There are now legal medical cannabis programs in 18 states plus Washington, DC, with pot fully legal for adults in two other states. Ironically, however, the actual healing power of the plant has barely been tapped. Smoking marijuana with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), or better, vaporizing it (using a device to bake the plant material and inhale the active ingredients), has an indisputably palliative effect and can be medically useful for pain relief, calming and appetite stimulation. It already has confirmed benefits against glaucoma, epilepsy and other specific diseases and disorders. It also gets people high. THC triggers cannabinoid receptors in the brain and this produces the sensation of being stoned. These receptors are found in the parts of the brain linked to pleasure, memory, concentration, and time perception.
But, based mostly on research overseas there is an increasing consensus that the medicinal benefits of psychoactive THC pale in comparison to the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) from the leaves of the same plant--raw and unheated. Depending on the strain, some plants are high in CBD but also contain a lesser amount of THC which is said to enhance the healing potentiality. CBD does not make people feel “stoned” and actually counters some of the effects of THC (for example, suppressing the appetite vs. stimulating it). CBD is beginning to be recognized by researchers at mainstream medical institutions around the world as a potentially very powerful weapon against cancer.