetic form of the active ingredient THC, was developed for use in chemotherapy patients and to help people with HIV/AIDS regain their appetite. These are capsules, which are taken orally. 

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