Marijuana is an herb. It contains chemicals called cannabinoids that affect the central nervous system. Cannabinoids are found in the highest concentration in the leaves and flowers, the parts that are used to make medicine.
Some people use marijuana recreationally to create a sense of well being or to alter the senses. It is either taken by mouth or smoked (inhaled).
Marijuana is also taken by mouth for medicinal purposes. A cannabinoid from marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is used in the prescription-only, FDA-approved product dronabinol (Marinol) for the treatment of weight loss or appetite loss due to AIDS and for nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy. Cannabinoids are at least as effective as some conventional medications for nausea, including prochlorperazine (Compazine), metoclopramide (Reglan), chlorpromazine (Compazine), and thiethylperazine (Torecan).
Cannabinoids from marijuana also appear to be similar to codeine for treatment of pain. However, extreme sleepiness and other central nervous system effects make cannabinoids undesirable as painkillers.
Other cannabinoids from marijuana have also been used by mouth to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Some people inhale marijuana for medicinal purposes. Marijuana is smoked for nausea, glaucoma, appetite stimulation, mucous membrane inflammation, leprosy, fever, dandruff, hemorrhoids, obesity, asthma, urinary tract infections, cough, anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients, pain, and multiple sclerosis. It is also inhaled to weaken the immune system after kidney transplant to lessen the chance of transplant rejection.
Avoid confusion with hemp, a distinct variety of Cannabis sativa cultivated for its fiber and seeds, which contains less than 1% THC.
In the U.S., marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, making possession illegal. Some states, such as California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and others, have legalized or decriminalized the use of medical marijuana, despite objections from the federal government. Some countries such as Canada also permit the use of medical marijuana.
Possibly Effective for...
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.