Twenty states have legalized medical marijuana, and in many of these, just about any ailment earns you a card allowing you access to it. A big reason for this is that doctors and researchers still have little understanding of how to best use pot medically. "There are only two types of people in the world: Those who think that cannabis will cure everything, and those who think that cannabis will cure nothing," says Dr. J.H. Atkinson, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. We offer a third kind of person: A handful of researchers who, in clinics around the country, conduct serious experiments on the potential benefits of this controversial drug. It's not surprising that the research is still quite preliminary. Marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug, the lack of government funding for research, and the existence of only one federal growing facility, in Mississippi, for all sanctioned medical marijuana research are just some of the major obstacles in the way of quality cannabis science. Even with this limited research, pot shows promise for some conditions, but not for others. We've outlined the facts about the better-known conditions.
Shows potential for: Inflammatory bowel disease
New research is backing up what sufferers of inflammatory bowel disease have long claimed – that pot can ease their symptoms. In a survey of 292 IBD sufferers, the majority of those who used pot medicinally said it was "very helpful" in relieving nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Other evidence supports these claims. Last year, a study from Israel's Meir Medical Center found that smoking two joints a day for eight weeks resulted in complete remission for five of the 11 Crohn's disease sufferers who were given that treatment.
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