Medical cannabis, or medical marijuana, is cannabis and cannabinoids that are recommended by doctors for their patients. The use of cannabis as medicine has not been rigorously tested due to production restrictions and other governmental regulations. Limited evidence suggests cannabis can reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, improve appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, and reduce chronic pain and muscle spasms.
Short-term use increases the risk of both minor and major adverse effects. Common side effects include dizziness, feeling tired, vomiting, and hallucinations. Long-term effects of cannabis are not clear. Concerns include memory and cognition problems, risk of addiction, schizophrenia in young people, and the risk of children taking it by accident.
The Cannabis plant has a history of medicinal use dating back thousands of years across many cultures. The use of medical cannabis is controversial. A number of medical organizations have requested removal of cannabis from the list of Schedule I controlled substances, followed by regulatory and scientific review. Others such as the American Academy of Pediatrics oppose the legalization of medical cannabis.
Medical cannabis can be administered through a variety of methods, including capsules, lozenges, tinctures, dermal patches, oral or dermal sprays, cannabis edibles, and vaporizing or smoking dried buds. Synthetic cannabinoids, such as dronabinol and nabilone, are available for prescription use in some countries. Countries that allow the medical use of whole-plant cannabis include Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, and Uruguay. In the United States, 31 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, beginning with California in 1996. Although cannabis remains prohibited for any use at the federal level, the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment was enacted in December 2014, limiting the ability of federal law to be enforced in states where medical cannabis has been legalized.