Actual medicines have research behind them, enumerating their benefits, characterizing their harms, and ensuring the former supersedes the latter. Marijuana doesn’t. It’s a toxin, not a medicine. It impairs judgment and driving ability. It increases the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia. Smoking it damages the respiratory tract. A 2017 report from the National Academy of Medicine called the evidence for these harms “substantial.”
Claims that marijuana relieves pain may be true. But the clinical studies that have been done compare it with a placebo, not even a pain reliever like ibuprofen. That’s not the type of rigorous evaluation we pursue for medications. What’s more, every intoxicant would pass that sort of test because you don’t experience pain as acutely when you are high. If weed is a pain reliever, so is Budweiser.
Some advocates say marijuana is better than opiates for pain. Yet while opiates have risks, there are no studies comparing them to marijuana, and untested claims in medicine don’t get the benefit of the doubt. Testing such a hypothesis often disproves it.