Q: Is marijuana sometimes used as a medicine?
A: There has been much talk about the possible medical use of marijuana. Under U.S. law since 1970, marijuana has been a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that the drug, at least in its smoked form, has no commonly accepted medical use.
THC, the active chemical in marijuana, is manufactured into a pill available by prescription that can be used to treat the nausea and vomiting that occur with certain cancer treatments and to help AIDS patients eat more to keep up their weight. Scientists are studying whether THC, and related chemicals in marijuana (called cannabinoids) may have other medical uses. Because of the adverse effects of smoking marijuana, research on other cannabinoids appears more promising for the development of new medications.
Q: How does marijuana affect driving?
A: Marijuana affects many skills required for safe driving: alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. Marijuana use can make it difficult to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road.
Marijuana may play a role in car accidents. In one study conducted
in Memphis, TN, researchers found that, of 150 reckless drivers
who were tested for drugs at the arrest scene, 33 percent tested
positive for marijuana, and 12 percent tested positive for both
marijuana and cocaine (1). Data
have also shown that while smoking marijuana, people show the same
lack of coordination on standard "drunk driver" tests as do people
who have had too much to drink (8).