What is medical marijuana?


            Medical marijuana, also known as medical cannabis refers to the utilization of the entire cannabis plant or some essential extracts, for the treatment of different diseases and conditions. Medical marijuana comes from a cannabis plant  or online weed store containing over one hundred components known as cannabinoids, some of which research indicate include medical benefits. Out of the over one hundred elements, Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the commonly used components due to their distinct properties. THC produces euphoria, which gives its users a high while CBD is the non-intoxicating component mainly used for medical purposes .The cannabinoids interact with the body to provide their therapeutic effects through the endocannabinoid system. The system, which is the signaling set-up that contains CB1 receptor and CB2 receptors, facilitates the cannabinoid components to attach to them, providing health benefits.

            Medical marijuana traces its origin years back in ancient China. The first official documentation of its use was around 2737BC, when Chinese Emperor Shennong, a pharmacologist by training published a book, citing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. While the rest of the world was oblivious of the existence of this herb, China utilized it to treat gout, rheumatism, constipation, and senility. With time, medical cannabis made an entry in the modern era in the 1960s after discovering THC. Scientists and doctors were unaware of its medicinal benefits up until the 1980s and early 1990s after the discovery of cannabinoid receptors in a human body. From there on, scientists, as well as, physicians carried out inquiries to determine if any medical benefits could result from medical marijuana and its extracts. It is through these investigations that there was a discovery that cannabis could provide pain relief from various ailments such as chronic pain and this saw its development into different medicinal products.

            From here onwards, several countries began making pharmaceutical drugs from cannabis and availed them for medical use. Nonetheless, medical cannabis use has continually endured controversy, way higher than any other subject in the world. From doctors, scientists, researchers, politician and the public alike, they display strong emotions as they question it. Is it safe? Should it be made legal? Has it sufficiently proven its effectiveness? What medical conditions does it help to treat? Is it addictive?  All these questions and many more arise mostly because of lack of its standardization with other products to guarantee safety, proper dosage, as well as, lack of consensus on its legalization. For instance, the U.S. federal government has continually considered growing, possession and use of marijuana unlawful. About 32 states nevertheless have permitted its use. Similarly, in some European countries such as the UK, medical marijuana is prohibited but, a marijuana-based drug identified as nabiximols is allowed.  Notwithstanding the legal issues, investigators and drug corporations have gone ahead to carry out investigations on medical cannabis in countries such as Canada, where the use of medical marijuana is legal.

            How do you access medical marijuana? Cannabis used for medicinal purposes is legally accessible in states and countries that have medical marijuana programs. The conditions approved for this kind of treatment differ; thus, you will have to find out whether your health situation qualifies.

Marijuana effects on brain

            For decades, people have resulted in consuming mind-altering substances such as alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, as well as, other hard drugs. However, none of them beats marijuana, which is the most consumed illegal drug in the world despite receiving continued support for its legalization both for medical and recreational purposes. So, what does marijuana do to our brains? The question has been in the mind of many cannabis users and scientist alike for several years. Nonetheless, after several studies, scientists found out how cannabis work and the critical communication system found in the brain. To understand its effect on the brain,you have to know how a brain works first.

            Your brain comprises of vital cells known as neurons. Neurons are nerve impulse transmitting units, which they use to process information that comes into the brain and release chemicals known as neurotransmitters to pass the data from brain cell to another brain cell. From the axon of one neuron to the tail end of another, a neuron alters the electric charge of the neuron receiving the command making it exciting or restraining it. If the impulse is exciting the neuron allows it to pass and they work together to create an intertwined configuration in a few seconds controlling how you feel, think and act.  Further, the body contains a set of natural chemicals known as cannabinoids, which together with receptors make up the endocannabinoid system. The system, present in the brain works to influence numerous body functions.

            When you smoke marijuana, it produces cannabinoid molecules similar to those produced in the endocannabinoid system. The particles circulate the brain releasing THC, which appears as a natural brain transmitter produced by neurons when passing information. The structure of THC is similar to that of a brain chemical called anandamide. Thus, when THC enters the body, its similarities to a brain chemical makes the body to recognize it and take it in. Once in the brain, it attaches itself to cannabinoid receptors, which influences recollection, sensory, movement, happiness, thinking, harmonization and perception of time . THC causes the neurons to become inactive for some time, a turn of event, which leaves them dormant making the brain operate in a calm and restricted manner. Since the cannabinoids present in the body naturally are widespread all over the brain, it deactivates the brain part whose function is to regulate the time one takes to react, keeping you trapped in one specific idea. The neurons keep pushing to gain control until a new idea dominates your mind and you vanish in a different direction.

            THC also interferes with memory keeping part of the brain, causing you to face difficulties remembering things while also influencing the part of the brain that makes a person feel good and floods it with dopamine hormone, giving you euphoria or the magical “high.” If you take a large dosage of cannabis, you are likely to experience psychosis, hallucination, and misconception. In the long run, THC can alter how the endocannabinoid system works causing addiction, mental health problems and loss of memory.

Negative effects of weed

            Marijuana appears safer than other stimulating drugs such as alcohol and more of its users believe it is a modern-day healer. However, researchers suggest it can result in numerous medical issues. People have increased their usage of cannabis through the years, and as it increasingly becomes legal in more states and countries, debates will rise on its side effects. Thus, it is wise you understand the side effects cannabis use brings about. 

            So how does marijuana affect you? Marijuana affects you by causing addiction.Over time, the continued use of cannabis causes overreliance and dependence on it. Addiction is the compulsive drive to continue using a substance- in this case, marijuana- despite the adverse effects it causes. When you use marijuana, THC stimulates cannabinoid receptors in the brain and with time, reprograms it to perform optimally only with cannabis use. Thus, it forces you to continue with this habit to feel normal, and in the end, you develop marijuana addiction.

            Another effect of the use of cannabis is loss of memory. Numerous scientific studies conducted over the years discovered that people who use weed every day have to contend with a poor memory as they mature. The entry of THC in the brain influences it in numerous ways, among them changing the process of processing information in the hippocampus and as a result, you experience difficulties recollecting certain information.

            Lung problems are another reason why marijuana is bad for you. Weed produces similar amounts of chemicals like those produced by smoking tobacco. The fact tells you that carcinogens introduced by smoking marijuana inflict immeasurable harm. The carcinogens irritate lungs resulting in breathing difficulties, consistent coughing, phlegm and increased risk of lung infections. Also, if you smoke weed frequently, you hurt your lungs causing bronchitis and increased risk of lung cancer.

            Social anxiety also occasions with the use of weed. While its use relieves anxiety, on the other hand, it predisposes you to mental health ailments such as anxiety disorder and depression. When THC stimulates a brain, it influences the functioning of various parts including the part responsible for feeling fear. Its stimulation magnifies one’s fears leading to anxiety. Also, while one enjoys euphoria and calming effects of cannabis, the intoxicating effect also makes one feel dull, emotional and paranoids, feelings that induce depression. 

            Heart damage is one of the weed side effects. Usually, taking weed relaxes people and makes them high. However, high THC levels move from the lungs into your bloodstream and the entire body. Within minutes of consuming it, the speed at which your heart beats rises by 20 to 50 beats every minute, and it remains high for as long as three hours. Consequently, this increases a person’s chance of developing a stroke or suffering from a heart attack by twenty-six percent.

            Low testosterone is another negative effect of weed. Today’s cannabis contains high percentages of THC. The increase may be beneficial for those looking for a good time, as the euphoric effect becomes stronger with increased THC levels. However, when it comes to male testosterone, THC devastatingly causes a decrease in levels of testosterone production. Consequently, such men experience lethargy, weight gain, and low libido.

Marijuana effects on body

            Countries around the world have begun acknowledging that marijuana is not only a drug for people who want to enjoy its euphoric effects as provided by its main component THC, but it also has some pretty advantageous qualities that can be beneficial to health. Medical use of marijuana still faces controversy as people doubt its effectiveness. However, numerous studies by scientist and health professionals have concluded that despite the overstating of some positive attributes of weed there are legitimate medicinal uses of marijuana.

            One of the health effects of this herb is relieving chronic pain. Chronic pain is a significant cause of disability among people worldwide, which comes about due to conditions such as multiple sclerosis, headaches, back pain, and arthritis among others . The active ingredient identified as CBD influences actions of cannabinoid receptors in a brain to reduce the swelling and slowing down the activity of pain receptors so they can delay in transmitting pain signals thus, cause one to experience less pain or none at all.

            The second health benefit of consuming cannabis is managing some mental health conditions. Depression and anxiety are among the most prevalent psychiatric disorders affecting people. Fear causes one to be restless and worry so much about everything while depression induces low mood and disinterest in what is going on in the surrounding or your life. Weed helps to alleviate these conditions by THC influencing the functioning of the brain to regulate a person’s mood, induce happiness, and make them relax . The CBD component of weed also helps to manage these conditions by controlling your response to stress through a reduction in stress hormones, keeping you in high spirit for more extended periods.

            The third benefit of weed is slowing and stopping the growth of cancer cells. The weed component known as cannabidiol is effective in slowing down the progression of cancer. In a research study documented in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, the element was found to be useful in closing down the ID-1 gene, a gene that facilitates the faster increase of cancer cells. Stopping the progression of this gene by CBD causes cancer cells to become inactive, less aggressive and considerably slows down the growth of cancerous tumors in the brain, breasts, and lungs. 

            Treatment of glaucoma is another effect of weed.Glaucoma is a medical condition that affects the eyes by pressure building up in the eyeball, consequences in damage to the optic nerve and loss of eyesight. Marijuana cures this condition by reducing the intraocular pressure build up in the eye, which causes the veins in the eyes to contract and restoration of sight.

            Research studies document that CBD has the potential to control the occurrence of seizures. The condition, characterized by a rush of electric activity in the brain disrupts messages passed across brain cells, causing seizures to reoccur. CBD oil reins on them by attaching onto brain cells that control excitement and adjusts relaxation, thereby helping you to relax and limit the occurrence of seizures .

What are the different ways you can take medical marijuana and how do they affect you?

            When it comes to consuming marijuana the second consideration after selecting the strain of choice is the method you will use to take it. Most weed lovers overlook this point, and this informs their limited exposure to enjoying weed. Reaping all the mental and physical benefits of marijuana depends in large part with the method you use to consume it, as a variety gives you a unique experience. If you want to become an expert in weed consumption, here are the different methods you should try out and the effects you are likely to endure.

There are three ways of taking marijuana, which include inhalation, ingestion and topical.

Inhalation

            It is the most common and ancient methods used by weed lovers to take weed. When you inhale marijuana, its gases enter your lungs to your bloodstream, before it spreads all over your body. Inhaling provides the user with immediate effects that last for a while. Nonetheless, health professionals agree that taking in all that smoke poses medical risks such as respiratory problems.

            One of the devices is hand pipes. A hand pipe is perhaps the most prevalent smoking device in the market today. Weed lovers favor it because it is small, handy, and easy to use. It operates by trapping smoke produced by burnt weed that the user then inhales. Two is a bong, which is a kind of water pipe used to smoke weed by the more experienced consumers. It uses water to make the smoke cool, remove carcinogens, making it smooth to inhale and produce an intense high. Three is a joint, which is the method most used to smoke weed. Joints are easy to make as they only require a bud and rolling paper. Rolling papers are in different varieties – hemp, wood pulp, rice, as well as flavored paper- which impact your experience, giving you a smooth burn. If you are a moderate of experienced cannabis consumer, try vaporizers. A vaporizer works by heating marijuana bud to just the right temperature, enough, so you extract all cannabinoids and reduce health risks and not so high that you take in harmful toxins .

 Ingestion method

            Ingestion delivery refers to techniques administered through the mouth. One of them is tinctures, which is a cannabis extract liquid taken by weed consumers looking for controlled dosage and quick effects. Usually, you place two to three drops of it under the tongue; swallow it, and its absorption takes place in the lining of the stomach and goes through the liver to control the dosage. Pills or capsules are ingestible containing weed in oil. They are a safe method of taking marijuana as they do not cause respiratory problems, they are discreet, and their effects last longer. Edibles such as pot brownies, candies, cookies, and other snacks include marijuana as one of their ingredients . The edibles provide a high that takes longer to hit but one whose intensity and duration is longer than that of other ingestible.

Topical method of delivery

            The method utilizes cannabis extracts made into oil after being decarboxylated to stimulate cannabinoids that ease its absorption into the skin. A topical delivery method such as sprays, topical creams or dermal patches do not arouse the brain but are useful in offering relief from pain and discomfort.

Can marijuana addiction lead to harder drugs?

            The question of if weed is an entry drug to harder drugs is among the most debated topics about cannabis. All people and experts alike hold different opinions with some contending that it leads to harder drugs while others argue that millions of its users do not use stronger drugs; hence, it does not.  Marijuana, according to several pieces of research precedes the use of harder illegal drugs.

            A study by the National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol Use and Related Disorders observed that adults who consumed marijuana developed alcohol dependency within three years of the research. Also, adults who used marijuana and had an alcohol problem developed a more severe addiction to alcohol within the same period. Animal studies interpreted such a situation by suggesting that beginning the use of weed increases the pleasure one gets from being intoxicated on other substances such as tobacco and alcohol in a process known as cross-sensitization. Cross-sensitization pushes people from using marijuana to other drugs such as meth, crack, and crystal meth to increase pleasure.  

            A sociology study argued that marijuana is the gateway drug for adolescents and young adults who live in a particular environment. Young people who endure struggle, poverty and psychological stress often look for avenues to dull their pain and feel better. Prescription pain killers, alcohol and marijuana, are their go-to solutions. Misusing substances such as marijuana increase the risk of these young people wanting to experiment with harder drugs for more relief. According to a 2012 Yale University study, women aged eighteen to twenty-five were more likely to abuse prescription drugs after abusing cannabis. The research discovered that 34% of those who were addicted to pain pills had abused marijuana before and were more likely to develop an addiction to drugs such as heroin, meth, and cocaine later in their lives. Moreover, the researchers concluded that cross-sensitization among teenagers was expected to lead to overdose and demise.

            These findings are consistent with the argument that marijuana can lead to one experimenting with harder drugs. In teenage years, exposure to the effects of cannabinoids results in the reduction of the brain rewarding center’s reaction. THC can push the brain to produce more responses with the presence of other drugs. So, for you to experience even a mild rush of dopamine- feel happy-one has to try stronger drugs to achieve it. Consequently, one becomes prone to addiction to marijuana but also harder drugs.

            The argument supports the notion that marijuana can make one vulnerable to harder drugs. However, out of the millions of cannabis consumers, only a small percentage end up using or addicted to other drugs. Alcohol and tobacco, despite being legal can also lead to the use of harder drugs. Moreover, other factors such as a person’s genetics and social environment determine whether one uses harder drugs or not. Nonetheless, people should avoid the use of marijuana particularly for recreation purposes because it is addictive and it brings about adverse effects. You can, however, take advantage of its therapeutic benefits.