Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 03:48 pm

Medical Marijuana, Not Just An Average Herb

The subject of using marijuana or cannabis for therapeutic purposes has been a major topic of hot debate around the world. 

Several controversies surround marijuana’s legal, ethical, and societal implications, ranging from its use, safe administration, packaging, and dispensation to adverse health consequences and limited clinical trials on its therapeutic potential.

Cannabis has changed over the years, and people now see it differently. Currently, over 40 countries have legalized the medical use of cannabis and a few for recreational use. However, the United States DEA and FDA’s stand on medical marijuana hasn’t changed. 

Today,  cannabis is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance under the U.S. DEA’s Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act (Controlled Substances Act) of 1970. The ban on medical marijuana is due to a lack of approved safety data or accepted medicinal use in treatment in the United States. 

Suppose you’re curious about the prospects of marijuana as an adaptable, affordable, and safe medicine. Then, you’re at the right place!

This article will review the history of medicinal marijuana, its component, therapeutic use, and laws surrounding its usage.

Brief History of Medical Cannabis 

Even though the medical application of cannabis is still a recent study in the west, several pieces of evidence show that medical marijuana has been used for ages. For example, a Chinese Emperor, Shen Nong, wrote a book on medicine in 2737 BC that listed cannabis as a therapy for rheumatism, absentmindedness, and constipation. 

Ancient Egyptians are also thought to have employed cannabis in their recipe for cancer treatment as early as the second century. In addition, Greek warriors used cannabis to heal their horses’ wounds from combat.

Additionally, they treated human illnesses, including ear pain and inflammation, with the plant’s medicinal qualities.

The journey of marijuana into western medicine started in 1830 when Irish physician William Brooke O’Shaughnessy presented the results of his research about the therapeutic uses of marijuana in India to English doctors. As a result, numerous ailments, such as muscle spasms, rheumatism, epilepsy, and pain, were all treated with cannabis. 

As research on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis spread, cannabis-based medications became widely used in the west. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck identified a distinction between cannabis grown in India and cannabis grown in Europe in 1785. The cannabis Sativa strain was popular in Europe. 

Lamark assigned a distinct classification to this plant and named it cannabis indica.

Components of The Cannabis Plant

Breaking Down The Cannabis Plant

Cannabinoids make up more than 120 components of cannabis. Researchers are still unsure what each cannabinoid does, but they know quite a bit about cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Each has its effects and uses:

  • CBD is a psychoactive cannabinoid, but it’s not intoxicating or euphoric, so you won’t get “high.” CBD is often used to reduce inflammation and pain. Additionally, it may ease nausea, migraines, seizures, and anxiety. Epiidiolex is the first and only prescription medication containing CBD and approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Certain types of epilepsy can be treated with the medication. Researchers are still studying CBD’s medical uses.
  • Cannabis is primarily psychoactive due to its THC content. Marijuana’s “high” is usually attributed to THC.

The Difference Between Medical Marijuana and Other Drugs 

Most recreational drugs are considered neurotoxins, but THC is a neuroprotectant. Neuroprotectants protect the brain cells from inflammation and against oxidation. A study done in 2005 by the University of Saskatoon was the first to discover that THC promotes the growth of brain cells through a process known as neurogenesis. The study’s lead author, Dr. Xia Zhang, stated in an interview with Science Daily that “most drugs of abuse suppress neurogenesis, where marijuana promotes neurogenesis (brain cell growth).”

Chemicals like THC are found in the human body. In 1992, Dr. Mechoulam (the first person known to isolate THC) made another groundbreaking discovery by the detection of anandamide in humans. 

In the same way, opioids work by mimicking their natural endorphins, chemicals in cannabis mimic naturally occurring cannabinoids (endocannabinoids). For example, THC and the naturally occurring anandamide work on the same cannabinoid receptors in the brain. As a result, they regulate mood, appetite, memory, and sleep.

THC does not always produce a high. However, THC is famous for its ability to induce a state of euphoria. THC is mostly available in the plant THCA (tetrahydrocannabinol acid), its acidic precursor. 

THCA is not psychoactive; therefore, consuming raw cannabis does not induce the “state of euphoria” that smoked cannabis does. Many medical users enjoy raw cannabis because they receive medical benefits without the psychoactive effect. When heated, THCA is converted to THC. The process is termed decarboxylation, or “decarbing .” This is the process that many medical and recreational cannabis users enjoy. Not only are they receiving the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, but they are also enjoying a state of euphoria.

Therapeutic Use of Medical Cannabis 

 Medical cannabis is used for treating a wide range of medical ailments; it is used for pain management, improving appetite, suppressing nausea and epilepsy, combating the effects of chemotherapy, assisting in cancer treatments, fighting MS and HIV/AIDs, and helping improve the quality of life for many other suffering patients.

Is marijuana safe and effective as medicine?

Effects of Medicinal Cannabis 

Research and debate have surrounded marijuana’s potential medicinal properties for many years. It has been proven that THC itself has medical benefits when used in specific formulations. A lot of THC-based medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For instance, Dronabinol (Marinol®) and nabilone (Cesamet®) can treat nausea in patients into cancer chemotherapy and instigate appetite in patients with wasting syndrome from AIDS.

Scientists suggest that medications made from or derived from marijuana plants are more likely to be therapeutically effective than those made from the whole plant or crude extracts. However, numerous challenges face developing drugs from botanicals such as the marijuana plant. 

“Medical marijuana” also risks long-term adverse health effects on people with health- and age-related vulnerabilities. Therefore, it will be necessary to conduct further research to determine whether people who have had their health compromised by disease or its treatment (e.g., chemotherapy) are more likely to experience adverse health outcomes from marijuana use.

How legal is cannabis?

The Movement To Legalize Medical Marijuana 

Cannabis is illegal in many places, but more and more areas are starting to legalize it for recreational and medical purposes. For example, several states have legalized recreational and medical cannabis in the United States.

In other countries, it has only been legalized for medical purposes. Cannabis, however, remains illegal in the United States under federal law. Inflammation and pain are two conditions for which CBD is effective. In addition, it is well established that Epidiolex, a CBD-based prescription medication, can reduce seizures in some cases.

In July of 2001, Health Canada introduced legislation allowing sick Canadians to access marijuana as a medicine. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Canadians use marijuana to treat various medical conditions, from depression to cancer. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the liberal government have promised to legalize Marijuana by July 2018, not only for medical purposes but for every adult, above 18 years of age to enjoy recreationally.

It is also important to note that cannabis law varies from country to country. For example, some countries permit CBD-only products, while others consider it a crime to use any cannabis at all.

Consider your local laws before trying cannabis if you’re curious.

Bottom Line

There is an increase in the use of the term cannabis to refer to marijuana or weed. In any case, cannabis can have both beneficial and harmful effects, depending on how you use it.

Check your town’s legal status before trying cannabis if you’re curious. Also, it may interact with your medications or supplements, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist beforehand. In addition to helping you weigh the risks and benefits of your health, your doctor can also give you advice.


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