The United States has seen a drastic shift in the opinion of medical marijuana and the cannabis industry as a whole within the last twenty years, and changes are being put into effect faster than ever before. There are few subjects that rile up the entire medical industry like marijuana.
The topic inspires questions like, “is it safe, addictive, decriminalized…?” or “can anyone of any age intake it?” or “is it a wonder drug or just a reason to get high?” Let’s break down some of the research and explain what we know so far. Marijuana is legal recreationally for adults in 11 states, and medical marijuana is legal in 33 as of January 2020.
The current statistics show that 85% of Americans now approve of the use of medical marijuana, and approximately 7 million Americans use it for their own medical needs.
Believe it or not, there are medical marijuana products that DON’T induce the high feeling often associated with marijuana use. The most common are CBD-only products. CBD stands for cannabidiol and is an active component in marijuana that doesn’t contribute towards a head-high or red eyes.
The CBD-only products have been reported by patients to assist with chronic pain, epilepsy, insomnia, spasticity, anxiety, and depression. A specific type of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome has been shown to respond very well to CBD-dominant strains of marijuana.
This is amazing news because Big Pharma hasn’t been able to produce a medication that treats the symptoms, as well as marijuana, does. The most common CBD-dominant strain used specifically for Dravet syndrome is a strain called Charlotte’s Web.
Common Uses for Medical Marijuana
The most common use of medical marijuana is for pain. While it isn’t strong enough for severe pain like post-surgical or and untreated broken bone, it is ideal and effective when dealing with chronic pain issues and is perfect for replacing opioids due to its non-addictive nature. It’s impossible to overdose on marijuana and doesn’t have the long-term use of damage that accompanied NSAID’s like Aleve or Advil, which can cause liver damage and ulcers.
Medical Marijuana has shown promising results when treating pain caused by nerve damage like multiple sclerosis. Patients have shared that unlike traditional pharmaceutical medications for these illnesses, marijuana allows them to live normally without the sedating effects of Lyrica, opiates, and Neurontin.
Individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease have shared that marijuana naturally reduces tremors and relaxes muscles without any sleepiness. Some other illnesses sharing success in the medical marijuana industry include fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, and endometriosis. Cancer patients going through chemotherapy have shared that it alleviates the symptoms that come with radiation therapy; marijuana has reduced nausea, weight loss, increases appetite, and even assists in alleviating the depression associated with cancer and cancer treatment.
PTSD in Veterans has been treated with medical marijuana and has shown to lessen the trauma symptoms like insomnia, nightmares, traumatic memory replay, and debilitating anxiety. While this isn’t a fully inclusive list of diseases and ailments medical marijuana can treat, this should simply introduce you to the wide array of uses marijuana has. Medical marijuana required more research to fully understand how it is able to help so many different symptoms and illnesses, and with the overwhelming support of its use, there should be more research on the way. (Peter Grinspoon, 2018)
Marijuana Was a Favorite of Our Ancestors
Marijuana cultivation can be dated back over 6,000 years. Historians estimate that its herbal medicinal use started in Asia around 500 B.C. In America, the history begins as cannabis cultivation during early colonialism and was often used for textiles and rope.
Over the years, due to politics and racial discrimination, it became criminalized and listed as a Schedule I drug by the Federal Government. The government, after criminalizing the drug, misinformed the public claiming it was addictive and forced immoral behavior, which has since been debunked.
The plant, after its initial use in Asia, was introduced to Africa and Europe through trading – it was one of the most popular plants for rope making, clothing, paper, and even sails for boats, and the seeds were a popular snack.
It became the most popular plant for textiles and paper because of its ability to grow fast and adapt to a variety of climates. In the early 1600s in America, the Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia colonies were required to grow hemp to contribute towards textiles and paper.
There is some evidence of ancient cultures using it for its psychoactive properties in ritual ceremonies or healing procedures. Some of the oldest remains of cannabis were found in graves of Chinese and Siberian shamans around 500 B.C.
In America, after years of misinformation, racial discrimination regarding the herb, and Nixon associating the drug with LSD and heroin, California was the first to attempt at using marijuana medicinally for the people of its state.
California passed the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which allowed individuals with severe chronic illnesses to use marijuana medically. Since 1996 many states have opened to allow medical and/or recreational use of marijuana, but when it comes to the federal government, it is still considered a Schedule 1 drug, which sparks controversial debate due to the inconsistency between federal and state laws.
What Does Marijuana Feel Like?
Marijuana can be consumed in a variety of different ways, including vaping, smoking (from bongs or pipes), eating, or topically applying it to the skin. How it is used depends on how it was prepared. When entering a dispensary, you’ll notice a large variety of products which allows the user to intake it; however, they most prefer.
Vape cartridges are accompanied with a battery pack and charging cable – you hold down a button while inhaling, and it produce a vapor carrying the CBD and/or THC to the lungs. When smoking marijuana, often times the “flower” or “bud” (raw plant material) is grinded down and packed into the bowl of a pipe, end of a one-hitter bat, or rolled into paper similar to a cigarette, lit on fire and inhaled into the lungs.
Anything inhaled into the lungs posts similar problems to cigarette smoking; you’re inhaling the burnt plant material which could potentially be carrying carcinogens from the lighter or match. When eating medical marijuana products, they’ll be prepared into brownies, cookies, candies of all sorts, and even lozenges.
When eating marijuana products, the CBD and THC is introduced to the human body through the stomach, and the effects typically last longer than smoking. Be mindful when eating to only eat one dose and wait one hour before eating any more – eating too much has been known to cause a feeling of paranoia and nausea.
The last most common use is topically – there are patches, lotions, and salves that can be directly applied to an area with pain. For instance, muscle discomfort associated with tremors or seizures can benefit from having a CBD and/or THC lotion applied directly to the body part feeling pain. Don’t use these topicals near eyes, mouth, or nose. Lastly, consider drops which can be applied under the tongue and have similar effects to smoking.