The use of marijuana for medical purposes is one of the most contentious issues in modern healthcare. There are many who claim to benefit from its health-giving properties, while others take a firm stand against any drug use whatsoever.
Marijuana, or cannabis, is prohibited in many countries and is often seen as on par with other illegal drugs like cocaine and ecstasy. But for thousands of years, people have used it to treat health problems such as insomnia, chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. It is currently approved for use in 34 US states and is growing in popularity. So surely there must be some benefit?
It’s a difficult topic, and opinions on the matter vary wildly. In order to come to a conclusion, it’s necessary to take a closer look at the benefits and the risks associated with medical marijuana.
The health benefits
- Marijuana has been shown to be highly effective at reducing nausea and vomiting. It is commonly used by cancer patients, as these are frequent side effects of chemotherapy treatment.
- Compounds found in marijuana are proven to be effective in relieving chronic pain. As this is a condition that affects more than 25 million adults in various ways, there is a huge portion of the population who would benefit from this effect.
- It can relax the muscles, which is particularly useful in relieving the spasticity associated with certain conditions like multiple sclerosis and paralysis. It can also relieve tension in the muscles caused by stress and anxiety.
- Marijuana is a natural appetite stimulant, and as such can be used to treat the loss of appetite associated with diseases like cancer, HIV, and AIDS. As a result, it can help patients to keep up their strength and preserve enough energy to better fight off the conditions afflicting them.
- Marijuana is a lot safer than many drugs currently being prescribed to treat similar symptoms, such as opioids.
- Cannabis does not need to be smoked, as popularly believed. Patients don’t need to harm their respiratory system to ingest the drug, as it can be taken in the form of CBD edibles or oils instead.
- Regular smoking of marijuana can lead to severe respiratory problems such as impaired lung function and a heightened risk of conditions like asthma, lung cancer, and pulmonary disease.
- There is some evidence to suggest that frequent marijuana users are more likely to experience mental health issues such as depression or suicidal thoughts. There are also studies that show a link between marijuana use and an increased risk of psychosis, including schizophrenia.
- Although not as addictive as many other drugs, frequent use can lead to addiction and overuse.
In summary, there is a lot of evidence to support both sides. There are clear health benefits that are impossible to deny, and many sick people find it helps them dramatically. Even so, there are obvious risks associated with it, and it is not a drug to be taken lightly. Any user should weigh up the benefits with the risks and monitor their usage extremely carefully.