States around the country as of now 33 of them, plus Washington DC have legalized medical marijuana. Many of them fighting to push the recreational side of things next.
Many United States citizens support the legalization of medical marijuana. At least the mid 80% tile of the US population feels the plant should be legal for medical uses, and recreational weed usage is less controversial than ever, with at least the low 60% of Americans in support.
Even though some medical benefits of smoking pot may be overstated by advocates of marijuana legalization, recent research has demonstrated that there are legitimate medical uses for marijuana and strong reasons to continue studying the drug’s medicinal uses. Even the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse lists medical uses for cannabis.
There are at least two active chemicals in marijuana that researchers think have medicinal applications. Those are cannabidiol (CBD) which seems to impact the brain without a high and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which has pain relieving properties and is largely responsible for the high.
Many scientists still say that limitations on marijuana research means we still have big questions about its medicinal properties. In addition to CBD and THC, there are another 300 plus or so chemical compounds, more than 50 of which are cannabinoids. Many of these could have medical uses. But without more study and trials, we won’t know how to best make use of these compounds.
More research would also determine potential side effects of marijuana. Even if there are legitimate uses for medicinal marijuana, that doesn’t mean all use is harmless. Some research indicates that chronic, heavy users may have impaired memory, learning, and processing speed, especially if they started regularly using marijuana before age 15. For some of the following health benefits, there’s solid evidence. For others, there’s reason to continue conducting studies and clinical research.
A recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said there was definitive evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids (which are found in the marijuana plant) can be an effective treatment for chronic pain.
There’s a fair amount of evidence that marijuana does not harm to the lungs, unless you also smoke tobacco. One study published in Journal of the American Medical Association found that not only does marijuana not impede lung function as some say it may even increase lung capacity.
It’s possible that the increased lung capacity may be due to taking a deep breaths while inhaling the drug and not from a therapeutic chemical in the drug.
The smokers in that study only puffed a few times every 30 days, but a more recent survey of people who smoked pot daily for up to 2 decades found no evidence that smoking cannabis hurt their lungs either.
The National Academies report said there are good studies showing marijuana users are not more likely to have cancers associated with smoking.
One of the most common reasons that states allow medical marijuana use is to treat and prevent the eye diseases such as glaucoma, which increases pressure in the eyeball, damaging the optic nerve and causing blindness.
CBD may help prevent cancer from spreading, researchers in San Francisco reported in 2007. Other very preliminary studies on aggressive brain tumors in mice or cell cultures have shown that THC and CBD can slow or shrink tumors at the right dose, which is a strong reason to do more research. One 2014 study found that marijuana can significantly slow the growth of the type of brain tumor associated with 80% of malignant brain cancer in people. Still, these findings in cell cultures and animals don’t necessarily mean the effect will translate to people far more investigation is needed.
Marijuana may be able to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a study of the Scripps Research Institute suggests. The study, published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, found that THC (the active chemical in marijuana) slows the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that makes them. These plaques kill brain cells and are associated with Alzheimer’s. A synthetic mixture of CBD and THC seems to preserve memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study suggested that a THC-based prescription drug called dronabinol was able to reduce behavioral disturbances in dementia patients. All these studies are in very early stages, though, so m re research is needed.
The miracle plant may ease painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. A person studied 25 multiple sclerosis patients with painful contractions in their muscles. These patients didn’t respond to other treatments, but after smoking marijuana for a few days, they reported that they were in less pain. The THC in marijuana seems to bind to receptors in the nerves and muscles to relieve pain.
Treatment for hepatitis C infection is harsh: negative side effects include fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and depression. Those side effects can last for months, and lead many people to stop their treatment course early. But a 2006 study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that mid 80% of patients using marijuana successfully completed their Hep C therapy. Just under 30% of non-smokers completed their treatment, possibly because the marijuana helps lessen the treatment’s side effects. Marijuana also seems to improve the treatment’s effectiveness: Mid 50% of hep C patients smoking marijuana got their viral levels low and kept them low, in comparison to only close to 10% of nonsmokers.
This is a complicated one, because it involves effects that can be both positive and negative. Marijuana disturbs sleep cycles by interrupting the later stages of REM sleep. In the long run, this could be a problem for frequent users. However, for people suffering from serious nightmares, especially those associated with Anxiety, this can be helpful, perhaps in the short term. Nightmares and other dreams occur during those same stages of sleep. By interrupting REM sleep, many of those dreams may not occur. Research into using a synthetic cannabinoid similar to THC but not the same showed a significant decrease in the number of nightmares in patients with Anxiety. Additionally, even if frequent use can be bad for sleep, marijuana may be a better sleep aid than some other substances that people use. Some of those, including medication and alcohol, may potentially have worse effects on sleep, though more research is needed on the topic.
Marijuana is safer than alcohol. That’s not to say it’s risk-free, but cannabis is much less addictive than alcohol and doesn’t cause nearly as much physical damage. Disorders like alcoholism involve disruptions in the endocannabinoid system. Because of that, some people think cannabis might help patients struggling with those disorders. Research published in the Harm Reduction Journal found that some people use marijuana as a less harmful option to alcohol, prescription drugs, and other illegal drugs. Some of the most common reasons patients make that substitution are that marijuana has less negative side effects and is less likely to cause withdrawal problems. Some people do become psychologically dependent on marijuana, and it is not a cure for substance abuse problems. But from a harm-reduction standpoint, it can help. Still, it’s worth noting that combining marijuana and alcohol can be dangerous, and some researchers are concerned that this scenario is more likely than one in which users substitute a puff for a drink.
If you or someone you know is interested in the medical benefits of medical marijuana, please contact All Natural Health Certifications Florida today. Our medical marijuana doctors are board certified and able to issue you a medical marijuana card approval quickly and easily. Come visit us at one of our many locations in Florida or call our office (800) 303-9916. We have locations in Orlando, Tampa, Lakeland, Clermont, Lakewood Ranch and more. Get Started today.