Should Medical Marijuana Be Legalized at the Federal Level?

While the FDA states "marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision," studies have yielded mixed, though largely favorable, results. Studies assessing its use in cancer have even demonstrated its potential as a treatment option.

In January 2010, New Jersey legalized marijuana use for certain chronic illnesses, including multiple sclerosis, cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, AIDS, muscular dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Thirteen other states have already legalized medical marijuana, and legislation is pending in 12 others.

While the FDA states “marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision,” studies have yielded mixed, though largely favorable, results. Studies assessing its use in cancer have even demonstrated its potential as a treatment option.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),

Journal of Clinical Investigation

An article published in the in 1975 found that the active chemical agent in marijuana, curbed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers, and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, prolonging their lives by as much as 36%. Similar findings have been observed in more recent studies, including one published in 2009 in the , which found that THC promoted autophagic death of both human and mouse cancer cells.

The majority of studies assessing medical marijuana have examined its palliative effects in a broad range of diseases. The most recently published study assessing its use in the cancer setting compared the efficacy of a THC:cannabidiol extract, a nonopioid analgesic endocannabinoid system modulator, and a THC extract, with placebo, and found that the THC:cannabidiol extract was effective at relieving pain in patients with advanced cancer pain not fully relieved by strong opioids.

ABC News/Washington Post

A pole conducted by found that although only a minority of Americans support legalizing marijuana outright, the majority (81%) support legalizing it for medical purposes. What do you think? Do the positive studies outweigh the negative ones? Should medical marijuana be legalized at the federal level? Vote in our pole

, and while there, read our article “Medical Marijuana: Smoke & Mirrors.”