(Un)Believable Facts About ‘Medical’ Marijuana


(DGIwire) — Marijuana has long had a stigma linked to it. Most people don’t look at it as a possible treatment for diseases but rather as a way for teens to “get high.” However, with 23 states having now approved the use of medical marijuana, and court arguments revolving around it, those in favor of medical marijuana have quickly become an impossible force to ignore. Both medical and recreational marijuana now constitute a fast-growing industry, with sales on track to top more than $3 billion this year. If we include revenue generated by ancillary companies—manufacturers who create plant-harvesting machinery, lawyers who represent growers, CPAs and accountants who advise startups—the numbers soar to somewhere in the $9.6-$11 billion range—nearly double the 2013 total of $5.7 billion.

Hemp cannabisBut where can a reasonable person delineate between the facts and the hype?  Dian Griesel, Ph.D., president of Dian Griesel International, a global public relations company that works with a large variety of healthcare companies, says, “Medical marijuana is a controversial topic of discussion that is attracting widely varying opinions, so it’s crucial for people to get their facts straight. Whether you are for or against medical marijuana is irrelevant, since Pandora’s Box has been opened. What we urgently need is greater understanding of the facts, legislation at the national level to support the actions of our states, and especially—clinical trials to substantiate the claims of those who are now prescribing, using or considering medical marijuana.”

Here are 10 reported benefits of medical marijuana from a variety of sources:

  1. The compound cannabinoid (CBD) found in marijuana has been anecdotally hailed as a treatment for a host of illnesses, including pain, arthritis, anxiety, epilepsy, cancer, hypertension, attention deficit and Alzheimer’s, among many others.
  2. Tetrahdrocannabinol (THC) is the compound found in marijuana that is psychoactive.
  3. Marijuana strains that are high in CBD and low in THC could be developed for medicinal purposes, particularly for the treatment of seizures and Dravet Syndrome, without the psychoactivity.
  4. THC has been identified as a mild pain reliever and sleep inducer, as well as an antioxidant.
  5. Studies show that CBD appears to slow growth and/or causes death in certain types of cancer cells.
  6. Pet owners are are experimenting with marijuana to treat their suffering cats and dogs.
  7. Teens are not smoking more pot after medical marijuana laws have been passed, according to a study published by Columbia University researchers.
  8. Medical marijuana is often administered to patients in alternative ways, including inhalers, pills and even edible baked goods—not through smoking.
  9. Estimates predict that nine percent of marijuana users develop a dependency.
  10. Though many states have approved the use of medical marijuana, it is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug—defined as the most dangerous substances with no acceptable medical use.

Marijuana and MoneyUntil the countless cure-all claims are shown to stand up via clinical trials, biotech investors should be wary of joining what sage investor Kevin Kinsella, founder of Avalon Ventures, terms “reefer madness.” Kinsella’s voice of reason urges caution and astutely advises: “Regulations can and should be expected. Until federal and state laws are aligned, investments in the medical marijuana industry will remain a ‘cash under the mattress’ kind of business, which is anathema for savvy investors.”

Both Kinsella and Griesel emphasize the need for peer-reviewed research. “What we essentially have now is largely anecdotal evidence,” says Griesel. “For the safety of all, we should be determining the therapeutic benefits, side effects and drug interactions of medical marijuana now, not later.”