Understanding the Laws Regulating Medical Marijuana
What is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana refers to any part of the cannabis plant that can be used to alleviate a variety of health conditions. When people use medical marijuana, they are seeking relief from pain and medical symptoms, not to get high.
The cannabis that is legally sold in dispensaries for medicinal purposes is typically the same as the kind used for pleasure. However, as research continues to identify how the chemicals in the cannabis plant react in the human body, new strains of medical marijuana are being developed with a focus on health benefits and fewer chemicals that cause mind altering effects.
CBD vs. THC
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the most commonly used cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant. After CBD is removed from the plant, it is mixed with a carrier oil such as hemp seed or coconut oil. It is known to have therapeutic effects to alleviate conditions such as nerve issues, PTSD, physical pain, epilepsy, and autism.
THC is the psychoactive compound that is responsible for the psychological effects of cannabis. THC causes cells in the brain to release dopamine, which is what creates its feelings of euphoria.
CBD affects the body very differently than THC. Compared to THC, it would take almost 100 times more CBD to have any impact on the body’s cannabinoid receptors. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause any feelings of euphoria or intoxication, which makes it an acceptable medical treatment that is safer than the addiction and overdose issues associated with opioids that are traditionally prescribed to manage pain.
Federal vs. State Marijuana Laws
Cannabis is a prohibited substance according to the Controlled Substances Act that was passed in 1970. Under this act, the Drug Enforcement Administration considers marijuana a Schedule I drug. This means that it is prohibited because of its potential for abuse, and there are not believed to be any medically acceptable uses.
Many more laws regarding the use of cannabis have been added, amended, repealed, and reinstated since the 70s. Today, there are over 30 states that have legalized the possession of medical marijuana. One of the main concerns with legalizing marijuana in individual states is that it is still considered illegal by the federal government. Federal laws take precedence over state laws, which means that you can be arrested and prosecuted for having and using medical marijuana, even if it is legal in your state.
Most of the state medical marijuana laws protect not only the users of medical marijuana, but they also protect their caregivers who may supply their medical marijuana. Many of the state laws include lists of specific conditions that qualify for the use of medical marijuana.
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved cannabis for the treatment of any specific diseases or conditions. However, the FDA has approved some drugs that do contain cannabis. These include Epidiolex, Marinol, Syndros, and Cesamet. These cannabis-derived drugs can only be purchased with a prescription from a licensed healthcare practitioner.
Learn More About Medical Marijuana
The legalization of medical cannabis is advancing worldwide, and there is much more that you can learn about medical marijuana and its use in the healthcare industry. cannabiscareer.com, a leader in education with nationally accredited colleges, offers courses to help educate the growing global community of healthcare professionals, caregivers, and patients who want to learn about the science and clinical data behind medical cannabis.