The controversy surrounding the recreational use of medical marijuana has led to a lot of confusion and misinformation regarding the drug. However, the past decade has seen a de-stigmatization of cannabis use, as well as increased education regarding its health benefits.
To many, Marijuana remains an intoxicating, recreational drug, and therefore it may cause physical and mental risks. Legally, cannabis has, for long, been a controlled substance because it was believed a gateway drug to much more harmful substances. These views are increasingly being debunked by marijuana-legalization activists, who believe the recent surge in cannabis de-criminalization around the world offers the perfect time to find out the truth about the plant.
The Psychology Behind Cannabis Criminalization
Marijuana was initially criminalized across most states in 1931 when bureaucrats amid prohibition were looking to pass more restrictions on the use of intoxicating substances. The Marijuana Tax Act was then passed in 1937, making cannabis illegal to consume and distribute around the country. The police imposed economic penalties for those found consuming and selling the drug, and the inability of low-income minorities to pay these fines led to imprisonment.
This created much of the stigma regarding cannabis, which had become associated with petty criminality, and later, to the widespread drug use in more impoverished communities. The occurrence of “lacing” became more prominent as cannabis gained in popularity. This involves cannabis being mixed with another, harder drug in a “joint,” and the two drugs being smoked simultaneously. Lacing leads some cannabis consumers to develop an addiction to other drugs, such as LSD, morphine, heroin, and cocaine.
Risks of Marijuana
Frequent marijuana use has been found, in some cases, to amplify symptoms of bipolar disorder among those living with the condition. There is also considerable evidence of young marijuana users having higher rates of suicide ideation and depression than non-users. Marijuana use is also considered to increase the occurrence of psychosis in those with pre-existing conditions such as schizophrenia and MPD.
The National Academies of Science found that Marijuana increases the occurrence of a testicular cancer subtype and chronic cough. It is unclear whether cannabis smoking compromises lung function, but it has been found to increase the risk of asthma and even chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Health Benefits Of Marijuana
The health benefits of Marijuana apply to a variety of health conditions. Marijuana use has been found to reduce chronic pain, which is currently pushing 25 million adults in the US into disability. Marijuana’s cannabinoid content can relieve inflammation discomfort for up to 6 hours after consumption. Cannabis has also been found, according to a University Of British Columbia study published by Sciencedaily, to help people struggling with alcohol and opium addictions to stop using their drug of choice.
Marijuana has commonly been known as a “relaxant,” but it wasn’t until recently that it was found to alleviate social anxiety as well as PTSD symptoms. To avoid the psychoactive effects of cannabis (which may increase the risk of psychosis), CBD oil can be consumed instead of the plant. CBD oil provides all the relaxing properties of weed smoking and none of the potential agitation. In some states, cannabis is also approved for a prescription to cancer patients because it has been found to decrease nausea and vomiting side-effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
A Concluding Note
Weighing the health risks of cannabis against its benefits, it is understandable that the drug has been found safe for public use in several states and countries around the world. While its health benefits have been established, its declared physical risks are still widely debated. Most studies that have found potential health risks to the use of cannabis have been considered non-conclusive by other experts in the field. It is possible to use Marijuana safely; by discouraging the use among those with pre-existing conditions such as schizophrenia, and practices such as lacing. Overall, the number of people whose well-being and health is improved by moderate cannabis use may vastly outweigh that of those whose health it has harmed.