Broadly speaking, medicinal cannabis is cannabis prescribed to relieve the symptoms of a medical condition, such as epilepsy. It is important to make the distinction between medicinal cannabis and recreational cannabis. Recreational cannabis is the form of cannabis that people use to get ‘high’. For some people suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses, conventional medicines do not work, or do not work as effectively as medicinal cannabis. Also, for some patients, conventional medicines may work but cause debilitating side effects that cannabis can help to relieve.

Despite popular opinion, it is not legal for doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis, it is actually still an illegal drug under United States law, and regardless of what efforts are made by different branches of the government, medicinal cannabis cannot be prescribed by doctors. However, several US states have legal medical cannabis clinics and dispensaries, which allow medical patients to use medicinal cannabis derived from marijuana. So if you are suffering from a non-life threatening condition, you can use medicinal cannabis that has been prescribed by a doctor.

What Can You Do?

Because medicinal cannabis is derived from marijuana, it is not recognized by the FDA, the state department of agriculture, or any other government agency. Patients who use medicinal cannabis are still considered to be illegal drug users, even if all agree that the use of cannabinoids cured their condition. Because marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, which means it is extremely dangerous to use, it can not be prescribed by doctors. It should be used under the care of a psychiatrist or by a doctor who knows how to balance the side effects, and not used endlessly. If you are suffering from a non life-threatening condition, talk to a doctor in your state about medical cannabis.

Some forms of medicinal cannabis are not recommended for use. It is still considered illegal to grow marijuana and organize harvesting crops in an illegal growing environment. If you are considering medicinal cannabis, see if it is still available from your providers. If not, when you can no longer use it, try drying and throwing it away, so it will not be accessible to others.

In some states, medicinal cannabis can be prescribed with a recommendation from a doctor. Patients who have a doctor’s recommendation have more likelihood of getting the drug, and are more likely to follow the treatment regimen. Remember, medicinal cannabis can be abused, and in some forms can be very dangerous. If you think you might have a rare form of the disease, or are not sure, see if what you are using is safe for you. For chronic pain, a doctor’s help is still advised.

How safe is medicinal marijuana? Well, if you are taking a prescription medication for your illness, you can not expect to have unique prescription-only marijuana strains, because the pharmacology of these drugs are very similar. One kind may be easier to grow and extract for your own, and another kind may be more addictive or less therapeutic. This means you will have a harder time deciding which kind you want, and you will have to buy both kinds. Patients who grow their own can keep the portions smaller and therefore cheaper, and thus make less of each.

How can I decide?

Talk to your doctor, and find out if medical marijuana is available in your state. Most states allow patients to use a prescription, but two states (oli) do not allow this, fearing they will be divert to drug abuse. However, since there are over two hundred different strains of medicinal cannabis, everyone’s favorite strain will be different, so you will probably not get them all. This may be the key to your decision.