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Medical marijuana: A refresher on the 'medical' component

November 11, 2009 | 10:04 am

When it comes to medical marijuana, the nation's doctors seem to be softening their stance even as local officials harden theirs. All things considered, perhaps a refresher on the treatment and research realities is in order.

Today's story on medical marijuana by staff writer John Hoeffel begins: "The American Medical Assn. on Tuesday urged the federal government to reconsider its classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use, a significant shift that puts the prestigious group behind calls for more research."

And Tuesday's story begins: "As hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries have opened this year in a startling rollout across California, unnerved local officials have started to push back aggressively. Many cities and a few counties have banned them. Others have imposed emergency moratoriums. And some have started to sue dispensaries to force them to close. So far, the state's courts have sided with local officials."

Now back to marijuana's uses and potential. This article from health journalist Judy Foreman offers an overview of marijuana's safety and effectiveness in treating pain, cancer and other conditions. It notes, "There is a growing body of studies, much of it supportive of the drug’s medical usage, though some of it cautionary.’’ For more, check out a 2008 L.A. Times Health section story by freelancer Jill U. Adams.

And here's a nice explainer, via the National Pain Foundation, on how the drug affects pain. Plus a look at the issue from It poses the question: "Should marijuana be a medical option?"

"Medical" is the operative word for this element of the debate.

— Tami Dennis