According to Dr. David Bearman, cannabis is “one of the safest therapeutic agents known to man, even safer than eating ten potatoes.” This was further supported by Dr. Jack E. Henningfield and Dr. Neal L. Benowitz, two well-known addictionologists located at the National Institute on Drug Abuse and University of California at San Francisco, respectively. Both physicians concluded that cannabis is less dangerous than caffeine. This was determined by ranking five psychoactive substances on the following five criteria: withdrawal, reinforcement, tolerance, dependence, and intoxication. Further, Dr. Henningfield and Dr. Benowitz used the following definitions to outline each criterion:
Withdrawal – the severity of withdrawal symptoms produced by stopping the use of the drug
Reinforcement – the drug’s tendency to induce users to take it again and again
Tolerance – the user’s need to have ever-increasing doses to get the same effect
Dependence – the difficulty in quitting, or staying off the drug, the number of users who eventually become dependent
Intoxication – the degree of intoxication produced by the drug in typical use
Although medical marijuana is legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia, the DEA classifies cannabis as a Schedule I Controlled Substance along with heroin and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). In contrast with other Schedule I and II substances, cannabis has resulted in zero deaths with no toxic overdoses. Even the government National Institute of Health researchers concluded: “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.”
Further research is essential to evaluate the effects of CBD, THC, and the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) on pain management and a wide range of other medical conditions.