Comprehensive Report Looks at Benefits and Harms of Medical Cannabis

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Cannabis-derived drugs have a legitimate place in side-effect management.
Cannabis-derived drugs have a legitimate place in side-effect management.

(HealthDay News) -- Current medical science has proven there are legitimate medical uses for marijuana and cannabis-derived drugs, according to a new report -- The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids -- published Jan. 12 by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

After extensive review of all available medical research, the authors of the report found conclusive evidence that oral cannabis-derived drugs can ease chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and substantial evidence that oral cannabinoids can effectively treat spasms from multiple sclerosis. Either oral cannabinoids or smoked cannabis is effective in treating chronic pain in adults, based on substantial medical evidence, according to the report.

The authors found little to no evidence to support claims that marijuana or its products can help treat anorexia, Tourette's syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, or neurological problems such as epilepsy or Parkinson's disease. Limited evidence also suggests that marijuana is of no use in treating glaucoma and reducing depression linked to chronic pain.

The report also stated that there's strong evidence that marijuana use can create a number of health hazards: use of marijuana at a young age increases risk for problematic cannabis use later in life; pregnant women who smoke cannabis have an increased risk of delivering a baby with low birth weight; long-term cannabis smoking can cause chronic breathing problems; marijuana use prior to driving increases the risk of a motor vehicle accident; and frequent cannabis use increases the risk of developing schizophrenia or social anxiety disorders.

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