Cannabis indica fluid extract, American Druggists Syndicate,
Cannabis , Köhler’s book of medicinal plants from 1897
Medical cannabis has several potential beneficial effects. Cannabinoids can serve as appetite stimulants, antiemetics, antispasmodics, and have some analgesic effects, may be helpful treating chronic non-cancerous pain, or vomiting and nausea caused by chemotherapy. The drug may also aid in treating symptoms of AIDS patients.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved smoked cannabis for any condition or disease as it deems evidence is lacking concerning safety and efficacy of cannabis for medical use.The FDA issued an 2006 advisory against smoked medical cannabis stating; “marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse NIDA states that “Marijuana itself is an unlikely medication candidate for several reasons: (1) it is an unpurified plant containing numerous chemicals with unknown health effects; (2) it is typically consumed by smoking further contributing to potential adverse effects; and (3) its cognitive impairing effects may limit its utility”
The Institute of Medicine, run by the United States National Academy of Sciences, conducted a comprehensive study in 1999 assessing the potential health benefits of cannabis and its constituent cannabinoids. The study concluded that smoking cannabis is not to be recommended for the treatment of any disease condition, but that nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety can all be mitigated by cannabis.
While the study expressed reservations about smoked cannabis due to the health risks associated with smoking, the study team concluded that until another mode of ingestion was perfected providing the same relief as smoked cannabis, there was no alternative. In addition, the study pointed out the inherent difficulty in marketing a non-patentable herb, as pharmaceutical companies will likely make smaller investments in product development if the result is not patentable.
The Institute of Medicine stated that there is little future in smoked cannabis as a medically approved medication, while in the report also concluding that for certain patients, such as the terminally ill or those with debilitating symptoms, the long-term risks are not of great concern. Citing “the dangers of cannabis and the lack of clinical research supporting its medicinal value” the American Society of Addiction Medicine in March 2011 issued a white paper recommending a halt on use of marijuana as medication in the U.S., even in states where it had been declared legal.