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Medical Marijuana (cannabis) refers to the parts of the herb cannabis used as a form of medicine or herbal therapy, or to synthetic forms of specific cannabinoids such as THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) as a form of medicine.
The Cannabis plant has been used as a medicine over an extensive period of time, with evidence dating back to the fictional Shen Nung in 2737 BCE. Cannabis is one of the 50 "fundamental" herbs of traditional Chinese medicine, and is prescribed for a broad range of indications.
Medical cannabis is illegal in most countries. A number of governments, including the U.S. Federal Government, allow treatment with one or more specific low doses of synthetic cannabinoids for one or more disorders. However, public opinion in several areas, including the U.S., is swinging in favor of medical cannabis, especially for chronically ill patients. Cannabis has been reported by the Institute of Medicine to relieve symptoms associated with Cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, anorexia, anxiety, depression, and numerous other illnesses and conditions.
Studies have shown several well-documented beneficial effects of cannabis. Among these are: The amelioration of nausea and vomiting, stimulation of hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients, lowered intraocular eye pressure (shown to be effective for treating glaucoma), as well as gastrointestinal illness. The drug also produces antibacterial effects and is one of the best known expectorants.
On the National Cancer Institute website, the National Institutes of Health stated that cannabinoids found in marijuana appear to have significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, antitumor effects, and anticancer effects, including the treatment of breast and lung cancer. The anti-cancer effect is due to the presence of cannabidiol (CBD) in the plant, an anti-cancer agent that does not cause euphoria.
Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent for the CNN media network, published an essay on the CNN website in August 2013 in which he apologizes for his previous hardline stance against cannabis.
In 2009 Gupta wrote a Time magazine article entitled "Why I would Vote No to Pot" but stated in his 2013 piece that "I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis." His CNN article is entitled "Why I changed my mind on weed" and was written after an extensive period of research.