What You Need to Know About Medical Marijuana

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Foundation for Therapeutic Effects

Various species of the marijuana plant have been cultivated, and the active compounds worth investigating for medical purposes are known as cannabinoids.

Ingesting marijuana by any means (orally, smoking, etc.) introduces variable amounts of THC, CBD, and other minor cannabinoids into your systemic circulation. Research is geared towards these potential positive and negative “side effects” on your nervous systems.

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There are two clinically significant cannabinoids:

  1. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which tends to produce the stereotypical psychoactive effects. These affect brain function and result in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness or behavior.
  2. Cannabidiol (CBD) possibly produces therapeutic effects without appreciable psychoactive properties.

– Important links may be: analgesia, decreased inflammation, decreased spasticity, and antiseizure effects.

The Good

Many health care professionals advocate for its safety compared with drugs such as opiates, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories. Medical marijuana spray is being tested as a treatment for spasticity in multiple sclerosis. This same spray has been approved for use in United Kingdom, Canada, and several other countries. Preliminary research suggests that medical marijuana and related cannabinoids may be beneficial in treating people with:

  • chronic pain
  • inflammation
  • spasticity
  • other common conditions seen in physical therapist practice.

The Bad

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug worldwide. “Cannabis dependence” is a recognized psychiatric diagnosis. Users should be aware that marijuana generally slows down the nervous system – typically causing lethargy, slowed reaction times, or impaired coordination.

More serious long-term negative effects include an increased risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, and falls. Patients should consult with their physician before considering marijuana use.


Fasiu PS, Phillips S, ElSohly MA, Walker LA. Current status and prospects for can-nabidiol preparations as new therapeutic agents.Pharmacotherapy. 2016;36:781–796.

Physical Therapy, Volume 97, Issue 2, 1 February 2017, Pages 239–248,https://doi.org/10.2522/ptj.20160367

The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with Heather Lane Physical Therapy or another qualified healthcare provider.

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