Marijuana, or cannabis, is more widely known as a recreational drug; however, there are further debates around its usage in the United States on a cultural and legal level.
Recent research shows that a majority of Americans (about 85 percent) support the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use. However, some researchers and lawmakers require more scientific evidence of the benefits of marijuana.
Marijuana has been used as medicine for centuries. Still, only a few institutions in the U.S. have supported medical cannabis programs. Eleven states and Washington D.C. permit the use of cannabis for adults.
There are several advantages and disadvantages to the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, and we’re here to uncover some of the most notable ones.
How Does Cannabis Work?
Cannabis contains two ingredients: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
- The THC component of cannabis is a mind-altering ingredient. As reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over the past years, the amount of THC has gradually increased from 3.7 percent in the 1990s to 9.6 percent in 2013. Some of the effects of THC are increased appetite, nausea, reduced pain and inflammations, and insomnia.
- CBD functions similarly to the chemicals that the body makes for appetite, memory, pain, and movement. Unlike THC, CBD is non-impairing and non-euphoric, so it does not get you “high” as THC does. Patients who take in medical marijuana with CBD-dominant strains report only a little, if any, alteration in their consciousness.
Note that your body already makes marijuana-like chemicals that are related to health concerns like pain and inflammation. According to Laura Borgelt, PharmD from the University of Colorado, marijuana helps in improving how these natural chemicals work.
What are the Benefits of Marijuana?
Medical marijuana is used to relieve the symptoms of most diseases but not to cure them entirely. Thus, using it alone will not change the outcome of a particular disease. By relieving your symptoms, you can feel better and continue to be functional.
If you’re wondering what the benefits of marijuana are, there’s more than meets the eye. Some of the uses of marijuana in the medical field are:
Treating pain is one of the common uses of medical marijuana. More specifically, it is most effective for chronic pain. Marijuana also relieves pain from multiple sclerosis, and in general, nerve pain.
Nausea Treatment and Appetite Improvement
Marijuana is also used to manage nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy. It also aids in stimulating appetite and improving weight gain in patients with chronic illnesses like HIV.
Control Seizures and Treat Mental Health Conditions
Due to its effects on the limbic system, doctors can also prescribe marijuana to treat neurological and mental health conditions like anxiety, schizophrenia, PTSD, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Tourette syndrome.
Medical marijuana can also be used to treat glaucoma, muscle spasms, inflammation, pain and wasting syndrome, Chrohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. It is used as a muscle relaxant for people with MS, and it has been proven to kill cancer cells and slow tumor growth. Plus, its relaxing effect helps to improve sleep.
Is Medical Marijuana Bad for Your Health?
Despite marijuana’s promising benefits, concerns arise due to the potential risks that come with its use. It has possible side effects, which include (but are not limited to):
- Short-term memory loss
- Mild hallucinations
- Depressant effects
What’s the Next Step?
If you happen to live in a state where medical marijuana is legal, you may reach out and ask your doctor how to get a medical marijuana card. They can guide you on the legalities, depending on where you live. Note that only individuals with this card are allowed to use medical marijuana. Doctors will not issue one to you if you are:
- Below 18 years old
- Have a history of psychosis
- With Heart Disease
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