Whether smoking or otherwise consuming marijuana has therapeutic benefits that outweigh its health risks is still an open question that science has not resolved. Although many states now permit dispensing marijuana for medicinal purposes and there is mounting anecdotal evidence for the efficacy of marijuana-derived compounds, the . Food and Drug Administration has not approved "medical marijuana." However, safe medicines based on cannabinoid chemicals derived from the marijuana plant have been available for decades and more are being developed.
Prescription drug misuse can have serious medical consequences. Increases in prescription drug misuse 2 over the last 15 years are reflected in increased emergency room visits, overdose deaths associated with prescription drugs 3–6 , and treatment admissions for prescription drug use disorders, the most severe form of which is addiction . Among those who reported past-year nonmedical use of a prescription drug, nearly 12 percent met criteria for prescription drug use disorder. 1 Unintentional overdose deaths involving opioid pain relievers have more than quadrupled since 1999 and have outnumbered those involving heroin and cocaine since 2002. 7