Health claims draw patients as cannabis science catches up

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SEATTLE (AP) — Marijuana has been shown to help ease pain and a few other health problems, yet two-thirds of U.S. states have decided cannabis should be legal to treat many other conditions with little scientific backing.

At least 1.4 million Americans are using marijuana for their health, according to an Associated Press analysis of states that track medical marijuana patients.

The number of medical marijuana cardholders more than tripled in the last five years as more states jumped on the bandwagon. The analysis is based on data from 26 states and the District of Columbia. The total climbs to 2.6 million patients if California, Washington and Maine are included, the AP estimates.

States that expanded the use of medical cannabis for common ailments such as severe pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety saw a boost in enrollment, the AP found.

The U.S. government, meanwhile, both considers marijuana an illegal drug and a therapeutic herb worth more study.

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