Here’s how marijuana does, and doesn’t, affect your health

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The FDA cried fraud in October, accusing companies in Florida, Colorado and California of illegally selling marijuana-derived products that supposedly could prevent, treat or cure cancer

The advertising claims were unsubstantiated, said the FDA, and the products hadn’t been submitted for approval.

It was a public shaming that also served as a timely buyer-beware message for California, where the sale of marijuana will be expanded from medical purposes to recreational use in January.

With the prospect of big sales just ahead, the cannabis industry has been stressing that marijuana can be highly beneficial not only in health, but wellness.

Some of the claims are true, notably those involving marijuana’s value in treating pain. Physicians began pointing to that benefit long before California voters approved medical marijuana in 1996.

But consumers also are being exposed to ads and testimonials that conflict with the findings of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which struck a cautionary tone in January in a landmark report on the health effects of marijuana.

Scientists reviewed 10,000 cannabis studies and concluded that marijuana shows promise for such things as treating multiple sclerosis. But they also found lots to worry about, especially in the way marijuana affects the brains of adolescents. And the report says there’s not enough good data to determine whether marijuana can play a positive role in a wide variety of diseases and disorders.

The 468-page report claims that government hasn’t adequately supported cannabis research. It also says government is impeding progress by continuing to list marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, which means that it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Heroin is on the same list.

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