There are few subjects that can elicit greater feelings among scientists, doctors, academics, policy-makers, and the public than medicinal marijuana.

Is it safe? Should it be made legal or decriminalized? Is it really that effective? For what conditions is it useful? What about addiction and abuse? Is it actually the "wonder drug" people claim it to be or just a trick simply just to legalize it? These are just a few of the excellent questions concerning this subject.

Marijuana is legal in 29 states and in Washington, DC. Although it is still prohibited from the standpoint of the federal government, the Obama administration didn’t make medical marijuana enforcement even a minor priority, and President Donald Trump has vowed not to mess with patients accessing medical marijuana.

Approximately 85% of Americans favor legalizing medical marijuana, and it is estimated that it is actually used by several million Americans.

Marijuana without the high

The least controversial is the hemp plant extract known as CBD (cannabidiol), as this marijuana portion has little, if any, intoxicating properties.

Marijuana itself contains over 100 active ingredients.THC (which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound that produces the "high" that follows marijuana use. CBD-dominant strains have little to no THC with patients recording relatively little changes of consciousness if any.

Moreover, patients experience multiple effects of CBD, ranging from relieving depression, nausea, spasticity, and pain to curing life-threatening disorders like epilepsy.

A specific type of childhood epilepsy called Dravet syndrome is almost difficult to manage, but it reacts significantly to a marijuana CBD-dominant strain called Charlotte's web.

Common applications of medical marijuana

Throughout the United States, the most common use of prescription marijuana is for pain relief.

Although not strong enough for extreme pain (for example, a broken bone or post-surgical pain), it is very helpful for the chronic pain that troubles millions of Americans, particularly when they age.

Much of the allure is that it is obviously better than opiates (it is difficult to overdose and much less addictive) and can take the place of NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve if patients cannot tolerate them because of kidney or GERD complications.

Specifically, marijuana tends to relieve multiple sclerosis pain and nerve discomfort in general.

These are areas where there are few alternative solutions, and those alternatives, such as Neurontin, Lyrica, or Opiates, are rather sedative.

Patients say marijuana helps them to restart their former habits without becoming totally disengaged and out of it.

Along similar lines, marijuana is known to be great at relaxing muscles, and people believe in its capacity to alleviate tremors in Parkinson's disease. It is said to be quite useful for dealing with fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and most other disorders where chronic pain is typical.

Marijuana is also used for nausea and weight loss control and can be used to treat glaucoma. A particularly important research area is its use for PTSD in veterans coming back from conflict zones.

Many veterans and their clinicians record dramatic changes. Medical marijuana is also reported to support patients with HIV-related pain and wasting syndrome, as well as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

This is not an exhaustive list and goes to show the categories of illnesses for which medical marijuana can offer relief.

As obtained for other treatments, however, efficacy claims should be tested objectively and handled with caution.

Doctor-patient understanding

Many patients are in a situation where they want to know more about medical marijuana but feel reluctant and embarrassed about bringing this up with their doctor.

This is partly because the medical community as a whole has been overly dismissive of this matter.

Doctors are now playing catch-up and trying to keep abreast of their patients.

Many patients do use medical marijuana but for fear of being chided or blamed, they don't know how to inform their doctors about this. It is important that doctors be aware of their patients’ medical use of marijuana so as to ensure that they use it just for the intended purposes.

Doctors should be able to help patients answer questions such as - ‘How do I ensure I do not abuse?’, ‘How do I ensure addiction does not set in?’ ‘Are there any legal agency offering marijuana delivery near me?’.

This means helping them get the right quality, from the right sources and using it for the intended purposes only.

It is strongly recommended that patients be open and frank with their doctors.

Tell them that you believe this is part of your care, and you want them to be informed about it, and at least be able to guide you in the direction of the details you need.

For doctors, whether you are pro, neutral, or against medicinal marijuana, be aware that people use it.

And while there is no conclusive research and "gold standard" evidence of the advantages and dangers of medical marijuana, there is a need for you to know about it, be open-minded, and above all, be non-judgmental.

While some doctors argue that there is little reason to prescribe medical marijuana, there is also less clinical evidence to bury their heads in the sand.

Otherwise, patients will opt for other, less credible sources of information and continue to use it without informing you, resulting in reduced strength and confidence in the doctor-patient relationship and more importantly further jeopardize the patient’s health.