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What Is Medical Cannabis? A Short Guide for Beginners

close up view of medical marijuana buds and dropper with hemp oil oil on marble surface

In 2018, hemp, a type of cannabis, was officially legalized in the United States. By law, hemp cannabis must have less than 0.3% of the intoxicating tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of its many cannabinoid compounds.

The question of legalizing cannabis that contains more potent THC, also known as marijuana, has been the jurisdiction of each state. Marijuana has both medical and recreational uses. Medical cannabis is now legal in 38 U.S. states, including Mississippi, to manage various medical conditions.

However, many people don’t understand how medical cannabis might help them. This guide from our Mississippi team at LeafMed cannabis dispensary covers basic questions like “What is medical cannabis?” and how it works.

What Is Medical Cannabis?

Since 1937, marijuana had been an illegal drug in the United States. However, scientific research over the past 30 years has revealed that certain compounds in cannabis—phytocannabinoidsflavonoids, and terpenes—offer wide therapeutic benefits in managing many medical conditions.

Qualifying conditions in Mississippi are under the Medical Cannabis Program (MMCP). If you qualify, you can access medical cannabis through a state-verified dispensary. 

How Medical Cannabis Works

In the 1990s, scientists and medical researchers identified a system in the human body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This ECS system helps regulate the body’s cardiovascular, nervous, and immune systems within its cells. The ECS regulates vital functions that affect our everyday lives, such as:

  • Sleep
  • Pain
  • Hunger
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety

Medical professionals now often attribute health problems like migraines and fibromyalgia to ECS deficiencies. When the ECS breaks down, the body suffers. Here’s where medical cannabis comes in.

Cannabis plants provide the additional cannabinoids your ECS needs when you face injuries, illnesses, or high levels of stress. Cannabinoids work like messengers, improving cell communication and helping the ECS function so that the body maintains balance.

So what is medical cannabis, and how does it work? These chemical elements in medical marijuana can keep your ECS running smoothly, enabling your body to function properly.

Health Conditions That Medical Marijuana Can Help Manage

As mentioned earlier, cannabis and its derivatives are legally available for medical purposes in 38 out of 50 U.S. states. Each state has its own Medical Cannabis Program that stipulates which health conditions qualify. Some common conditions include:

  • AIDS
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV
  • Parkinson’s
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Ulcerative colitis

If you live with chronic conditions or diseases that cause ongoing pain and suffering, you could be eligible to receive medical cannabis. Check with your state’s Medical Cannabis Program the following symptoms qualify:

  • Chronic pain
  • Intense muscle spasms
  • Severe vomiting and nausea

How To Consume Medical Cannabis

If you’re wondering, “What is medical cannabis?” you’re probably also wondering, “How do you consume it?” Medical cannabis comes in many different forms, and you can consume it using various methods, including:


You can ingest medical cannabis orally, absorbing it under the tongue or in the gastrointestinal tract. Edibles take longer than other delivery methods to produce noticeable effects, but they provide more long-lasting results. Ingestible cannabis forms include:

  • Gummies
  • Pills
  • Capsules
  • Cookies
  • Brownies
  • Drinks


Another popular method for consuming medical cannabis involves topical application. You can use a transdermal patch or rub cannabinoid-infused medication directly on your skin to alleviate local pain and discomfort in the form of:

  • Creams
  • Salves
  • Balms
  • Oils


Inhalation is a simple way to consume medical cannabis and feel immediate effects. You can smoke the leaf in a specific type of pipe (a bong) or cigarette (a joint) or use vaporizing cannabis oils (vapes) for rapid effects.

Get Medical Cannabis From a Legal Dispensary

What is medical cannabis, and is it the best option for you? After talking to your doctor about medical marijuana, find a legal Mississippi dispensary like LeafMed. Call our licensed team at 228-335-5323 to learn more.