As medicinal marijuana rises as a peak treatment for countless conditions, much of the public remains uneducated about its true power, use, and effectiveness. It is falsely believed by some that medical marijuana users take advantage of the opportunity to get high, when, in actuality, the drugs that are used and distributed for medical use typically do not contain the psychoactive component of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
THC is just one of over 80 chemical compounds in marijuana, referred to as cannabinoids, and is known to elicit a euphoric high. In the medical field, however, THC is used to increase the appetites of AIDS and cancer sufferers, as well as to reduce nausea and vomiting. For this particular purpose, the drug Marinol became FDA-approved in 1985, and is still in use today. Additionally, THC also assuages inflammation and improves muscle control.
On the other hand, cannabidiol, or CBD, is a less psychoactive compound in marijuana that has beneficial impacts for physical and psychological maladies. CBD has the power to relieve seizure symptoms, provide neuroprotection from diseases like Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis, defend against tumors, treat opioid addiction, and serve as an antipsychotic for schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (OnHealth).
One of the most profound results of cannabis treatment is the effect it has on children and adults on the autism spectrum. One such example is four-year-old Texan, Jonathan Valenzuela Jr., who was diagnosed at three with autism. Jonathan faced profound social and development barriers prior to using cannabis oil, which his parents infuse into his yogurt. This treatment has allowed Jonathan to make incredible advancements in all aspects of his life, and to do things that his parents could never have expected from him (Cannabis Capitol). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 68 American children is affected by autism, and 30 percent of those children also suffer from epilepsy. Interestingly, both conditions are anecdotally proven to be lessened by cannabis (USA Today).
Besides its medicinal properties, one of the greatest things about medical marijuana is the amount of freedom a patient receives to use it. Depending on the ailment, the dose, frequency, and the method of treatment can be controlled, which gives users freedom to treat themselves as they see fit. In explaining the benefits of medical marijuana, Dr. David Casarett addressed this issue by explaining, “Our bodies will betray us, and in that process, we lose control” (TedMed). This biological behavior is something to be wary of in many medical situations, and can be difficult to monitor, but this drug relieves some of that pressure and has proven to be more flexible.
Despite the advantages, medicinal marijuana is not risk-free. Its use comes with a variety of potential short-term symptoms such as fatigue and poor memory, and patients are vulnerable to dependence as well (OnHealth). Research on its abilities is largely worth-while but is restricted in the United States due to legal precautions placed against the drug. Harvard-trained physician, Dr. Alan Shackleford caused an uproar for similar research in 2013 but had a difficult time conducting in-depth research. “I was meeting nothing but closed doors to study something that was so clearly beneficial,” Shackleford stated. The nation of Israel, however, is a pioneer in medical marijuana research, first permitting its use in 1992. It is now one of only three countries to have government-sponsored programs for its use and distribution (USA Today).
Although research in America on medicinal marijuana is not yet cutting-edge, the solutions that the drug has already exhibited are giving faith to the medical community. By educating the public and medical professionals on its beneficial powers, hopefully further action will be taken to expand upon what is already known.