Medical Marijuana


Medical marijuana or medical cannabis refers to the use of pharmacologic agents derived from the flowering plant genus Cannabis to treat disease or alleviate symptoms.


  • Marijuana plants contain >100 phytocannabinoids.
  • Phytocannabinoids are naturally occurring molecules with an affinity for the mammalian cannabinoid receptors.
  • The main cannabinoids that are used for medical marijuana are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Most of the psychoactive properties come from THC.
  • Cannabis interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our bodies. The ECS plays critical roles in body homeostasis.
  • The ECS has two main receptors:
    • CB1—highly expressed in the central nervous system
    • CB 2—expressed in the periphery including the immune system
  • Routes of external cannabinoid administration include inhalation (smoking and vaporized), oral ingestion of edible products, and topical (oral mucosa or skin).


  • In the United States, 36 states and 4 territories allow for the medical use of cannabis products, although it remains illegal under federal law.
  • 49 countries worldwide have legalized the medical use of cannabis.

Prevalence of medical cannabis in the U.S. primary care population is estimated at 2% and growing, with 15% of the U.S. population reporting regular use of recreational marijuana.

There's more to see -- the rest of this topic is available only to subscribers.