There is no such thing as medical marijuana — not yet, anyway. The term implies a level of legitimacy that physicians only accord to medications and procedures that have been studied; then the studies are peer-reviewed, published, and reproduced; and ultimately the medication or procedure is shown to have more positives than negatives. Even then we sometimes get it wrong, have to admit our error, and try again.
Marijuana hasn’t been subjected to extensive clinical research because scientists can’t get it. Well, technically they can but since the Federal government classifies it as a Schedule I (dangerous) drug the regulations associated with marijuana studies are so onerous that it’s simply not worth the effort. So, what we’re left with is a vast pharmaceutical experiment buoyed by hopeful anecdotes of those who feel they’ve benefited from marijuana’s use. We don’t often hear from the folks who didn’t benefit or were harmed. That’s not science.
Does marijuana have legitimate medical uses? We don’t know. If and when Federal law changes we may well see real medical studies. Because the pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t seem to have a lot to gain, the government would likely fund those studies.
Under these circumstances we suggest doing what we do with most newly introduced pharmaceuticals: hang back while other doctors’ patients try it, giving the drug a chance to prove itself in wide clinical practice before using it in our own practice. For safety’s sake please consider doing the same.