Medical Marijuana – The Pros And Cons

There have been a lot of medical MJ supporters advocating for Australia to further legalize medical marijuana in recent years.

But what are the potential risks of this?

Have we really examined the pros and cons?

Of course, Australia already has a limited medicinal cannabis program and it is certainly possible to legally access marijuana if you qualify based on certain parameters, but further decriminalizing the use of the Cannabis Sativa plant could come at a cost.

Here we examine the topic in detail.

In the 2018 World Drug Report publicized by the United Nations, marijuana (cannabis) remains on track as the most widely used illegal drug worldwide.

For as long as humans have roamed the earth, plants have been a vital source of natural medicinal relief for a variety of mild to severe conditions. Basil, for example, reduces stress, boosts immunity and metabolism, and improves digestion. Chamomile relieves pain, aids sleep, and reduces inflammation and swelling. Ginger has antinausea, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-parasitic properties.

The botanical and plant-derived global drug market is surging. However, while some plants are embraced wholeheartedly for therapeutic use, the use of others is vigorously debated all across the board. Marijuana is one of those plants.

The discovery of marijuana is credited to the Asiatic continent where its use as food, fiber, and medicine dates back more than two millennia. The plant contains over six hundred ingredients, but its therapeutic effects come from chemical compounds called cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids in Marijuana

Researchers have identified over one hundred different types of cannabinoids in marijuana. Scientific studies on the plant’s medicinal effects focus primarily on the following phytocannabinoids. The major active ones are the first three.

● Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
● Cannabidiol (CBD) – See our homepage for more info on this compound.
● Cannabinol (CBN)
● Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA)
● Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)
● Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)
● Cannabichromene (CBCA)
● Cannabichromene (CBC)
● Cannabigerol (CBG)
● Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
● Cannabidivarin (CBDV)

The main psychoactive effect and addictive potential of marijuana are attributed to THC. THC also helps relieve pain, nausea, and vomiting. It can also stimulate appetite, promote sleep, and help with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

CBD has antipsychotic, anxiolytic, antiepileptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. CBN is mildly psychoactive and has anti-insomnia, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-convulsive properties. CBN can also provide pain relief, promote bone cell growth, and stimulate appetite.

Marijuana’s non-psychoactive cannabinoids have an entourage effect on the overall psychoactive effects the plant produces. This modulating quality is led by CBD and enhances the therapeutic benefits of the plant making. The entourage effect indicates that the cannabinoids work best together than as individual compounds.

marijuana thc wax

A picture of THC wax, which is commonly used by medical marijuana patients.

What Is Medical Marijuana?

Medical and recreational marijuana are the same thing. When the plant is used for the sole purpose of treating symptoms of illness, disease, or other conditions, it’s referred to as medical marijuana.

The Pros of Medical Marijuana

Those in favor of using medical marijuana make the following arguments to support their position.

1. Pain management

Medical marijuana is most commonly sort out to treat chronic pain, the most significant health burden the word is facing today. Studies show that medical marijuana helps with back pain, arthritis, neuropathic pain, post-surgical pain, abdominal pain, and migraines.

The drug also provides relief from the common conditions associated with chronic pain, such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Unlike opiates, medical marijuana is less addicting and doesn’t cause nausea or sedation. It also does not increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

2. Reduces chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

Chemotherapy activates the chemoreceptor trigger zone resulting in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Nausea and vomiting can result in a variety of health complications, including dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities, undernutrition, and weight loss.

Medical marijuana has anti-emetic effects that help relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

3. Helps with appetite loss

Appetite loss is a common symptom of several chronic illnesses, including HIV/AIDS and certain types of cancers. Proper nutrition is necessary for healing, but when people are unwell, food is often the last thing on their mind.

Marijuana triggers the production of ghrelin, a hormone that signals the brain that you’re hungry. The drug can also make food appear more appetizing by easing symptoms like nausea and vomiting that cause food aversions.

4. Diminishes spasticity caused by some chronic neurological conditions

Spasticity is the loss of voluntary muscle and joint control. Damage to the portion of the brain or spinal cord that controls voluntary movement is the most common cause. Spasticity negatively impacts one’s quality of life and diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and Parkinson’s disease exhibit this symptom.

The compounds in marijuana have antispastic effects that can help relieve muscle stiffness, spasms, and tremors.

5. Improves seizure control in some epileptic patients

Epilepsy, a central nervous system (neurological) disorder, is characterized by recurrent seizures and sensorimotor, cognitive, psychological, psychiatric, and social impairments. People with epilepsy have a poor quality of life and are at an increased risk of premature death.

Studies show that marijuana produces antiseizure and antiepileptic effects that may prevent or reduce epileptic seizures and reduce the risk of mortality.

6. Decreases anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Anxiety and related disorders like PTSD are common mental conditions. Research shows that marijuana has anti-anxiety effects and can create a calming experience that temporarily relieves symptoms of these conditions.

7. Reduces intraocular pressure

The second leading cause of irreversible blindness is glaucoma. High intraocular pressure, the key contributor to this condition destroys retina cells and degrades the optic nerve. This damage progressively constricts peripheral vision until all sight is lost. Studies show that medical marijuana significantly lowers intraocular pressure.

8. Improve symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are two of the most common inflammatory bowel diseases. Inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract causes these conditions. Symptoms include abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, fatigue, and diarrhea and can result in poor appetite and unintended weight loss.

Marijuana’s anti-inflammatory effects can help improve IBD symptoms and even help some patients reduce their dependence on prescription medication.

9. Improves the effectiveness of hepatitis C medication

Hepatitis C is a viral liver inflammation disease which, when treated conventionally, causes significant neuropsychiatric and uncomfortable and painful physical side effects. Fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and depression are some of those side effects. The severity of the side effects can interrupt treatment. Studies show that marijuana helps treats the side effects allowing patients to stick to their treatment program.

The Cons of Medical Marijuana

Those not in favor of medical marijuana point to the following side effects associated with using the drug.

1. Increases the risk of cannabis-induced psychosis

The presence of THC makes medical marijuana a powerful psychoactive. When consumed, THC interacts with receptors type-1 (CB1) in the brain, causing neurobiological changes. Symptoms of cannabis-induced psychosis include delusions and hallucinations. Dissociation or depersonalization, anxiety, agitation, and disorganized thoughts and speech are also signs of psychosis.

2. Impaired cognitive ability

Cognitive skills consist of perception, attention, memory, and logical reasoning. They are the skills that help individuals think and learn and interact appropriately with their environment and the people around them.

Studies show regular marijuana use adversely affects cognitive performance. Short-term memory and executive and attentional functions show the highest deficits, and users have trouble performing simple everyday tasks. These effects are worse in adolescents and young adults.

3. Increased risk of certain cancers

Carcinogens are substances that promote carcinogenesis, the formation of cancer. Marijuana smoke contains carcinogenic hydrocarbons like benzopyrene (50 percent more than tobacco smoke) and benzanthracene (75 percent more than tobacco smoke).

In the body, those compounds promote inflammatory immune responses, which can stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Marijuana increases the risk of prostate cancer, oropharyngeal cancers, and testicular cancer.

4. Risk of abuse and addiction

Anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced naturally by the body, is responsible for regulating mood. THC interferes with the body’s ability to produce anandamide and rewires the brain to depend on marijuana to feel good, resulting in a marijuana use disorder. This condition is characterized by the uncontrollable urge to use the drug despite significant distress or impairment.

5. Increased risk of respiratory complications

Marijuana, like tobacco, is a bronchial irritant. Marijuana results in more substantial airway inflammation, airway resistance, and lung hyperinflation as users inhale it deeper and longer and at higher combustion temperatures. This way of smoking exposes the lungs to five times more carbon monoxide and three times more tar. Chronic bronchitis and respiratory illnesses are more common in marijuana users as a result.

6. Increased risk of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome

Using marijuana for an extended period can result in cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). Symptoms of this condition include recurrent episodes of nausea, vomiting, and severe abdominal cramps. People with CHS also have an uncontrollable urge to take hot showers or baths. CHS can lead to kidney failure.

7. Inability to safely drive or operate machinery

Driving and operating machinery require coordinated cognitive and motor skills. Marijuana use compromises both these abilities. Studies done in states where marijuana is legal showed a three percent increase in motor vehicle accidents.

8. Aggravates cardiovascular issues

People with existing heart conditions are at higher risk of a heart attack, atrial fibrillation, or ischemic stroke if they use marijuana. This is because the plant’s active compounds can raise resting heart rate, dilate blood vessels, and make the heart pump harder.

9. Adversely affects adolescent brain development

Prefrontal lobe maturation happens during adolescence. Complex cognitive behavior planning, personality expression, decision making, and social behavior moderation occur in this area of the brain. Brain-imaging studies show prolonged cannabis use during critical periods of development, such as adolescence, has detrimental effects on intelligence, and cognitive function. Studies also show that cessation does not fully restore IQ deficits.

This is just a quick synopsis of some of the main issues concerning medicinal cannabis.

Our uses of hemp article shows you other ways in which this same plant is used for a variety of different purposes.

Not only is medical MJ on the rise in Australia- so are industrial and other miscellaneous uses for the cannabis plant.

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