For most of us, marijuana, weed, pot, dope and ganja are names associated with ‘potheads’ and other drug users. We frown upon their choice of poison and hold a firm belief that they won’t last long in the world. Opinion is shifting, however, not on street-grade marijuana but marijuana grown in tightly controlled environments.
Why the change? And is there real reason to believe marijuana, that weed so scorned upon by non-users, could actually have benefits to health? Yes, say advocates of the herb and an increasing number of medical professionals who’ve realized its true potential.
Street vs medical marijuana
It’s true, marijuana sold in the streets as a recreational drug is dangerous. Before it’s marketed, it’s heavily adulterated to increase potency. A few inhalations of a ‘joint’ can have very powerful effects on the mind. This makes it easier for drug dealers to turn over a profit as the more potent the substance, the higher a price they can command.
On the other hand, marijuana cultivated by licensed growers has a very different composition. It contains no lead, no additional drugs like methamphetamines and has a lower potency than the adulterated kind. This enables it to be consumed without the effects produced by adulterated content. Of course, dosage matters but patients who rely on marijuana treat it like a medicine and not as a recreational drug. Moreover, consuming it legally also means that usage can be monitored by medical professionals.
Benefits of medical marijuana
Medical marijuana is a known aid of palliative care especially in patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, Crohn’s disease and migraines. It’s also a great suppressor of nausea as certain receptors in the brain facilitate the production of lipids after coming into contact with cannabis. A feel of euphoria is produced which helps dull pain, nausea and some other symptoms the body would otherwise react to.
Where street marijuana is almost always smoked, medical marijuana is typically delivered in pill form. This is a preferred method for non-smokers or for patients fearful of increasing their risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or lung cancer. Incidentally, there’s no clear consensus on whether smoking marijuana increases the risk of developing the same.
Dangers of addiction?
For long, it was believed that marijuana was a very addictive substance. It is addictive to a degree but far less than nicotine and even caffeine are. In fact, a 1994 study showed that only 9 percent of one-time marijuana users became addicted eventually. Comparatively, those who tried smoking or a similar nicotine delivery method saw 32 percent of people becoming addicted. That’s a huge gap and one that leads us to wonder whether much of the negativity surrounding medical marijuana is true.
What’s important to understand is that cannabis dependence is determined by several factors, the weed itself being only one. Young, frequent users, poor parenting and a poor family life, association with drug-using peers, dropping out of school and easy access to the substance are contributory factors. Since medical marijuana is administered under strict control, the chance of having patients becoming addicted isn’t high especially if they’re older adults.
Opinion may still be divided on the benefits of marijuana but patients who’ve used it to alleviate pain and discomfort testify to its healing properties. It’s only a matter of time before states realize this and for those that have, they’ve helped pave the way for a revival of this wonder drug.
With the increasing popularity of medical marijuana, more and more people are choosing to smoke pot on a regular basis. In this video, Dr. Malcolm Smith, a naturopathic physician uncovers the disturbing secondary actions of cannabis of which most people are not aware. Increased anxiety, sleeplessness, lack of motivation, and a disconnection from one’s spiritual nature are just a few of the ways marijuana may negatively impact those who use it.