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The #1 Reason to Smoke Medical Marijuana, Say Doctors

There's a reason more and more states are making it legal.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

America has experienced a sea change in attitudes toward legalized marjiuana. Recent surveys have found that 94% of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, along with more than half of doctors. And there's a very good reason why. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.

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The #1 Reason to Smoke Medical Marijuana

Mature woman in casual clothes is having a stomach ache while lying on couch at home.
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According to doctors, the #1 reason to smoke marijuana is to alleviate pain.

"The most common use for medical marijuana in the United States is for pain control," writes Peter Grinspoon, MD, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "While marijuana isn't strong enough for severe pain (for example, post-surgical pain or a broken bone), it is quite effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, especially as they age." 

Marijuana might be used for nerve or muscle pain. It has also been studied for relief of headaches, impaired sleep, and fibromyalgia, among other conditions.

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Advantages of Marijuana Over Pills

Marijuana has advantages over common painkillers, says Grinspoon. It's safer than opioids, in that overdose is rare and it's much less addictive. Marijuana can also be used instead of NSAIDs like Aleve or Advil by people who can't take those medications because of problems with their kidneys or GI tract.

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Other Uses of Medical Marijuana

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Other common uses of medical marijuana include:

  • To ease nausea or vomiting, or to stimulate appetite, during chemotherapy
  • To treat glaucoma
  • As a muscle relaxant
  • To treat tremors in disorders such as Parkinson's disease

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Benefits of Marijuana

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Besides pain relief, marijuana could have the following benefits:

  • It may provide relief of anxiety or depression (although it may increase anxiety or mental health issues for some). A 2021 study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry found that "Medicinal cannabis use may reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms in clinically anxious and depressed populations."
  • It may lower "bad" cholesterol
  • It may help regulate blood sugar

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Side Effects of Marijuana

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Marijuana isn't the demon drug portrayed in Reefer Madness, but it also isn't for everyone. Some potential side effects include:

  • Development of Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD), in which a person's tolerance for marijuana increases, causing them to use larger amounts
  • Increased anxiety, depression or other mental health issues
  • Cardiovascular problems: Marijuna has been known to increase blood pressure and heart rate, which can be dangerous for people with heart trouble
  • Trouble breathing
  • Drowsiness, dizziness or disorientation, which can lead to accidents or injury
  • Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS), a rare condition in which marijuana users experience severe nausea, vomiting and pain

Says the CDC: "If you use marijuana products, keep them in childproof containers and out of the reach of children and pets. For additional questions, contact your healthcare provider, your health department, or your local or regional poison control center at 1-800-222-1222, or 911 if it's an emergency." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.