The Science Of Medical Marijuana

Jan 30, 2014

Credit Wikimedia Commons

A lot of people think that the whole idea of "medical marijuana" is just made up as an excuse to get high. And, for some people, that may be the case. But marijuana has been the target of serious medical research for decades and many of those researchers say it holds real promise.

Floridians will be voting on a medical marijuana amendment in November. They’ve heard how smoking pot supposedly reduces pain, restores appetite, and manages anxiety. So the question for the scientists is this: Has the popular excitement about medical marijuana gotten ahead of the actual science?

"I don’t think it has. especially if you go to a meeting of the international cannabanoid research society", said Thomas Klein.

Klein is a molecular biologist and marijuana researcher at the University of South Florida, and he frequently attends those yearly society meetings. He studies the human cannabanoid system that reacts with marijuana-derived medications. One of them is a drug called Sativex which Canadian and European multiple sclerosis patients use to control nerve pain and muscle spasticity.

"The data is not 100% convincing that that it cures ms but it definitely relieves the symptoms", Klein said.

According to Klein, medical marijuana may be a passing phase as research into the body's cannabanoid system points increasingly to substances that resemble marijuana byproducts but provide effects that are more focused, and more legal.