While the marijuana plant has been used for at least 3,000 years, it still stirs quite a controversial debate today. Currently, 29 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana for medicinal — and even recreational — use. Yet the drug remains illegal at the federal government level.
Despite that, more than 80% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana and it’s estimated several million Americans use the drug.
California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis in 1996 and now the drug is legal for medicinal and recreational use. You can easily find cannabis businesses like dispensaries and medical cannabis collectives across the state. The cannabis industry is thriving in San Francisco and the East Bay cities of Berkeley and Oakland.
A typical Berkeley dispensary will sell edibles, tinctures, and other quality products and may even offer a delivery service. Many medical cannabis patients have reported a variety of health benefits from regular usage, and scientific research has even verified some of these claims. Below we look at some of the benefits from taking medical cannabis.
1. Improves Mental Health
Various scientific studies have proven that cannabis can help reduce the symptoms associated with some mental illnesses. The endocannabinoid compounds in marijuana are known to stabilize mood. Marijuana can also control a person’s fight or flight response.
A review in the Clinical Psychology Review found that marijuana can provide relief to individuals suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. The review also indicated that marijuana can help reduce some symptoms associated with social anxiety.
2. Relieves Chronic Pain
Medical cannabis has often been touted as an effective treatment for chronic pain conditions like arthritis. Marijuana contains cannabinoids, which are chemical compounds and the main active ingredients in the plant.
Proponents of marijuana legalization often stipulate that cannabis can help alleviate chronic pain and science has recently backed up this claim. A 2017 review from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that marijuana and other products containing cannabinoids do indeed reduce chronic pain.
3. Helps Manage Epilepsy
One of the components in marijuana — cannabidiol (CBD) — has been found to reduce seizures in children with epilepsy. CBD is not psychoactive and therefore purified solutions of the ingredient will not induce the high normally associated with marijuana.
A 2017 study in the New England Journal of Medicine actually lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve an epilepsy medication called Epidiolex, which contains CBD. The report found that a CBD solution reduced seizures by half in children and young adults with Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy,
4. Fights Cancer
Medical cannabis has often been linked to battling cancer, especially in alleviating the side effects associated with chemotherapy. Science has backed up this claim. Research has shown that taking oral cannabinoids and smoking marijuana can help reduce symptoms associated with chemotherapy like vomiting and nausea.
Additionally, some studies have suggested that cannabinoids can help slow down the growth or even kill certain types of cancer.
5. Can Help Combat Alcohol and Drug Addictions
Marijuana is known as a “gateway drug,” a term that insinuates that using it could lead to trying other drugs and becoming dependent on dangerous substances. However, a review in Clinical Psychology Review has refuted that claim.
The report suggested that marijuana use can actually help those fighting alcohol and opioid addiction. This could be due, in part, to cannabis being used as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs. In fact, a 2009 study from The Harm Reduction Journal found that about 40% of users replaced alcohol with marijuana and roughly 26% substituted illicit drugs for marijuana.
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