Along with Washington D.C, 29 states around the country have legalized medical marijuana. According to an article by the Business Insider, the American public is in large support of medical marijuana use. The author of the article states that:
“At least 84% of the public believes the drug should be legal for medical uses, and recreational pot usage is less controversial than ever, with at least 61% of Americans in support.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018
Even the National Institute on Drug Abuse lists that there are viable medical uses for cannabis, though some of its advocates often overstate its power. Though there are about 400 or more chemical compounds in marijuana, scientists mainly focus on the two active ones that are believed to have medical implications. According to Loria, the two are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The two min components act in different ways though; CBD seems to impact the brain without a high, while its counterpart, THC, has pain relieving properties but is largely responsible for the high. From Loria’s research, I will provide the 23 health benefits:
- The best-supported medicinal use of marijuana is as a treatment for chronic pain.
- There is strong evidence that medical cannabis can help with muscle spasms.
- The actual smoking of marijuana has not been proven to harm lung capacity (unless used in combination with tobacco) and may in fact improve it.
“Researchers looking for risk factors of heart disease tested the lung function of 5,115 young adults over the course of 20 years. Tobacco smokers lost lung function over time, but pot users actually showed an increase in lung capacity. It’s possible that the increased lung capacity may be due to taking a deep breath while inhaling the drug and not from a therapeutic chemical in the drug.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018
- It may be of use in treating glaucoma, or it can be possible to derive a drug from marijuana for this specific use.
- It can help control epileptic seizures.
- It decreases the symptoms of severe seizure disorder known as Dravet’s Syndrome. The article provided an interesting anecdote about this specific use as well:
“During the research for his documentary “Weed,” Sanjay Gupta interviewed the Figi family, who treated their 5-year-old daughter using a medical marijuana strain high in cannabidiol and low in THC. The Figi family’s daughter, Charlotte, has Dravet Syndrome, which causes seizures and severe developmental delays. According to the film, the drug decreased her seizures from 300 a week to just one every seven days. Forty other children in the state were using the same strain of marijuana to treat their seizures when the film was made — and it seemed to be working.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018
- A chemical found in marijuana stops cancer from spreading, at least in cell cultures.
- It can decrease anxiety in low doses.
- THC can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. This is of particular relevance to me, due to the fact that I lost my grandfather to Alzheimer’s earlier this year. There is no cure to Alzheimer’s, but if I would have known about some of marijuana’s healing ability for it, it definitely would have been explored as an option.
The 2006 study, published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, found that THC 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-bases prescription drug called dronabinol was able to reduce behavioral disturbances in dementia patients.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018
- Marijuana eases the pain of multiple sclerosis.
- It seems to lessen the side effects from treating Hepatitis C and increase treatment effectiveness.
“… A 2006 study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that 86% of patients using marijuana successfully completed their Hep C therapy. Only 29% of non-smokers completed their treatment, possibly because the marijuana helps lessen the treatment’s side effects.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018
- It has been proven to help with inflammatory bowel diseases.
- It relieves arthritis discomfort for many.
- Marijuana users tend to be less obese and have a better response to eating sugar.
- Though it isn’t a medical or health benefit, marijuana could spur creativity.
“Contrary to stoner stereotypes, marijuana usage has actually been shown to have some positive mental effects, particularly in terms of increasing creativity, at least in some contexts. Even though people’s short-term memories tend to function worse when they’re high, they actually get better at tests requiring them to come up with new ideas.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018
- Cannabis soothes tremors for people with Parkinson’s disease.
- Marijuana can help veterans suffering from PTSD.
- Studies on animals suggest that marijuana can protect the brain after a stroke.
- Particularly related to sports, marijuana can protect the brain from concussions and trauma.
- Though this one can’t necessarily be proven, marijuana use can help eliminate nightmares.
- Cannabis reduces some of the pain and nausea from chemotherapy and stimulates appetite.
- Marijuana can help people who are suffering from alcoholism, which has proven to damage the liver and cause aggressive behaviors.
“Research published in the Harm Reduction Journal found that some people use marijuana as a less harmful substitute for 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.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018
- Medical marijuana legalization seems to reduce opioid overdose deaths.