Much has been written regarding marijuana for medicinal purposes, and its ability to treat a number of ailments.  However, there has been an exaggeration from both marijuana advocates and opponents.  Every so often it is best to evaluate the science of the matter and not contribute to myth.

Side Effects

By all studies, and according to the National Cancer Institute, medical marijuana (or recreational marijuana for that matter) cannot cause a lethal overdose.  This is in stark contrast to other prescription drugs, street drugs, and recreational drugs including alcohol, which can easily kill abusers with improper dosage.

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that marijuana has no side effects because that is not scientifically verified.  Medical marijuana possess a psychoactive chemical called THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which binds to what are called cannabinoid receptors.  This will inevitably cause effects, especially linked with cognitive function, memory, coordination, and time perception.  This explains why marijuana can cause side effects like distorted perceptions, disrupted learning and problem solving and short-term memory, as government sites like the website claim.

However, claims of physical addiction and long-term brain damage have never been proven.

The Benefits Stand Out

The benefits of marijuana are far-reaching as authorities like Dr. Mitch Earleywine at SUNY state, and include pain relief, nausea and morning sickness treatment, glaucoma relief, and alleviation from seizures, muscle spasms, spasticity, and cancer pain.

The FDA remains open-minded, if not exactly supportive of medical marijuana research.  During a 2004 congressional testimony, a doctor stated that the main problem with legalization and testing is that botanical products can “range greatly” in efficacy because one plant differs from another plant in potency.  Nevertheless, the FDA states it will “remain receptive to sound, scientifically based research into the medicinal uses of botanical marijuana.”