Medical Marijuana

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Basics

Medical marijuana refers to the use of cannabis or cannabinoids as medical therapy to treat disease or alleviate symptoms.

Description

  • Marijuana contains >100 pharmacologically active compounds (“cannabinoids”).
  • The most commonly isolated active ingredients include Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Most of the psychoactive properties come from THC.
  • Routes of administration include inhaled, intranasal, oral (extract, mixed into food, or made into tea), sublingual, and topical.
  • Cannabinoids can be taken in herbal form, extracted naturally from the plant, gained by isomerization of CBD, or manufactured synthetically.

Epidemiology

  • Cannabis is the most widely consumed illicit substance worldwide.
  • An estimated 192 million people aged 15 to 64 years used cannabis in 2016.
  • In the United States in 2016, 8.9% of individuals 12 years old had smoked cannabis in the previous month and 13.9% in the past year, and 46% of 12- to 17-year-olds have used marijuana in 2016.
  • Use among high school seniors now exceeds tobacco use and is commonly seen in lower socioeconomic groups.
  • More than half of the states in United States have legalized marijuana, although it remains illegal under federal law (schedule 1 substance).

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