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Cannabinoids refer to chemicals present in the Cannabis plant, which is the source of marijuana. THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main active ingredient in Cannabis. Cannabinoids may also be synthetically manufactured, as in the drugs Marinol, Cesamet and Sativex.[1]

Marijuana is the most widely-used illegal recreational drug in the United States, and is usually consumed by smoking.[1] However, it may also be eaten in cooked or baked foods or inhaled through a vaporizer in order to avoid harsh smoke.


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Effects of Cannabis

Cannabis causes a "high" feeling, or a feeling of euphoria, by affecting cannabinoid receptors in the brain. This can cause changes in perception along with loss of motor skills, lowered capacity to reason or solve problems, and reduced ability to remember things or learn new information. The long-term effects of cannabinoids are not clear, but marijuana can be addictive.[1]

It is possible to be allergic to cannabinoids in marijuana and pharmaceuticals. Some users have noted symptoms similar to hay fever. Cannabinoids can also lower blood sugar, affecting diabetes and hypoglycemia. Because cannabis reduces blood pressure, it may be dangerous for those with hypotension. Cannabinoids may cause users to bleed more easily, and are not recommended for patients with bleeding disorders.[2]

Medical Marijuana

Some people feel that marijuana is an effective treatment for diseases and conditions such as glaucoma, anxiety, arthritis, anorexia, nausea, epilepsy and migraines. While some states have legalized the use of marijuana for certain medical conditions, using marijuana for any purpose is a violation of federal law. As a result, marijuana cannot be legally prescribed anywhere in the United States. Only synthetic THC is FDA-approved and legal with a prescription.[3]

16 states, as well as Washington DC, have legalized medical marijuana. These include California, Colorado, Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Maine, Hawaii, Delaware, Nevada, Michigan, Oregon, New Mexico, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington and Rhode Island.[4]

Supporters of medical marijuana argue that it can be a safe, effective treatment for the symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, and other conditions - as well as treating the side effects of the certain treatments such as chemotherapy. Proponents cite dozens of peer-reviewed studies, prominent medical organizations, major government reports, and the use of marijuana as medicine throughout world history.

Opponents of medical marijuana say that it is dangerous, lacks FDA approval, is unnecessary due to an abundance of legal pharmaceuticals. The arguments are that marijuana is addictive, leads to harder drug use, interferes with fertility, impairs driving ability, and injures the lungs, immune system, and brain. Many argue that medical marijuana is a front for drug legalization and recreational use.[5]

Cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals may be prescribed alone or in combination with other therapies to treat appetite loss, insomnia, epilepsy, eczema multiple sclerosis and chronic pain.[6]


The Debate Over Legalization And Medical Marijuana

Information on the medical marijuana controversy--medical marijuana, like all forms of the drug, contains cannabinoids.


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