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Revista Facultad Nacional de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 0120-386X


CASTANO-PEREZ, Guillermo; VELASQUEZ, Elvia  and  OLAYA-PELAEZ, Álvaro. Contributions to the debate on the legalization of marijuana as medicine in Colombia. Rev. Fac. Nac. Salud Pública [online]. 2017, vol.35, n.1, pp.16-26. ISSN 0120-386X.

Currently there is an intense debate regarding the legalization of marijuana for therapeutic uses seeking to decrease consumer criminalization. Paradoxically, despite the evidence of hazardous effects of marijuana with high prevalence of life, and new varieties of more powerful and more dangerous cannabis.


To analyze the available information on marijuana describing the evidence that exists and, in this way, contribute to the current debate on the legalization of this substance for medicinal uses in Colombia


This study is a bibliographical review based on the components of marijuana, adverse effects and evidence of therapeutic effects.

Results: The marijuana plant contains more than 400 active components, the toxicity of the majority of these components is unknown, and it also contains approximately 66 cannabinoids. There is scientific evidence of the medicinal effect of some components, yet there is still not enough research. One thing is synthetic cannabinoids from pharmaceutical research and derived from the marijuana plant, and another thing is the use of the plant as “weed”.

Discussion: Technically up-to-date, the beneficial components of the marijuana plant cannot be separated from the toxic ones, so when it is used for therapeutic or recreational purposes people ingest both. Cannabinoids produce in human beings a syndrome which alters important brain functions like memory, mood, sleep, attention, humor, coordination, cognition, time perception, and distortion of information, among others. This also includes dependence, tolerance, addiction and withdrawal syndromes already proven.

Conclusions: A lack of knowledge of the adverse effects of the use of the marijuana plant as such poses a serious health risk when used as medication without knowing exactly what a person is using.

Keywords : marijuana; therapeutic uses; cannabis; legalization debate; health risks.

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