Some Advantages of Cannabis According to Scientists

Some Advantages of Cannabis According to Scientists

The American public largely supports the legalization of medical marijuana. 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.

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Even though some medical benefits of smoking pot may be overstated by advocates of marijuana legalization, recent research has demonstrated that there are legitimate medical uses for marijuana and strong reasons to continue studying the drug’s medicinal uses.

Some Advantages of Cannabis According to Scientists

Even the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse lists medical uses for cannabis.

There are at least two active chemicals in marijuana that researchers think have medicinal applications. Those are cannabidiol (CBD) — which seems to impact the brain without a high— and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — which has pain relieving properties and is largely responsible for the high.

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But scientists say that limitations on marijuana research mean we still have big questions about its medicinal properties. In addition to CBD and THC, there are another 400 or so chemical compounds, more than 60 of which are cannabinoids. Many of these could have medical uses. But without more research, we won’t know how to best make use of those compounds.

More research would also shed light on the risks of marijuana. Even if there are legitimate uses for medicinal marijuana, that doesn’t mean all use is harmless. Some research indicates that chronic, heavy users may have impaired memory, learning, and processing speed, especially if they started regularly using marijuana before age 16 or 17.

For some of the following medical benefits, there’s good evidence. For others, there’s reason to continue conducting research.

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Jennifer Welsh contributed to an earlier version of this story.

  1. The best-supported medicinal use of marijuana is as a treatment for chronic pain.
  2. There’s also strong evidence medical cannabis can help with muscle spasms.
  3. It doesn’t seem to harm lung capacity, and may even improve it.
  4. Hence, it may be of some use in treating glaucoma, or it may be possible to derive a drug from marijuana for this use.
  5. It may help control epileptic seizures.
  6. This decreases the symptoms of a severe seizure disorder known as Dravet’s Syndrome.
  7. A chemical found in marijuana stops cancer from spreading, at least in cell cultures.
  8. It may decrease anxiety in low doses.
  9. THC may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
  10. The drug eases the pain of multiple sclerosis. 
  11. It seems to lessen side effects from treating hepatitis C and increase treatment effectiveness.
  12. Marijuana may help with inflammatory bowel diseases.

Other Reasons

  1. It relieves arthritis discomfort.
  2. Marijuana users tend to be less obese and have a better response to eating sugar.
  3. While not really a health or medical benefit, marijuana could spur creativity.
  4. Cannabis soothes tremors for people with Parkinson’s disease.
  5. Marijuana may help veterans suffering from PTSD.
  6. Animal studies suggest that marijuana may protect the brain after a stroke.
  7. Marijuana might even protect the brain from concussions and trauma.
  8. It can help eliminate nightmares.
  9. Cannabis reduces some of the pain and nausea from chemotherapy and stimulates appetite.
  10. Marijuana can help people who are trying to cut back on drinking.
  11. Medical marijuana legalization seems to reduce opioid overdose deaths.