With the recent wave of legalization, more people of all ages are interested in cannabis than ever before. Younger adults are more likely to accept cannabis as medicine. At the same time, older citizens are now beginning to realize that cannabis really is useful medicine. In fact, for many, the benefits of medical marijuana are greater than side-effect laden pills, shots, and tinctures doctors may prescribe. But what is it about this special plant that makes it suited to fighting so many ailments? Here are some reasons why cannabis really is medicine, despite what certain industries or government officials might say.
Negative Impacts of Cannabis
There is a long list of benefits of medical marijuana. But first, it’s important to understand some of the common misconceptions around why marijuana isn’t medicine.
For starters, many believe that smoking marijuana damages lung health and leads to lung cancer. The common misconception is that smoking weed is just like smoking tobacco or consuming other carcinogens. In fact, while it's true that smoking tobacco causes lung cancer, cannabis actually increases lung capacity. Further, there actually isn't a correlation between cannabinoids and lung cancer.
Similarly, there are connections between cannabis, diminished brain activity, and a decrease in motivation and productivity. These claims are also bunk, as cannabis has been proven to have little impact on motivation. Plus, regular use can promote brain cell growth and assist in learning.
Benefits of Medical Marijuana for Mood Disorders
People use cannabis to treat a wide variety of mood disorders, including depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder. As a mood elevator, it releases dopamine into the brain, a chemical directly tied to our sensation of happiness. Furthermore, THC acts as a relaxant, calming the body and greatly diminishing negative sensations like jitteriness, nervousness, and nausea. That's a double-whammy; these symptoms often arise as symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Among patients who use cannabis as a treatment for depression, they experience fewer depressive episodes relative to those receiving standard medication. While marijuana is by no means a cure-all, the benefits of medical marijuana are clear.
Benefits of Medical Marijuana for Physical Disorders
In addition to marijuana’s stabilizing effect on mood, cannabis has also been employed in combating several extreme physical conditions, including certain genetic disorders and syndromes such as Parkinson’s and epilepsy and gastronomical issues such as Crohn’s.
While cannabis is widely known to be effective for pain relief, there are several well-documented examples of cannabis completely eliminating seizures in patients who previously suffered hundreds a day for years. While some in the medical field continue to be skeptical about the purported benefits of medical marijuana, marijuana contains a chemical called CBD which many are hailing as a miracle substance.
Concentrated CBD can be synthesized into many different forms with the ability to treat ailments from arthritis to near-constant seizures. There are even CBD lotions which can expel pain from specific areas of the body.
While many in the pharmaceutical industry do not want the public to be aware of the benefits of cannabis, there is a reason why medical marijuana is such a popular choice in the treatment of so many conditions. Luckily, the tide of legalization is turning quickly, and many more patients will soon have access to a growing revolution in medicine.
Marijuana Health Benefits Get a Shoutout on...Fox News?
Cannabis got a big boost in the public eye when Dr. Mehmet Oz, the popular surgeon, and television personality, suggested increasing its use to fight the opioid crisis. Perhaps even more significant was where he made this statement: on “Fox & Friends,” the centerpiece of American conservative media. Taking the opportunity to promote the growing popularity of marijuana health benefits on this program was, in many ways, a huge step forward.
Historically, the program and its hosts haven’t been particularly welcoming towards cannabis or its advocates. But Dr. Oz’s status (and popularity) in this country puts him in a different league than most other guests, and the surge of positive and grateful viewer comments received after the broadcast speak volumes. And it raises an intriguing question: Could cannabis be the unifying force many Americans say they desperately want?
Though America’s political scene is perhaps historically fractured, its citizens are increasingly unanimous when it comes to marijuana health benefits. A recent poll shows close to two-thirds of Americans support both recreational and medical cannabis. That number spikes even higher when the question is limited specifically to medical use.
Doctor Oz made a gutsy move in addressing this issue on Fox & Friends.
Back in August 2017, guest Kathy Barnette—the host of Truth Exchange, a conservative radio show—took a decidedly different stance on the issue. Barnette commented on a recent CDC study indicating that middle-aged parents are more likely to use cannabis than their teenage children.
Barnette's approach to the issue wasn't quite scientific. Apparently assuming that cannabis merely enhances the effects of opiates, she stated: “We have an opiate as well as a mental-health disorder crisis in our nation right now, and many people are self-medicating and masking it.” Barnette was also alarmed at the growing popularity of cannabis, claiming that parents are now: “…spending more on marijuana than on tobacco, alcohol, and personal care combined.”
Actually, studies indicate that cannabis is more likely to be an “exit drug” from opioids rather than gateway one.
We’re also curious about Barnette’s math, given the breadth of all the industries that comprise “personal care.” But more to the point: less money spent on alcohol and tobacco is probably a positive for society. Given that alcohol accounts for roughly 88,000 deaths a year and tobacco a whopping 480,000, a decline in revenue for those industries doesn't seem like a bad thing.
So yes, please: Spend more on cannabis than tobacco and alcohol.
Barnette's visit wasn't the first time Fox & Friends rallied against cannabis.
Previously, Fox & Friends’ hosts had blasted welfare recipients for using their benefit cards to purchase marijuana. Sharp-eyed observers quickly pointed out that, because virtually no dispensaries accept credit card payments, the number of recipients actually making these purchases is likely at or near zero.
Co-host Steve Doocy, in particular, has attempted to speak about cannabis policy in the past. He has voiced concern that a Washington, D.C. program to help low-income residents purchase medical marijuana might be abused as a money-making scheme for would-be drug dealers.
Marijuana Health Benefits Gain a Wider Audience
Of course, it’s possible that Dr. Oz’s comments may have no immediate effect on Fox & Friends’ audience, including its “#1 fan,” President Trump.
No matter how you feel towards the show or towards Dr. Oz, who is widely criticized for promoting pseudoscience. Regardless, elevating the debate over cannabis legalization to such a popular morning program is a major step.
While the current Administration remains dead-set against legalization, the tide of public opinion is rising. By bringing the truth about cannabis’ medical potential to a large and largely conservative audience, Dr. Oz has done cannabis legalization a huge favor.
What is Medical Marijuana? A New Patient Primer
What is Medical Marijuana? A New Patient Primer
Even if you don’t partake yourself, chances are you’ve come across pot at some point in your life. With recreational legalization looming across the nation, access to over-the-counter marijuana may be in our near future. But why is marijuana becoming more mainstream now? And why do so many doctors claim that medical cannabis benefits their patients in ways that other medications don't?
The answer lies in a few special chemicals that lend cannabis its relaxing and psychedelic effects.
Structure of Medical Cannabis
Before we go into what gives cannabis its potency, it’s important to understand the plant’s unique structure.
When you smoke cannabis, you aren’t usually smoking the leaf itself. Actually, that famous green maple leaf you see everywhere as a stand-in for the word “pot”.
In fact, you are smoking the female cannabis plant’s flower, which contains much of what makes cannabis magical. Cannabis has a distinctive appearance, with buds growing in clusters that often take on complex formations. Then, there's the flower.
The flower of the marijuana plant has a coating of tiny crystalline hairs called trichomes. These are the real engine of cannabis potency, and the source of many of the plant's medical benefits. Typically, you can tell the strength of marijuana by the amount of trichomes in the bud. That's why good marijuana tends to take on a “frosty” appearance--more trichomes.
You can collect and condense these hairs to produce “kief” or “hash”. And due to their high trichome count, smoking these hairs can result in even greater effects.
How Medical Cannabis Benefits You: THC and CBD
Trichomes are filled with a wide variety of chemicals called cannabinoids which interact with the brain, the most prominent of which are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is responsible for most of marijuana’s mind-bending and couch-locking effects, producing the vibrant high you experience when your bud and its trichomes are superheated. This is what laboratories test for when attempting to determine potency. If a strain tests at higher than about 18% THC, chances are it is pretty strong. Likewise, a low percentage of THC is going to indicate a strain more suited to newbies than experienced consumers. When purchasing cannabis, always take care to notice if your provider has tested the strain for THC content.
CBD, on the other, is the reason for many of the medical cannabis benefits that make cannabis such a great tool for treating a variety of ailments. In the world of medical marijuana benefits, we still have a lot to learn about CBD. Even so, studies have shown that CBD can diminish seizures, aches, pains, and migraines. Scientists are now even studying whether it might help to fight off certain forms of cancer.
For a more specific example, concentrated CBD was recently found to be a miracle cure for sufferers of Dravet Syndrome, a rare variety of epilepsy that can induce dozens of seizures a day in those it affects. Though CBD didn’t completely eliminate their seizures, it did cut down on their frequency. Researchers are still working to develop new forms of CBD that are specific to different illnesses.
While US legislators haven't yet passed federal legalization, awareness of the plant and its positive effects is growing rapidly. It is only a matter of time before marijuana acceptance makes its way into the mainstream and medical cannabis benefits everyone (including our furry friends).