Medical marijuana” is a term pertaining to the use of the marijuana plant, either as a whole, unprocessed plant or extracts, as treatment to symptoms of a number of diseases and disorders. It is basically similar to the commonly known recreational marijuana, only that it is used for medical applications. More than half of the United States and the District of Columbia have legalized its use in certain form, and more and more states are expected to do the same. Here are some important facts about medical marijuana:

What is in the marijuana plant?

The marijuana plant, from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica species, is a source of over 100 different chemicals known as cannabinoids. Each of these chemicals may have different effects ob the human body. Among these cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are known to have medicinal properties. THC is found to have mind-altering effects. In fact, it is the ingredient responsible for the “high” that users feel when they smoke it or consume food that contains it.

What are the uses of medical marijuana?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved medical marijuana only in the treatment and symptoms management of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. These are two of the most severe and rare types of childhood epilepsy. However, medical marijuana is also used by many people in treating a wide variety of illnesses and conditions.

There are many medical centers in Tulsa that use medical cannabis as medication for Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis. Some people with mental conditions, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia, also use cannabis to treat their conditions. Marijuana is also said to be an effective treatment of pain, nausea, muscle spasms, and appetite loss.

Medical researchers are still conducting studies to determine whether medical cannabis can also be used to treat HIV/AIDS and substance use disorders. While medical cannabis is not yet proven to cure the conditions mentioned, many patients claim that it has positive effects on them, particularly in managing the symptoms of their disease.

How is medical marijuana obtained?

Before you can get medical marijuana, a doctor from a state where it is legal should provide you with a written recommendation. Keep in mind, however, that not all doctors are willing to prescribe medical marijuana as its use is still a widely debated topic. But before you can acquire a recommendation, your disease or condition must qualify for cannabis medication. In addition, you should also know your state’s regulations as to whether you need to have a medical marijuana ID card. This card must be presented when you buy at a dispensary.

What are the side effects?

There have been different reported side effects of using medical marijuana. These include bloodshot eyes, dizziness, low blood pressure, and fast heartbeat. Some users also report depression and hallucinations after using it. According to WebMD, the use of medical marijuana during teenage years may have an effect on the patient’s IQ and mental function.

More and more research is conducted to further study the marijuana plant and its potentials as medicine. When you have a condition that medical marijuana can help alleviate, it is wise to consult first with your doctor.