The Lexicon of Medical Marijuana


If you are considering whether or not medical marijuana may be of use in terms of helping with your current symptoms, the chances are that you have been doing a bit of net research.
One of the things you may come across is the tendency for many articles to use terms and expressions that are not necessarily well defined. Here is an informal, and maybe even light-hearted, attempt to explain some of these medical marijuana terms.

Medical marijuana

You can search all the plant dictionaries for as long as you like and you won’t find this listed.
That’s because the actual plant is called cannabis. It’s also worth pointing out that the ‘medical’ used in this description only really designates the way that the marijuana is used rather than a separate product to the so-called recreational marijuana.


There are, in fact, several varieties of the cannabis plant and not all of them are suitable for medical purposes. In practice, all of the above terms, plus many more, are used to describe essentially the same generic plant based product.

Legal marijuana

Now this is a tricky one! If you’re reading this outside of the USA, you’ll need to check the laws in your own country. If you’re in the USA, you’ll need to check the laws of your own individual state.  Medical marijuana is currently legal in about 16 states but illegal in the remainder (even if the few states in the latter category have reduced penalties for medical use of this substance).

If you’re in the USA and have your federal hat on, there is no such thing as legal marijuana.


THC (or if you feel brave, tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main chemical compound in marijuana that is claimed to have analgesic and other symptom relief properties. Different types of cannabis, prepared in different ways, may deliver higher or lower doses of THC.

Licensed distribution

At the time of writing, around five states have formal mechanisms in place for prescribing and distributing marijuana to people that have appropriate medical authorization.

Pothead etc

Unfortunately, there are still significant numbers of people who believe medical marijuana is simply a flag of convenience for those who wish to participate in recreational marijuana use.
Some of these may, at times, use derogatory terms to describe people that engage in marijuana use.  This is one such.


This is usually used to imply that the users of marijuana develop a substance dependence that transcends the use of the product for symptom relief. It is an exceptionally controversial subject and one where different standards appear to apply to marijuana as opposed to other symptom relief substances.The extent to which marijuana may or may not create a dependency situation is hotly disputed.  What is not disputed is that it is equally possible to become reliant upon other medicinal painkillers or substances that produce symptom relief.

Many advocates of the use of marijuana for medical purposes have stated that it is difficult to understand why the risks of dependence are considered manageable with many other far more addictive substances than marijuana, but in the case of marijuana, they are considered to be so grave as to justify trying to ban its use.

Hopefully some of the above helps clarify at least some of the terms used around medical marijuana!


Source by Andrew Bartlett

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