About Medical Marijuana

*For current news on Medical Marijuana, click here: In The News

*For current laws on Medical Marijuana for each state, click here: Marijuana Laws by State

Medical marijuana — also known as medical cannabis or medical pot — utilizes either the entire unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat or cure a symptom or disease. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine.

Currently, the two main “cannabinoids” from the marijuana plant that are of medical interest are THC and CBD. Cannabinoids are any of a group of closely related compounds that include cannabinol and the active constituents of cannabis.

One cannabinoid, THC, increases appetite and reduces nausea. Although the FDA has not approved marijuana, there are some FDA-approved THC-based medications that are used to treat those with nausea and reduced appetite. THC may also decrease pain, inflammation (swelling and redness), and muscle control issues.

CBD is a cannabinoid that does not affect the mind or behavior. It may be useful in reducing pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures, and possibly even treating mental illness and addictions.

More states are passing laws that allow people to use medical marijuana. So what does it treat, and who can and should use it?

Pain is most often the reason for which people ask for a prescription for medical marijuana. It could be from headaches, a disease like cancer, or a long-term condition, like glaucoma or nerve pain.

If you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal and your doctor thinks it would help, you would get a “marijuana card.” You would be put on a list that allows you to buy marijuana from an authorized seller, called a dispensary.

Doctors also may prescribe medical marijuana to treat:

  • Muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis
  • Nausea from cancer chemotherapy
  • Poor appetite and weight loss caused by chronic illness, such as HIV, or nerve pain
  • Seizure disorders
  • Crohn’s disease


Laws vary by state so check your local state statute to see what indications are considered for treatment with medical cannabis medicines.