Professional opinion is that there isn’t currently enough high-quality evidence for the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana, nor is the manufacturing process and the concentration of the active ingredient(s) standardized enough to recommend it for the patients. Where legal, patients can consider it on their own accord but they should inform their health care provider so cautions can be taken about interactions.
Drugs (with the exception of the most lethal stuff like the ‘legal highs’) should be legalized for sale in licensed shops so that they can be taxed, monitor the quality, and push for better drugs and stop selling to the under-aged.
Penalizing drug use has not kept people away from drugs and has only succeeded in stigmatizing drug use which can discourage users from participating in society and from seeking help. As for medical marijuana, it can provide relief for some people. It has the potential to be more suitable for some patients than many of the medicines that doctors suggest.
While it is not without side effects neither are most medications doctors prescribe. It should be made easier for doctors to study the effectiveness of cannabis compared to other medicines so that the practice of medicine can be advanced. In recreational use, cannabis can be much safer than alcohol. There are valid concerns about the safety of smoking cannabis but alternative, possibly safer methods of delivery, exist.
For doctors, there are much higher expectations and ramifications for ‘opinions’ whereas in other situations pretty much everyone is entitled to one without sanctions. Hence the discordance.
Finding the rules to what is/isn’t medicine is hard. You first have to define what medicine is. That’d be going overboard, but it helps to look at this from a few angles:
If someone is “self-medicating,” then, no. If you’re not a doctor, you don’t get to prescribe your own medicine.
Is cannabis prescribed? (As in: is medicine a matter of legal status?)
Do you limit the quantity you consume and follow a dosing schedule while consuming it through Dry Herb Vaporizers?
What about the cannabis itself? Is it the same strain from the same grower from the same shop? Consistency is important.
Are you seeing a healthcare professional? For legal and ethical reasons, they can’t endorse it, cannabis as medication has been getting richer. Many doctors don’t see it as a medication, but that’s a limited experience.
Have you tried other medications (“official”, prescribed medications) for the issue? If you’ve run the gamut, and if you receive relief from your condition(s) by taking cannabis, things change again. When you’re out of options for something cannabis can treat, and if you try cannabis and it works, welcome to the grey area of the pot.
Medications, say in pill form, tend to be highly targeted. A tablet could be 1mg of medicine and 200mg of filler (ever wondered why pills from different manufacturers vary so much in size, color, and shape even though they’re the same dose of the same medication?). The people who make it know its composition, they can produce it accurately in huge quantities, and it’s that simple. That’s probably what most of us would agree is medicine. More or less.
Cannabis, on the other hand, is kind of a shotgun. The same strain (let’s use OG Kush as an example since it’s well known) is never the same as another batch of OG Kush. There will always be different levels of cannabinoids and terpenes in a batch, and yesterday’s OG isn’t going to be the same as today’s.
By referring to cannabis as a “shotgun,” it means the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes cannabis fires at you. It seems (emphasis on “seems”) that cannabinoids and terpenes work together to produce the mental/physical effects of cannabis. The way cannabis affects you will depend on how you react to these cannabinoids or terpenes. THC, CBN, CBD, CBG, linalool, limonene. These are common cannabinoids and terpenes, each affecting you in a different way. They also affect each other. CBD, for example, is sometimes treated as a panacea.
CBD, the most well-known cannabinoid aside from THC, will futz with the metabolization of THC and potentially other cannabinoids. The result? If that OG Kush discussed above has a little too much CBD, you’ll get a little buzz, but not much more. CBD also stays in your system for a long time. Get into high-CBD cannabis during the day, and your THC-based relaxation/sleep strain will be less effective that night.
The reason is that CBD does work for some situations (read about CBD). But if you’re officially being treated, are under the care of a doctor aware of the facts, see that doctor on a regular basis (whether that be weekly or monthly, etc.), and are being monitored for side-effects and the unexpected, then we could say CBD is a medicine. Pfizer might not own it all, but if cannabis (in whole or part) is prescribed and treated as a medication, then it might as well be medicine.
Here’s a different situation: You could have a gram of OG Kush. The person next to you has a gram as well. You bought them at different stores. They look different from each other. The effects of each are similar to the other, but not the same. It isn’t a reliable treatment because every last leaf, bud, and stem will have different levels of cannabinoids and terpenes. You can’t take that cannabis and say, “Get 10 milligrams of CBD to the patient in room 47. If there’s enough CBD, it might help. It also might not.
Now, let’s go back to the pill discussed above a few paragraphs back. It has one active ingredient, and it puts you to sleep. Same way every time, provided you haven’t done anything to alter the pill’s effect (such as combining it with other medication(s)).
Cannabis contains too many active components to be just one thing (unless your intent is recreational).
If a cannabinoid has been found to have a positive effect on a patient’s health, and if it’s better than a place in testing, then cannabis can be sourced for medicinal compounds. Those could be medicine, but not cannabis itself.
Maybe that’s the distinction. The whole flower is too much of a wild-card to be medicine, but it has medicinal qualities. It’s the cannabinoids, extracted and processed, that can be made into medicine.