For the majority in the US, marijuana is nothing unheard of. A national survey showed that more than a 40million Americans aged over 12 had used marijuana. It’s easy to see that the plant is almost an everyday use substance in the country. But are there any marijuana health benefits?
However, the concern arises due to the fact that most people are unaware of its benefits, risks, side effects, and legality. Along with landing users in trouble with the law, marijuana usage can also have a potential health risk.
In this guide, we’ll discuss marijuana benefits along with other things one must know about the plant.
- What Is Marijuana?
Marijuana is a plant known for its intoxicating effects. Previously, it was illegal all over the US. However, Washington, DC, along with ten other states, recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana for individuals aged over 21.
More than 30 states in the US have legalized medical marijuana due to its pain-relieving and anti-seizure benefits in cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. Meanwhile, in most other states, marijuana products with a low THC content are legal.
Since it has been around for centuries, marijuana has a lot of nicknames, including gangster, fruity juice, weed, herb, pot, grass, ganja, skunk, and Mary Jane.
- Drug Class
Marijuana has hallucinogenic and stimulant effects on the users, but it often falls under the category of depressants.
- Marijuana Mechanism of Action
Marijuana contains cannabinoids that resemble the body’s internal cannabinoids. Therefore, they can interact with the receptors present on the body’s cells, especially that of the brain and the immune system.
As a result of this interaction, a cascade of chemical reactions begins, leading to different results. THC is notoriously responsible for the plant’s hallucinogenic effects as it binds with the relevant receptors, inducing relaxation and mood elevation.
However, when taken in a large amount, it can also cause paranoia and hallucinations.
- How to Use Marijuana?
Even today, the most common method of using marijuana is smoking. Users roll it into a cigarette, popularly called a joint, and then put it in a cigar casing to form a blunt. Alternatively, the plant can be smoked in a water pipe, called a bong.
Nowadays, people are using newer methods for ingesting marijuana as the plant has been legalized for recreational use in some states. Besides baking it into cookies, brownies, and other foods, users also brew marijuana as a tea or eat the plant’s THC-rich resins.
- Marijuana Health Benefits
Studies surrounding marijuana benefits have shown mixed results. However, experts agree that marijuana usage in teenagers is concerning since it can have a life-long impact on their health and mental abilities, including learning, thinking, and memory.
A 2012 study showed that people who started marijuana usage in their teens lost eight IQ points on average till their adulthood.
Additionally, smoking marijuana has a negative impact on one’s respiratory health. Some other dangers of smoking include shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing.
However, not all studies on marijuana have shown concerning results. Some investigations also hint that the plant might be a protective agent against cancer. But at the same time, research also found that it may increase the risk of cancer.
Despite the confusion, people still use marijuana for different health benefits, according to a 2016 study.
The results indicated that people use marijuana for:
- Easing boredom
- As an escape from their life trouble
- Relieving tension
- Feeling good
- Fitting in with their peers and the society
- Medicinal Marijuana Health Benefits
Medical marijuana benefits have been known for quite a while now. Today, medical marijuana is legal in many states for one or more reasons.
However, marijuana is not a primary treatment for any ailment. Instead, it’s recommended to the patients to relieve particular symptoms of their health conditions.
Some common diseases include glaucoma, migraines, severe nausea (as a result of chemotherapy), muscle spasms, cancer, AIDS, Crohn’s diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, seizures, and Wasting syndrome.
A 2017 study reported the drug to be effective in the following conditions: muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis, nausea, chronic pain, and epilepsy.
- Signs of Marijuana Use
If you suspect your teen is misusing marijuana, here are some signs to look out for:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Lack of focus and coordination
- Increased appetite and cravings
- Ineffective time management
However, it’s important to remember that these signs could also correspond to other conditions. Thus, you should look for a group of symptoms rather than taking just one as an indicator of marijuana misuse.
- Is Marijuana Addictive?
A common myth about marijuana is that it’s not addictive. It’s definitely uncommon for people to develop an addiction to the drug, but it’s not impossible. The Center for Disease Control warns that one in ten marijuana users will get addicted to the drug.
Plus, marijuana has more THC content today, due to better refinement technologies, than it did in the past. Thus, there’s a higher chance of addiction.
- Drug Testing
The duration of marijuana’s stay in the body differs between individuals. However, it stays in the blood for a few hours and can be detected in a blood test.
Meanwhile, it typically stays in the urine for 13 days, showing up in a urine test. Most importantly, hair follicle testing can detect marijuana even after 90 days of use.
- Side Effects of Marijuana
Marijuana can have long-term and short-term risks, depending on the person’s frequency of use and the THC content. Some short-term side effects are:
- Poor thinking
- Lack of focus
- Inability to concentrate while driving
- Impaired memory
Meanwhile, the long-term effects range from respiratory problems and cognitive impairment to a heightened risk of lung infections and weak short-term memory.
People who use marijuana regularly also experience the same side effects as tobacco smokers, including chronic bronchitis, chronic coughing, phlegm, etc.
- Marijuana Withdrawal
Even after an individual decides to give up regular marijuana use, the subsequent withdrawals can make it hard for them to do so:
- Mood swings
- Drug cravings
- Lower appetite
- Headaches and chills
- Trouble sleeping
Therefore, you should consult with your doctor if the withdrawals are too severe. But if they’re mild, it’s comparatively easier to manage them at home.