In all of the political debate over Prop. 203 — the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act — information about marijuana's medical effects have been somewhat sidelined.
Critics say that marijuana in circulation now is much different and far more potent than the pot smoked in the 1960s. They say the new strain of marijuana is addictive, too.
For that reason, several substance abuse counselors have spoken in favor of strict zoning on the medical marijuana dispensaries, saying they have clients who are recovering from marijuana addictions.
Patients who use marijuana say it alleviates their pain without the harsh side effects of narcotic painkillers like OxyContin. And they say marijuana is not addictive like other painkillers.
In July, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it will allow patients treated at its hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal. The announcement clarified a conflict between federal and state law for veterans, since marijuana is illegal under federal law.
In 2009, the American Medical Association council on Science and Public Health conducted short-term trials that showed smoking sativa marijuana reduces neuropathic pain, may relieve pain and spasticity in patients with multiple scleroris and called for further controlled studies of marijuana.
The National Cancer Institute completed a study in the early 1980s on the effectiveness of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the active ingredient in marijuana). The study showed that THC relieved nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite in cancer patients and led the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to register Marinol, a Class III controlled substance containing a marijuana derivative.
Here are the facts about who would qualify for getting marijuana in Arizona if Prop. 203 passes:
Someone who has cancer; glaucoma; HIV/AIDS; Hepatitis C; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Crohn's disease; and agitation of Alzheimer's disease.
Patients with any chronic condition that produces cachexia or wasting; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures; severe, persistent muscle spasms would also qualify.