Recent research confirms the effectiveness of marijuana in treating opioid-resistant cancer pain and the spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. Drugs similar to THC, a major active ingredient in cannabis, also show promise for preventing and treating posttraumatic stress disorder. Further, a recent clinical trial showed that CBD, another component of cannabis, can treat schizophrenia as effectively as standard prescription drugs, without the same side effects of movement disorders or weight gain, which can increase diabetes risk. Finally, both THC and CBD seem to have cancer-fighting effects — including, ironically, against lung cancer.
The illegality of marijuana, however — along with the fact that the plant cannot be patented — is a big barrier to pharmaceutical development of these promising drugs.