"Because it's a drug that makes people feel good, marketers want to put medical claims on it," says Bill London, a professor of public health at California State University in Los Angeles and a health claim watchdog. London has no problem with legalization, but says many medical claims for marijuana "are false or exaggerated" and "should not be tolerated."
The website Cannabis.org, started by GrowLife and carries the tagline "Cannabis is Medicine," lists 17 major diseases that cannabis can treat, including Alzheimer's, cancer, and diabetes.
Some of the chemicals in marijuana have been tested thoroughly and found to effectively treat some conditions, such as reducing nausea and stimulating appetite in patients undergoing chemotherapy. These or other chemicals in pot may someday be found to be effective in treating other diseases — or they could be found to be dangerous in ways not yet understood. Scientists simply don't know yet.
A Colorado company called Dixie Elixirs sells pot in pill form called "scrips" — short for "prescription." These pills allow users to manage both their ups and downs, despite the same amount of pot in each pill, with additives like ashwagandha root. "Awakening Scrips" are said to provide a "stimulating sensation," while "Relaxing Scrips" are said to "reduce mental and physical stress and promote relaxation."
Joe Hodas, chief marketing officer at Dixie Elixirs, says the company is careful to not make specific medical claims about its products. "It's the regulatory framework that forces businesses to sell (marijuana) as medicine because that's the only way it's legal (in most states)," he says.
In a marketing pitch for one pot-based product, called Foria, a woman identified as "Anna, 29" says: "Foria is potent medicine and the most healing way I have ever used cannabis." It's not clear that Anna had a medical problem, though. The product is a pot-based lubricant for women, designed to increase sexual pleasure by delivering a high through their private parts.
AP Writers Kristen Wyatt in Denver and Gene Johnson in Seattle contributed to this story. Jonathan Fahey can be reached at http://twitter.com/JonathanFahey .