Medical marijuana: is it all that safe?


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CBD oil is one of 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants, used to alleviate pain.

Jamie Adams, Staff Writer

Marijuana, or cannabis, is commonly known as a recreational drug that has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. Although illegal in many states, 33, including the District of Columbia have legalized the drug for recreational usage. Medical marijuana has many positives, but are people overlooking the negatives? 

Cannabis sativa, an herbaceous plant, contains many active compounds, the most important for medical use are: Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is a mind-altering ingredient that leaves the individual feeling a “high.” The amount of THC in marijuana varies and has been increasing over the past few decades. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse  the average content of THC was 3.7 percent in the 90s and to 9.6 percent in 2013.  

CBD is the other important chemical that also has beneficial health effects. Unlike THC, this chemical is not psychoactive and does not cause the intoxicating effects. Like THC, CBD helps to relieve pain that the individual might be feeling but does not produce the “high: According to Laura BorgeltPharmD, of the University of Colorado, “Your body already makes marijuana-like chemicals that affect pain, inflammation, and many other processes. Marijuana can sometimes help those natural chemicals work better.” 

Pain is the main reason why people ask for this prescription, as it is used to relieve their symptoms. Doctors prescribe medical marijuana for diseases like cancer, serious migraines, seizure disorders and muscle spasms. This medicine is not used to cure or treat diseases, but rather to ease the symptoms, improving their quality of life.  

Despite helping the alleviation of pain, medical marijuana has many downfalls. One possible risk of cannabis is addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that “30 percent of marijuana users may become addicted, and people who smoke marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults. 

Another danger of smoking marijuana is that it has some of the same compounds as smoking tobacco which leads to lung cancer. This leaves researchers puzzled as smoking marijuana can lead to the link of deadly diseases, such as cancer. This raises a high concern for the health effects on the user’s lungs. 

All medicine has side effects; however, the effects of medical marijuana are dangerous and can lead to an increased heart rate, light headedness, short-term memory loss, and decreased problem-solving skills. The frightening fact is that this medicine alters your sensory perception, slowing your reaction time and impairing your motor control.  

No one is fully aware of the severity of its long-term effects, leaving its users unaware and at risk to future problems. Senior, Macy Layton comments on medical marijuana by stating, “We don’t know the dangers of this medicine as there is not enough research to support the fact that it is completely safe.” This overlooked medicine could simply be helpful in the short-term perspective, but harmful to the body in the future.