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What Do Americans Really Think about Medical Marijuana?

More than 1,000 Americans in a Yahoo/Marist poll worry more about prescribed opioids than medical marijuana. Can it help cancer patients?
What Do Americans Really Think about Medical Marijuana?
Photo of dry medical marijuana buds with shallow depth of field

Americans are changing their attitudes about marijuana. In 2017, a Yahoo News and Marist poll of more than 1,000 adults found that two thirds think opioids prescribed by a physician are more dangerous than medical marijuana.

What Did People Think About Medical Marijuana?

The vast majority of the respondents believed that marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes. That includes both people who have tried marijuana themselves and those who have never used it. Of the 1,122 people polled, 573 had tried marijuana at least once and 160 reported using it regularly.

Yahoo News/Marist Poll 

What Does Medical Marijuana Help?

Researchers are just starting to investigate the potential health benefits of marijuana. Cancer patients find it helpful in overcoming the side effects of chemotherapy. People with multiple sclerosis use cannabis for muscle spasms and neuropathic pain.

Will Medical Marijuana Help Someone With Colon Cancer?

Q. What can you tell me about using marijuana for someone dealing with colon cancer? I have a friend dealing with this and I am wondering where to begin research to see if marijuana can help him. Purchasing medical marijuana in Texas could be a challenge. Do you have any suggestions about where to start?

A. In a survey conducted between 2016 and 2018, nearly a fourth of patients with colorectal cancer in western Washington state reported using cannabis (Cancer Causes & Control, Jul. 14, 2021).  The reasons people gave included pain management, relaxation, help with sleep or appetite and control of nausea or vomiting.

Rule Change in Texas:

Starting Sept. 1, 2021, people with cancer will be eligible to use medical marijuana in Texas. However, the psychoactive substance that makes people “high,” THC, is limited to 1 percent. That is significantly lower than the amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) permitted in other states. Some states allow as much as 15 percent THC in medical marijuana.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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