The recent Statistic Brain Research Institute's data shows that nearly 1.14 million Americans are currently legal medical marijuana patients. Among those who use the drug, 92 percent find that marijuana alleviates symptoms of their serious medical conditions, including chronic pain, migraine, arthritis, and cancer.
It is hard to believe, but even though 25 states and D.C. have legalized cannabis for medicinal uses, medical marijuana still faces considerable skepticism not only among users but also in the medical community. As a former New York mayor has previously expressed, cannabis is “one of the great hoaxes of all time.” Last month, the U.S. government announced that marijuana would continue to be classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it hasa high potential for abuse. However, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) finally allowed the first-ever study on the plant's medicinal uses by making it easier for researchers to grow it.
It is amazing how little we really know about something that has been used for at least three thousand years. Unfortunately, we currently have a very little number of well-controlled unbiased large-scale studies on the efficacy of marijuana for treating various conditions. The main reason is that studying the health effects of marijuana is extremely challenging because of legal restrictions and the variability of the concentration of the plant's psychoactive compounds. However, the good news is that even despite the U.S. government's nearly century-long prohibition of the drug, it is nonetheless one of the most investigative therapeutically active substances in history. To date, there are almost two dozens of thousands published studies and reviews referencing the marijuana plant and its chemical compounds. Half of them were published within the last ten years.
Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of the studies conflict with the federal government's categorization of the substance as a Schedule I drug, showing the almost unlimited potential of medicinal properties of marijuana: it may have potential in the treatment of chronic pain, epilepsy, nausea, dystonia, gastrointestinal diseases, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, and a number of mental illnesses.
Due to the fact that federal laws restrain cannabis research and make it extremely difficult for researchers to get approval for conducting studies on the potential medical benefits of marijuana and, especially, obtain legal supplies, every clinical trial is worth its weight in gold. That is why the recent news about DEA's approval of the first-ever study on the effect of medical cannabis on the U.S. military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder caused a great resonance in the scientific community.
Nonetheless, the scientific world continues to evaluate the therapeutic effects of the plant through carrying out studies and analyzing the available data. All of this will allow the legal system to rely not on politics and biases regarding the impact of marijuana but on science.
We decided to gather all actual scientific data available in the open sources, summarize the most recently published studies (for the last sixteen years) on medical marijuana, and present the data in the form of a guide. The conditions featured in this guide were selected on the basis of the prevalence among all illnesses that are currently being treated by marijuana or the availability of symptoms that may be moderated by cannabis therapy. In some cases, scientific data shows that the drug may be more effective in halting the advancement of certain conditions than many pharmaceuticals