Even though there has been plenty of research work conducted regarding the benefits of marijuana for the human body, it still remains a plant that is widely misunderstood. The situation is a lot better than it used to be though, with more and more US states legalising marijuana for medical use. There is still a lot that needs to be done, however, the most important of which might be the need for further research.
The lack of research can be attributed to the fact that the DEA still labels marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, which makes it harder to openly study this plant. Despite all of the hindrances, the benefits of medical cannabis are being accepted more widely. This raises some questions about the plant for many people, so let’s answer some of the most commonly asked ones.
What is medical marijuana?
Medical marijuana, or medical cannabis, is a term used to specify marijuana that is used for medicinal purposes. There is essentially no difference between recreational cannabis and medical cannabis. Rather, it’s the purpose behind its consumption that gives it one of those names. Among more than 100 cannabinoids and a vast number of compounds found in the cannabis plant, the two primary ones are CBD and THC. It is THC that creates the sensation of being high that is associated with the consumption of cannabis.
What are the uses of medical marijuana?
When it comes to medical marijuana benefits, there are quite a lot of them. Even though the FDA has approved weed only for treating Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome – two very severe types of epilepsy – people utilize the health benefits of marijuana for many other conditions.
What does medical marijuana treat?
The list of conditions that can be treated with cannabis to some extent is still growing. Here are some of the most common ones being studied by researchers in this regard:
- Chronic pain
- PTSD and similar conditions
- Crohn’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Lack of appetite
- Multiple sclerosis
However, it must be noted that no conclusive research has yet shown whether there are any benefits of weed in relation to such diseases. The most common medical marijuana’s uses remain the treatment of chronic pain, vomiting, nausea, etc.
How does it work?
Again, the benefits of weed are still being studied so it’s a little soon to say just how it may be able to help treat medical conditions. However, it has been found that the cannabinoids found in the plant are similar to the human body’s own chemicals that are associated with memory, pain, appetite, and movement. These cannabinoids are, therefore, suggested to help by:
- Reducing anxiety and stress
- Reducing inflammation
- Keeping control over vomiting that may be caused by chemotherapy
- Stimulating hunger
Can medical marijuana help in treating seizures?
Research has suggested that one of medical marijuana’s uses is the treatment of seizures. In fact, the FDA approved a drug named Epidiolex back in 2018, which is developed from CBD. This medication is helpful against severe seizures and patients have reported a significant drop in their seizures while consuming it.
Does medical marijuana have side effects?
Like pretty much any medication out there, cannabis can also come with side effects. However, these are usually much less severe than some you may experience by taking artificial medications. The most common side effects of weed include:
- Increased heart rate
- Bloodshot eyes
- Low blood pressure
Perhaps one of the most commonly cited side effects of weed is that it can be a gateway drug for many people. This means that irresponsible use of cannabis can lead to addiction, which can then open the door to other drugs that are more harmful. The more THC you consume, the more you risk becoming addicted to it.
There is also a risk that smoking weed can lead to lung issues. Even though such risks are not yet proven to exist, some research has shown that smoking weed can lead to an increased risk of developing bronchitis.
And since cannabis can make you high, it may also lead to a lack of coordination which can cause some injury if it is taken irresponsibly. That is why it’s always recommended to get the health benefits of marijuana under the advice of a doctor.
How to get medical marijuana?
As long as you live in a state where medical cannabis is legal, you can get it at any dispensary near you. You can visit the Connected dispensary in Sacramento, for example, and get the product you need. However, you do need to have a doctor’s prescription or written recommendation for marijuana in order to buy it. You should also read up on your state’s laws and regulations concerning the ownership and use of cannabis for medicinal reasons, as these can vary quite a lot between states. For example, some states might require you to have a medical marijuana ID before you can purchase some weed.
David Tobin did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.