Medical marijuana is the same as recreational marijuana, just that it is taken solely for its medicinal properties. The marijuana plant contains a lot of chemicals and some of them have been found useful in treating a host of health conditions.
The chemicals contained in the marijuana plant are known as cannabinoids. These cannabinoids have a plethora of effects on the body, with each cannabinoid having its own individual effect.
Out of all the cannabinoids, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the principal ones used in medicine.
Delta-9-THC is also the chemical that causes people to feel high after consuming marijuana.
Ways of consuming marijuana
Over the years, people have come up with different methods of consuming marijuana, each one tailored to fit individual preferences.
Some of the more popular ways of taking marijuana include:
- Smoking it– This is one of the fastest ways of feeling the effects of marijuana. And this is recommended in instances where the effects of the drug need to be brought about quickly.
- Inhalation using a vaporizer– The vaporizer is a device that turns the marijuana into a mist that can be inhaled. It is also another very fast way to ensure you feel the effects, as this method and the one above are ingested nasally allowing the drug to go into the bloodstream quickly by bypassing the gastrointestinal tract.
- Ingestion– This is the oral consumption of marijuana usually done after converting the drug into a more edible form such as cooking or baking with it. This method is a lot slower than using the inhaling route as it usually takes about one to two hours before the effects of the drug will be felt.
- Topical application– Marijuana can be used to make lotions, creams, sprays, or oils which can be applied to the skin.
- Sublingual application– Marijuana is made into a liquid form which is applied under the tongue in droplets.
The use of the above methods is both dependent on individual preference and also the purpose for which the drug is taken. Different routes work at different speeds and that should be kept in mind as a prescription is being made.
Medical benefits of Marijuana
As stated earlier, marijuana has some medical benefits which are attributed to the chemicals it contains known as cannabinoids. These cannabinoids include Delta-9-THC and cannabidiol. Cannabinoids are known to mimic some of the body chemicals that affect memory, movement, appetite, and sensations of pain.
Though a lot of research is still ongoing into the health benefits, some have already been proven.
The more commonly known therapeutic effects of marijuana include:
- Treating seizures: A cannabidiol drug, Epidiolex was approved by the FDA in 2018 for the treatment of two rare and severe forms of epilepsy known as Lennox-Gestaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. This drug offers relief from the seizures that occur as a result of the above conditions. Studies also show that there was a decline in the frequency of the occurrence of seizures in patients taking the drug.
- Appetite stimulation: It has been known to stimulate appetite and therefore increase weight gain in some individuals. Examples of said individuals include AIDS patients and people with various stages of cancer.
- Killing of cancer cells and helping to slow down the growth of tumors.
- Helps in relaxing spastic or tight muscles in patients with multiple sclerosis.
- Helps to reduce anxiety.
- Helps to reduce inflammatory changes that can occur and helps to relieve pain
- Helps to control nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy: This is done by the use of the drugs Dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros) and Nabilone (Casamet) which have been FDA approved.
Further research on the medical benefits of marijuana includes its importance in the management and treatment of the following diseases:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Eating disorders like anorexia
- Epilepsy and associated seizures
- Mental health impairments like post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and schizophrenia
- Muscle spasms
- Cachexia-wasting syndrome
Use of marijuana as a recreational drug and its side effects
Asides from its medical purposes, marijuana is mostly used for its recreational functions. Also stated earlier, the cannabinoid delta-9-THC which is a chemical found in the marijuana plant is responsible for making people feel high after taking it.
Marijuana is taken by most people for its effects on the central nervous system. It generally calms people down, takes away unwanted feelings of pain and grief, and replaces them with feelings of euphoria.
It is a way of coping with the negative aspects of life, or it can just be used to unwind after a very long day. Many people have many reasons for taking marijuana.
The downside to using marijuana as a recreational substance
Perhaps the greatest negative effect marijuana has on the human body is how addictive the drug is. This is because of the very high levels of THC contained in the drug. Instead of the natural phenomenon whereby the body adapts to certain things after it has been used for some time, thereby dampening the effects those things have on the body after a while, marijuana is quite the opposite.
The more you use marijuana, the more your body wants it and this increases the likelihood of dependency on the substance. And not only does the body demand an increase in the frequency of marijuana intake, it also demands an increase in the dosage. This means that over time, there is a need for higher quantities of marijuana to produce the same effects that a much lower quantity previously did.
Other side effects of taking marijuana include:
- Low blood pressure
- Bloodshot eyes
- Poor judgment and coordination can lead to accidents and subsequently cause injuries
- Impairment of IQ and mental functioning if marijuana is taken during the development period of the brain such as infancy, childhood, or during the teenage years.
- Bronchitis and other lung problems, when the drug is taken in via smoking.
As bad as the above side effects of marijuana are, the long-term effects are even worse.
Some long term effects of taking marijuana include:
- Functional impairment in the cognitive ability of the brain
- Risk of developing coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular problems
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic psychosis disorders
In view of all of this, if you know anyone that is suffering from a marijuana addiction, click here for a list of recommended rehab centers that can help.
Where to legally buy Marijuana- states where it is legal and states where it is illegal
It is undecided whether the health benefits of marijuana outweigh its adverse effects, but it is worth noting that a lot of health care professionals support its use as a drug.
In the same light, many more states agree and have unbanned the use of the substance.
Below is a list of states where you can legally buy marijuana:
Marijuana can be purchased legally in the following 33 states for medical reasons
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Marijuana can also be purchased legally in some states for strictly recreational use. Eleven states that allow the purchase of marijuana as a recreational drug include:
Below are fourteen states that only allow the restricted purchase and use of marijuana:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
How to buy marijuana in legal states
Purchasing marijuana in states where it is legal is a bit easier than purchasing it in states where it is illegal.
To get medical marijuana, you would need to get a written recommendation from a licensed doctor. The doctor would ensure that you have a medical condition that qualifies you for its use. Different states have different guidelines on how to go about obtaining the drug so be sure to enquire about your state’s guidelines and follow the due process.
How to buy marijuana in illegal states
This is a tad more complicated. One of the methods involves going online to a medical marijuana and cannabis dispensary that sells and delivers marijuana and making a purchase. Some sites will need you to fill in personal information for security reasons while others try to be as discreet as they can.
Quality issues between legal and illegal Marijuana
All in all, legal marijuana is much safer than illegal marijuana. This is because it is gotten in a much transparent manner, and therefore should be of better quality. Not only that, legal marijuana usually has doses carefully calibrated by professionals. Illegal marijuana however can be problematic. This is because the products are untested and there is no telling what it contains. It could be laced with different chemicals which could have adverse effects on the body. the doses are also rarely unregulated
As stated above, marijuana is a highly addictive drug with a host of medical properties.
People are still deciding whether or not its health benefits outweigh the side effects but there are ways of circumnavigating its side effects.
The first is to only take marijuana when recommended by a doctor. Close monitoring of the patient should also be observed and the patient should immediately stop the drug if they show signs of dependency.
More research is being carried out on the drug and hopefully, this will not only open up other avenues for its use in medicine.