The Truth About Medical Marijuana
Is it a prescription panacea—or just an excuse to use?
THE POT DOCTOR HAS A BACKACHE. As Mahmoud ElSohly, Ph.D. shakes my hand, he’s wincing. Two days ago, ElSohly—the director of the University of Mississippi’s Marijuana Project—bent down the wrong way and threw out his back. And unfortunately, this morning’s visit to his chiropractor didn’t help him much.
Ironically, just outside ElSohly’s office in the Waller Complex—behind bolted doors, coded chambers, and security cameras—lies a government-guarded farm where acres of a pain-relieving drug grow in his care. Only Elsohly isn’t thinking about lighting up: He knows too much.
READ A HEADLINE TOUTING A POT STUDY, and it’s likely referencing the University of Mississippi’s carefully cultivated Mexican marijuana. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has named this lab the country’s one legal source of marijuana for scientific studies. It’s been operating quietly since about 1968—growing, harvesting, processing, standardizing, and analyzing marijuana.
The farm grows strains for testing with varying amounts of pot’s potent ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC—also known as the chemical that makes you “high.” But it does more than that. “There are many indications for which THC would be a good medicine if you have the right formulations and dosing,” says Dr. ElSohly.
Unfortunately, this is where the case for medical marijuana gets complicated.
You don’t need much THC to experience medicinal benefits, and street pot—as well as pot sold in dispensaries—is just getting more potent.