Marijuana:  The Forbidden Medicine

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can I get a prescription for marijuana?
  2. Where can I obtain medical marijuana?
  3. How long do cannabinoids remain in the urine after the use of marijuana?
  4. What is a vaporizer and where can I get one?

How can I get a prescription for marijuana?

No doctor in the United States is legally allowed to provide a prescription for marijuana or any natural marijuana product.

In fourteen states there are now voter initiatives or legislative acts that permit patients with a written recommendation from a physician to possess and in some cases cultivate marijuana.  The precise circumstances in which this is allowed vary, and you must check the law in your own state. Furthermore, the federal government has claimed the power to supersede the state laws and maintain prohibition.  It is not yet clear to what extent the courts will enforce this view. 

A synthetic version of the main active substance in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, is available in the form of a pill under the name of dronabinol or Marinol. It is now in Schedule III and any licensed physician can prescribe this medicine.


Where can I obtain medical marijuana?

I have added this to my website because I think it is well done and can
be most helpful to those patients who are lucky enough to live in a state
where such dispensaries are available to find such a resource.  As I
understand it, as new states and dispensaries come on board this website will be
updated. - Lester Grinspoon, MD

This is a list of marijuana dispensaries  in the United States. You can use it to search for a specific dispensary or to view information about different locations in a state.
This list is editable as well as interactive. If you find any incorrect, out-of-date or missing information, you can update it:

  • Click a dispensary’s name to view its details.
  • Filter or sort the information by clicking any of the column headings. You can apply multiple filters by first filtering one column – such as state – and then filtering another column.
  • To find all dispensaries in California, for instance, click on the “state” header then hit “filter this field.” Next, place “CA” in the “state that contains” box.
  • Resize a column by clicking-and-dragging the edge of the column heading. Alternatively, you can use the scrollbar at the bottom of the table to view obscured columns.
  • Click the page number at the bottom of the list to jump to another page.
  • Click any cell to update its data.
  • Click the “add row” button to add a dispensary missing from the table.

This information is syndicated and is available on a number of Web sites. Any changes made here will automatically update the list wherever it is displayed across the Web.




How long do cannabinoids remain in the urine after the use of marijuana?

Cannabinoids are fat soluble, so they are eliminated from the body slowly. A single use of marijuana will leave traces in the urine for about 48 hours. If marijuana is used medicinally and thus repeatedly, traces of cannabinoid derivatives will remain in the urine for as long as five or six weeks after cessation of use. The more liquids a person drinks just before the time of observation, the lower the proportion of cannabinoid derivatives found in the urine.

All of the above applies not only to whole smoked cannabis but to dronabinol (Marinol), the synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabinol that is legally available as a prescription drug.




What is a vaporizer and where can I get one?

Several patients have shown an interest in vaporizers as a way to administer medical marijuana.

A vaporizer is a device that allows the patient to separate the cannabinoids (the therapeutically effective chemicals in marijuana) from the plant material without burning. This is possible because cannabinoids vaporize (turn to a gaseous form that can be inhaled) at a temperature lower than that required for burning. As a result, the patient can inhale without taking in the burned plant material that constitutes the smoke. Some, including the authors of the recent IOM report on medical marijuana, regard this smoke as the main hazard of using marijuana. The vaporizer allows those who share this concern to make use of inhalation, with its rapid onset of action and ease of adjusting the dose. Vaporizers are also economical, because a smaller amount of marijuana is needed for symptom relief when it is taken by this route.

At this time, we can recommend only one vaporizer.  Of the half dozen vaporizers we have had experience with, the Volcano system is the best. Unfortunately, it is expensive.  We are trying to identify less expensive and equally good alternatives.  As we succeed, these models will be posted here. 


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