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Social and Biomedical Sciences at the University of New Mexico

A recent poll conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine showed the majority of physicians in the U.S. believe that medical Cannabis is a safe and effective pharmacological agent for certain mental and physical health conditions (Adler & Colbert, 2013). With increasing morbidity rates associated with currently available treatment options, such as prescribed narcotic abuse (particularly among non-Hispanic Whites), there is a legitimate place for Cannabis sativa as an alternative and perhaps primary therapeutic option for patients with a broad range and severity of negative health symptoms. Importantly, a recent study found that U.S. states that have enacted a medical Cannabis provision have experienced a 33% reduction in opiate-based overdose deaths (Bachhuber et al., 2014). Although it cannot be discerned with certainty, these data suggests that some patient populations may be experiencing significantly improved health and lower morbidity rates as a result of the option to use Cannabis in place of more conventional treatment options (e.g., prescribed narcotics). The substitutability of Cannabis sativa for alcohol could also reduce the exorbitant number of deaths and costs associated with alcohol abuse and drunk driving.

 State health departments have approved a growing number of health conditions thought to be treatable with Cannabis sativa, based on the limited research available, as described here. These include:


  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Autism
  • Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS)
  • Arnold-Chiari malformation and syringomyelia
  • Cachexia/wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Causalgia
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • Crohn's disease
  • CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type I)
  • CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type II)
  • Dravet syndrome
  • Dystonia
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia (severe)
  • Fibrous dysplasia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hospice patients
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Huntington's disease
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Lou Gehrig's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS)
  • Lupus
  • Migrains
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Muscle spasms
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Myoclonus
  • Nail-patella syndrome
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Neuropathies
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Post-concussion syndrome
  • PTSD
  • Residual limb pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Seizures
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Sjogren's syndrome
  • Spastic quadriplegia
  • Spinal cord damage / disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA)
  • Terminal illness
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Undefined (any other) mental and physical conditions

Additional Resources:

Adler, J. N., and Colbert, J. A. Medicinal use of marijuana — polling results. N. Engl. J. Med 2013; 368:e30.

Bachhuber, M. A., Saloner, B., Cunningham, C. O., & Barry, C. L. Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010 JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(10):1668-1673.