What is Medical Marijuana?
Many states in the US including the District of Columbia have seen the legalization of medical marijuana come to reality and many more are in the process of doing so. While many people across different states use cannabis, the FDA has only approved it for the treatment of a few medical conditions. In Canada, marijuana can easily be accessed through offline and online marijuana stores that have become popular since the country became the first wealthy country to attain its legalization.
What is medical marijuana? It is the use of the cannabis plant, whether in whole or extract, to treat illnesses or other conditions that may affect the human body. It is basically recreational cannabis but in this case, it is used for medical purposes. The plant has many different chemicals, with each having different effects on the human body. The main chemicals in the plant that are used for medical purposes are cannabidiol (CBD) and Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), with the latter causing “high” in people when smoked or taken in other forms. These chemicals are active in the flowers, buds, and leaves of the cannabis plant. They are also active it the extracts of these parts of the plant. Medical marijuana can help in the treatment of symptoms such as lack of appetite, nausea, and pain. In addition, it can be used in the treatment of many other conditions including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma, PTSD, schizophrenia, anorexia, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, and cachexia. These are serious conditions that affect the human body. However, marijuana has proven effective in addressing them.
While medical marijuana is only approved in the treatment of a few disorders and you can buy it in limited number of online dispensaries like Buds2Go, the plant has been used to alleviate the pain that comes with a number of conditions described above. The vomiting and nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy can be addressed with cannabis. For patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, smoking pot has shown to help improve food intake. Perhaps one of the most important uses of the psychotic drug in the medical field is the alleviation of pain. The plant and its extract are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to traditional medications for pain. It is important to recognize that people suffering from conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer normally experience chronic pain. The plant has proved useful in addressing the chronic pain associated with these diseases.
What strain is best suited for the management of chronic pain? The main strains of cannabis include sativa, indica, and hybrid. Indica strains are preferred for sedation, pain management, as well as improving sleep. Sativa, on the other hand, raises one’s mood and improves energy. Therefore, indica strains can be used to manage chronic pain associated with illnesses. When the THC in the plant is consumed either through smoking or ingestion, the cannabinoid receptors in the brain are stimulated and consequently, the pain levels decline.
Although medical marijuana is not approved for many conditions, it has proven useful in addressing the symptoms associated with them. The plant and its extracts are extremely important for medical purposes, and as more states and countries are approving its use, more benefits are bound to be realized.
How does marijuana work on the brain?
Marijuana’s active ingredient, THC, is the dominant chemical that affects the brain. THC is a cannabinoid, which implies that it has the ability to alter the release of neurotransmitter in the brain. In fact, THC has similar effects with the naturally produced anandamide, which is produced by the brain to maintain a health system by controlling memory, sleep, and mood, among others. Specifically, THC affects the neurons, which are the brain cells responsible for information processing. These neurons are in turn controlled by neurotransmitters, which essentially facilitate communication between the neurons. However, given that THC has similar abilities with anandamide, it can either imitate or temporarily block anandamide and work in its place, thus disrupting the normal functioning of the brain. This is why immediately after smoking or consuming cannabis, users usually feel a sense of relaxation, which after a while can be replaced by paranoia. THC is an external chemical and even though it acts the same way as internally produced brain chemicals, it disrupts normal functioning because its presence in the body is usually uncalled for and uncontrolled by the brain.
THC has also been linked to short-term memory impairment. This is because it affects the part of the brain responsible for memory formation, which is known as the hippocampus. The hippocampus contains many cannabinoid receptors, which can be affected by THC. When this happens, the brain is unable to form a memory of recent events, especially those that take place when consuming marijuana. THC causes an overload in the hippocampus, thus affecting its ability to perform cognitive functions such as learning. Clearly, there is a reason why it is not advisable to study while under the influence of THC.
Other than the hippocampus, THC also affects the functionality of the cerebellum and basal ganglia, which are essential brain parts responsible for coordination, movement, and balance. Cannabinoid such as THC affects the brain by producing catalepsy and hypo-activity results and when consumed in high doses they can inhibit movement and control of the body by the brain. Cannabis effects on the brain are also felt in the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls emotional responses. THC acts by modifying amygdala such that the emotional response of an individual is slowed. Thus emotions such as excitement, or panic, may take longer to show when someone is under the influence of THC. In addition, THC also interferes with the functioning of the hypothalamus and the pain receptors. This is why the plant has been used in the management of pain, especially for cancer patients.
In summary, THC works on the brain by imitating the naturally produced brain cannabinoids so that the brain is able to activate the neurotransmitters without realizing that the cannabinoids are foreign. The imitation is, however, temporary, and that is why the feeling of relaxation, among others, only lasts for a short while. THC also interferes with the brain functioning by altering some of the major brain parts, either by blocking or overloading those parts.
What effects can marijuana have?
How does marijuana affect you? This is a common question which should focus on both the good and the bad effects of marijuana. Cannabis produces pleasant feelings once it is absorbed in the bloodstream. It has been associated with a sense of relaxation and a state of extreme happiness. This is because THC targets all the brain’s pleasure points, just like alcohol and other illegal drugs, thus giving you a feeling of “high”. However, once the pleasant feelings have gone down, you might experience feelings of panic, paranoia or/ and anxiety. Further, marijuana affects the brain’s pain receptors. As such, an individual is not able to feel pain due to the numbing effect of THC on the pain receptors. This effect can be good or bad, depending on the situation. For instance, the use of cannabis to manage pain in chronic ailment is good because there is nothing else the patient can do to control the pain. However, the inability to feel pain while under the influence can also be negative, especially in a situation that calls for the user to avoid the pain. Another cannabis effect on the body is an increase in the heart rate. Once THC gets into the bloodstream, the heartbeat rate can increase by up to 50 beats per minute due to the vasodilation effect of THC.
There are other weed side effects such as short-term memory loss and limitation in learning. This is because weed affects that part of the brain that is responsible for memory formation and concentration. The inability to concentrate can affect a person’s ability to learn from new experiences. With this also comes the issue of difficulty in solving problems or thinking through situations that require attention and analysis. However, the person is able to return to normal functioning after a while. Consuming the psychotic drug can also lead to loss of coordination, movement and body control. As mentioned earlier, THC affects the part of the brain that is responsible for body motor and as such, it can impair movement. It can also slow the ability to perform activities that require extreme coordination, such as playing tennis.
Cannabis has also been associated with a condition, termed as munchies, in which users of marijuana tend to eat a lot after consuming the drug. This condition is as a result of THC activating the hormone that causes the body to feel hunger and instruct the brain to increase your appetite. However, THC can influence the brain and make you feel hungry, even when your stomach is not empty, because THC is a foreign chemical that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. Finally, marijuana addiction can cause changes in an individual’s personality and their ability to reason and make a sound judgment. As a consequence of these changes, individuals can start engaging in risky behaviors such as unsafe sex and even the use of other drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Even individuals who are generally risk-averse can start taking risks due to a change in personality as a result of chronic marijuana use.
What are the health effects of marijuana?
Marijuana usage also has some health effects, some of which are negative and others positive. The positive health effects of weed include a relief from glaucoma, which is an eye condition that can cause blindness if left unchecked. However, this relief is not long-lasting, which means that a glaucoma patient will need to use weed regularly. Further, weed consumption has been associated with slowing the growth of a tumor. Studies have shown that THC prevents the formation of new blood cells which cause the growth of a cancerous tumor. Thus, without new blood cells, the cancerous cells eventually die. This is one of the several uses of medical marijuana. It also helps in reducing nausea, especially for cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy. Marijuana has also been known to reduce muscle spasms and as such, it has been used to treat patients with multiple sclerosis.
The negative effects of weed on health are many. First, weed consumption has been associated with a weak immune system. A weaker immune system implies that one is more susceptible to diseases, making THC a dangerous chemical. Second, marijuana has been linked to the same health problem that tobacco smokers experience, such as bronchitis and asthma. THC increases the production of phlegm and subsequent coughing, which are also common among tobacco smokers. Weed smokers are also susceptible to lung infections and other acute chest discomfort and diseases. Third, cannabis negatively affects the reproductive system for both male and female. For males, it can reduce the level of sperm production, which could lead to a low sperm count. For females, marijuana can interfere with their menstrual cycle, and such irregularities can give rise to problems when trying to conceive.
In addition, the use of marijuana while pregnant also affects the development of the fetus. Fourth, incidents of stroke and heart attacks are high among users of marijuana. Some studies have shown that using marijuana increases the likelihood of suffering from a stroke and a heart attack by at least 20% and 10% respectively. This can be attributed to the vasodilation effect of THC, which decreases the blood pressure and increases the heart rate. Fifth, marijuana use among teenagers has some negative effects on the development of the brain. This is attributed to the fact that marijuana interferes with some parts of the brain such as those responsible for cognitive functioning. This is risky given that at adolescence, the brain has not yet fully developed and any interference can cause the brain to shrink. If the brain shrinks before it is fully developed, it can affect the memory and thought process. Further, marijuana use in adolescent has also been linked to reduced brain activity.
Other mental health effects related to cannabis include feelings of anxiety, depression, and insomnia. There is also a possibility of developing marijuana use disorder, despite the belief that weed is not addictive. In fact, people usually experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and loss of appetite. Weighing the positive and negative effects of weed reveal that marijuana is bad.
What are the different ways you can take marijuana and how do they affect you?
There are many ways to consume cannabis and users can choose what works for them depending on the availability of apparatus and the effect they intend to achieve. It can be taken through inhalation, orally, topical application, or sublingual uptake.
Inhalation is the most commonly used method of taking cannabis. When one inhales marijuana, the cannabinoids enter the body via the lungs and directly into their bloodstream. The inhalation of marijuana allows the user to feel its effect almost instantaneously. When inhaled for medicinal purposes, the inhalation allows the user to feel the medication effects within minutes. This is not the only benefit that comes with using the inhalation method. This method also prevents overconsumption as one is able to stop the use once they feel the effects. However, it is important to note that experiencing the effects of marijuana depends on the cannabinoid content, the inhalation style, as well as one’s tolerance.
The inhalation of the plant can be done through either smoking or vaporizing. While smoking has traditionally characterized the way marijuana is inhaled, the advances in vaporizing technology have given users alternative methods with fewer health concerns. Many health professionals agree that smoke-free ways of consuming pot pose less health to the user. Individuals that choose to smoke marijuana have at their disposal many devices including hookahs, rolling papers, hand pipes, and water pipes. Vaporizing is almost similar to smoking, the only difference being the heating of marijuana as opposed to burning it. It is for this reason that vaporizing is considered healthier as it saves the throat and the lungs the pain that comes with exposure to heat. It is important to note, however, that there are no scientific studies that have shown smoking cannabis to be worse for your health compared to vaporizing.
Cannabis can also be consumed orally in the form of capsules, tinctures, edibles, or oils. When consumed orally, it takes at least 30 minutes for users start feeling its effects. However, peak effects are normally felt after approximately two hours. Therefore, oral consumption of cannabis tends to take longer for the effect to be felt compared to inhalation. The effect also lasts longer. Edibles are foods that contain marijuana and they can be prepared in many ways depending on the food. Popular marijuana-infused edibles include chocolate bars, drinks, candy, brownies, snacks, among many more. Tinctures refer to liquid marijuana that can be consumed by users, with alcohol being the most commonly used solvent. Marijuana can also be taken orally in the form of capsules and oils that have concentrates of cannabinoids.
Tropical application of marijuana involves the administration of cannabis extract to the skin through various forms including oils, lotions, and bath salts. This method allows the cannabinoids to penetrate through one’s skin and act on inflammation and pain.
Finally, marijuana can also be consumed through sublingual uptake. In this case, decarboxylated marijuana is placed under one’s tongue, where the tissues are rich in blood vessels. This allows the cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream directly. It is the preferred treatment method for many cancer patients.
Can marijuana lead use to harder drugs?
Although there are assumptions and hypotheses about cannabis consumption leading to the use of harder substances, there is no solid proof to back up the claims. The issue remains controversial as some researchers support the claim while others refute it. There are, however explanations that explain how the consumption of cannabis may lead to one using harder drugs.
When one is exposed to cannabis consumption at young age, other substances may become appealing to them as they grow up. Animal scientists conducted an experiment where they exposed young rodents to marijuana; the rodents had a higher affinity to opium (a hard drug) in their adulthood compared to the rodents that were not exposed to the drug at their adolescent age. This research translates to human beings as some studies have shown that most adult hard substance users started with gateway drugs like cannabis. It provides an illusion of a safe psychoactive experience that makes users want to try other hard drugs in the future. Early exposure of marijuana to adolescents may reduce the reactivity reward centers in the brain late in adulthood increasing their vulnerability of turning to hard drugs for activation and stimulation of their reward centers. Research done proved that adults that used marijuana during their adolescence were prone to have an alcohol use disorder, unlike the adults that did not use marijuana in their adolescence.
The social environment in which one consumes marijuana can also determine whether it can lead to use of harder drugs. Cannabis users are prone to interacting with other hard drug users. Most of marijuana users and hard drug consumers may be friends or even share a common supplier. This interaction of marijuana users with the sellers and users of harder drugs makes them prone to the temptation of trying harder drugs. Studies have explained that most marijuana users exposed to users of hard drugs are easily influenced to try hard drugs compared to individuals that do not use marijuana.
The availability and low-cost nature of cannabis also explains the possibility of users transitioning towards harder drugs. Studies have shown that most cannabis users can use other drugs; they only use marijuana because it is readily available and is cheaper. If they had access and money, they would use the harder drugs. Some people even use pot with hard substances like heroin. Studies have also shown that people who take hard substances start with a drug that is cheap and readily available. Cannabis is readily available due to its increasing legalization in many states and countries lately. This legalization may lead to users consuming other drugs.
Marijuana also tends to increase the urge to experiment on other substances. Trying cannabis elevates the taste and perceived enjoyment of other drugs leading to the urge to try other more intense drugs. Many hard substances users started using them because they wanted to explore more than just marijuana. They want to feel more than they felt when taking cannabis. There is thus a possibility that the use of marijuana may make one use other drugs.