Marijuana Could Be Huge for Treating HIV

From inflammation to lowering levels of the virus itself, a current study hopes to demystify pot's benefits for those living with HIV.

By Steven Blum |

For too long, conducting legitimate research on the medical benefits of marijuana was all but impossible. Kept out of the hands of doctors and scientists by an overzealous DEA, pot is still classified by the federal government as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act—the strictest category available. This makes funding and access to research-grade, federally legal cannabis hard to come by; even in states where marijuana is legal, studies on the drug are still subject to approval by multiple boards, and samples must be procured from the only lab in the country approved to dispense research-grade marijuana.

Nonetheless, a burgeoning field of researchers have emerged to investigate the plant’s medicinal properties. Cannabis has shown promise in treating addictionPTSDchronic painbrain disease and a slew of other medical conditions—and there is now cautious hope that pot may be useful in treating HIV, by helping to block HIV’s entry into cells, reduce chronic inflammation and prevent neurocognitive disorders that can occur as a result of HIV infection.

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