Weâ€™re a long way from thinking weed is just about getting high.
According to Project CBD, cannabidoil can be therapeutic for many conditions, including acne, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, fibromyalgia, MS, spinal cord injury and more.
Another study suggests that â€˜small doses of smoked cannabis may improve pain, mood and sleep in some patients with chronic pain.â€™
As itâ€™s 4/20 today, we spoke to people who smoke weed to manage their chronic pain. These people have a range of conditions which they use cannabis to self-medicate.
We asked them why they use it, how it helps and what theyâ€™d like others to know about smoking weed to help with chronic illness.
27-year-old Madeline started smoking weed when she was going through a bad breakup because it helped her mood.
She would only smoke socially, and would never buy marijuana herself. But after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, she started smoking it to reduce her symptoms, such as severe stomach pain and joint pain caused by the inflammation in her bowel.
She says her UC, which is a form of inflammatory bowel disease, can sometimes give her trouble walking, and the weed gives her â€˜more mobilityâ€™, while also calming her mind and making her less anxious.
She said: â€˜I want people to know that it isnâ€™t a bad thing to smoke weed, especially for an illness, some people use CBD oil or whatever but weed is the full thing and helps even more. It gives me parts of my life back, it gives people with more severe issues their whole lives back.â€™
Chloe, 23, used weed to self-medicate while going through cervical biposies and invasive treatment to diagnose and treat what turned out to be pre-cancerous cells on her cervix.
She says smoking really helped her â€˜madly intense crampsâ€™.
Chloe explained: â€˜It takes the sharp side of pain away, it doesnâ€™t cure me but it makes the pain a lot more manageable.
â€˜Iâ€™d like people to know that a LOT of people in this country smoke weed to help with pain and theyâ€™re not all snoop dog esque â€˜stonersâ€™.
â€˜I was working for the BBC when I smoked it the most for pain, and I still managed to hold down my job and get promoted despite smoking every morning before I came in to soften the pain.
â€˜Also, you donâ€™t have to smoke weed to get the benefits, there are so many cannabis products out there now you can take it in pretty much any way.â€™
Kenny, 38, started smoking weed properly at 19 after being diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.
He tells us: â€˜I feel it helps give me confidence and a spring in my step at times when I need it, as well as helping me relax on the evenings.
â€˜Social anxiety is quite an isolating illness at times and I feel weed allows me to change my perspective for a couple of hours at a time when I feel I could use it.
â€˜For people using weed to help with an illness, thereâ€™s no all night raves or wild parties related to the weed use â€“ weâ€™re not underworld criminals, we just feel the benefits of using something which helps our condition and assists us in living a happier and more productive life.â€™
22-year-old Dan smokes weed to help with his chronic pain. He has small fibre neuropathy that was triggered by a back injury in high school, and it causes redirected pain from his back to his feet, causing them to have a burning sensation.
He tells us: â€˜I started smoking it as another alternative to the prescription medication Iâ€™m taking.
â€˜The medication is not as strong as it once was and so my pain has slowly returned, so I needed to find an alternative I could rely on until I could visit my doctor to look at my pain plan.
â€˜How it helps is by reducing my awareness and sensitivity to the pain I suffer. Iâ€™m able to do things and Iâ€™m not need to worry about if my feet are in pain. Coincidentally, it also helps with my insomnia, so itâ€™s two birds with one stone.
â€˜What I would like people to know Iâ€™m merely just trying to live my life like they are. Pain-free and as fulfilling as possible.â€™
Alex, 30, started smoking weed recreationally as a teenager.
A few years back she was diagnosed with endometriosis. It took years to get a proper diagnosis for it.
Her GP suggested different things to help with pain, but they all made her physically sick.
She used to smoke around the time of diagnosis to help with the pain, and later realised it was the best thing.
She said: â€˜It actually allowed me to be more active as the pain was genuinely numbed. It helped with my mentality as well.
â€˜It gave me a bigger picture of things and helped me out of my slumps when the pain, lack of motivation, and physically unable to do things was getting me down.
â€˜Thereâ€™s too big a stigma on cannabis still. People donâ€™t bother to read new research as a lot of peopleâ€™s minds are made up already, sadly.
â€˜If they understood the true structure of cannabis and how it can be used to help they would understand its benefits.â€™
Danielle, 27, says she started smoking weed because she was on a high dose of morphine.
She said: â€˜I knew someone who also smokes it, who recommended I tried it for my chronic bowel disease and chronic pain.
â€˜It also helps my sleep paralysis â€“ now I donâ€™t get it at all.
â€˜I feel naturally calmer from it. The side effects are nowhere near as horrible as morphine. Iâ€™ve cut my morphine intake massively. I was taking 35mg a day but now Iâ€™m only on 15-20mg.
â€˜I would like people to understand that people smoke weed for certain illnesses because itâ€™s a natural way of relieving someoneâ€™s pain and it genuinely helps me.â€™
Online prescribing doctor service says: â€˜Medical cannabis is an umbrella term that encompasses any cannabis-based product thatâ€™s used to relieve symptoms of some conditions.
â€˜Medical cannabis is already used in some circumstances to treat muscle spasticity in patients with MS, which suggests that it may also be useful with other chronic or painful conditions, especially if it involves the muscles.
â€˜The psychoactive effects and muscle-relaxant properties of the cannabis plant may well help patients that suffer with chronic conditions, but itâ€™s still incredibly difficult to obtain a prescription in the UK.
â€˜There are several methods of using medical cannabis, but those that are able to access it already often ingest it as an oil or oral spray, with some people preferring to vaporise the raw ingredient.â€™