Marijuana: The Good and The Bad
With the acceptance of marijuana rising fast in many countries, it’s crucial to find out the pros and cons that marijuana brings along.
Increased social support for the use of marijuana as a medication, paired with widening knowledge on the growing opioid addiction, has led more people to use it for common ailments. Back pain, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder are some of the more commonly treated conditions.
Cancer patients use it to curb nausea, vomiting, and pain associated with treatment. It even is being used to prevent seizures in pediatric patients with seizure disorders.
But is marijuana better than other drugs?
How effective is it at treating these conditions? Should users be concerned about the purported side effects linked to marijuana? What about its link to psychosis, anxiety, and testicular cancer? Explore these commonly asked questions on marijuana use in this article.
1. Marijuana Can Help to Reduce Anxiety and PTSD
Smoking weed has relaxing effects. Studies conclude that cannabis is suitable for people with anyone suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety.
However, researchers are yet to determine the most appropriate delivery methods and dosages.
CBD or cannabidiol is currently trending and has some incredible benefits for people looking for an alternative to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol; a psychoactive ingredient). Read about the benefits of CBD here.
2. Marijuana Can Help Reduce Nausea and Chronic Pain
Pain relief is one of the reasons why marijuana is becoming popular to consume.
A study done by Mark Ware, MD included 21 men and women, median age of 45. All the participants had some kind of chronic nerve pain and were given 3 different potencies of cannabis.
The participants were to say where their pain was on a scale of 0 to 10, being the worst pain. Many of them reported it was at 5.4 using the highest potency of cannabis at 9.4% THC.
Many cancer patients suffer from nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy. Preclinical research shows that cannabis is an effective substance used to reduce nausea and vomiting produced by chemotherapy and other therapeutic treatments.
3. Marijuana Can Be Helpful to People with Epilepsy
This study was overall successful because children and young adults that were given CBD decreased in the frequency of seizures from 12.4 to 5.9 per month.
CBD oil that the researchers used in this study was approved in 2018 by the FDA and released to the market as “Epidiolex”. However, this marijuana product can’t make you high as it does not contain THC.
4. Marijuana Can be a Safer Alternative to Opioids
Despite the common belief that marijuana is a gateway drug, research shows that using medical marijuana is a better alternative to opiods.
Here’s why! Studies show opioids don’t work on chronic pain. The reason why we don’t know marijuana will work on everybody, is because it’s not prescribed by more doctors. Why not? Because a lot of doctors are beginning to figure this out, yet there’s not a lot of information out there.
Opioid abuse costs us $78 billion a year, and only 1% of the $78 billion is spent to support cannabis research. Mind Blown!
5. Marijuana May Have Anti-Cancer Effects
A study done in 2017 involved a group of cancer patients to smoke, ingest, or vape cannabis.
Active users reported to do marijuana because of stomach pain and stress.
More than ¼ of the patients said that they believe marijuana was treating their cancer. Although there was a small percentage of patients that reported progress in the use of marijuana, there is still limited information of cannabis use in oncology.
6. Marijuana May Relieve Arthritis
Gregory Gerdeman, a former assistant biology professor at Eckerd College, says that patient reports show marijuana can reduce inflammation and pain in rheumatism.
It may also promote sleep, which can help in relieving discomfort.
Researchers working in rheumatology units at different hospitals gave some patients Sativex (a pain-relieving medicine containing cannabis), to see what would happen after two weeks. After the two weeks, patients reported that their pain had significantly reduced which helped them get more quality sleep.
1. Marijuana Can Block Your Memory Formation
Weed has an active ingredient that affects a part of your brain known as the hippocampus and alters how your mind processes information.
Marijuana can affect how your brain forms memories. It can lead to cognitive impairment in adulthood, especially if you continually use it during your adolescence.
If you are really wondering if it affects the brain, then let’s dive into a study done in New Zealand.
It was conducted using IQ test scores over a period of time, ages 13 to 38. Those who were physically dependent to marijuana before the age of 18 had a decrease in IQ by the age of 38. This is because the younger the brain, the more negative impact it has on memory performance.
2. Marijuana Can Mess With Your Balance
The TCH found in cannabis can mess with the cerebellum part of your brain that regulates your balance and posture.
Using marijuana disturbs these areas making you have a hard time talking and walking properly.
Cannabis can also impact your ability to drive. So, you should avoid smoking weed before driving due to lack of proper concentration on the road.
3. Marijuana Can Lead to Panic
While some people use cannabis to treat anxiety-related conditions, its use has been scientifically linked to panic attacks and other anxiety disorders.
In fact, one recent study linked lifetime cannabis use to an increased risk of panic attacks and a lifetime diagnosis of panic disorder.
More often than not, the link between panic and cannabis can be found in the amount that a person uses, either in one sitting or in their daily consumption. The user builds up too much THC in their system, and their body has a difficult time processing it.
About 20 to 30 percent of people who use marijuana for recreational purpose react with intense fear and distrust after using it. These two side effects are among the most common side effects of using weed because of overdose. When an overdose occurs, it is best to keep calm, sleep it off, and wait for time to pass.
Some people are sensitive to THC, and even a small amount can induce panic. Typically, this is due to the way that cannabinoids interact with the chemicals in their brain.
For most patients, the remedy is reducing consumption, but if panic continues, it is recommended that they speak with their physician.
4. Marijuana Can Lead to Psychosis
After a publication from the New York Times linked the use of cannabis to an increased risk of developing psychosis, researchers began to dig deeper into the potential link.
So far, science has not found a definitive link, and cannabis use, in and of itself, does not appear to cause psychosis.
However, the authors did conclude that more investigation should be done on the link between heavy marijuana use and psychosis, particularly as it pertains to the development of schizophrenia.
Patients who use it to treat conditions are advised to avoid heavy use, at least until more data is collected.
5. Marijuana Can Cause Respiratory Diseases
Smoking weed regularly by many people is the major cause of the increased risk of chronic coughs.
A 2014 study exploring the relationship between using cannabis and lung disease, suggests that it’s possible for smoking to cause respiratory problems. This study concludes that there is clear evidence that regular or habitual smoking is harmful and that people should avoid using marijuana in excess.
Although, tobacco is the leading cause of respiratory disease.
6. Marijuana Can Cause Testicular Cancer
Researchers from Canada and Sweden recently managed to link heavy cannabis use to testicular cancer. Data pooled from three other studies also revealed a similar link.
For the purposes of their study, researchers considered heavy use as 50 or more uses during the person’s lifetime. Still, the researchers indicated that the link remains casual.
Male users are encouraged to consider this link, however, especially if they use marijuana on a regular basis, or consume it in large amounts.
Although there isn’t much evidence linking marijuana to an increased risk of any cancer, the National Academies of Sciences has found some evidence that suggests using marijuana results increase of testicular cancer.
Marijuana and Your Health - The Dirty Truth
Like all things, too much marijuana can be bad for your health.
Yet, if used responsibly and for legitimate conditions, it offers fewer side effects than most of the current, traditional medications used to treat serious conditions like cancer, post traumatic stress disorder, and musculoskeletal disorders.
If it happens to be your drug of choice, talk to your doctor before adding it to your treatment regimen. Understand the risks and symptoms of overuse, and cease treatment if you start to notice them. Above all, use it responsibly, just like you would any other drug or mind-altering substances.