Cannabis is the source of one of the most familiar drugs in the world. The name applies to a group of flowering plants known for their psychoactive substances. The most common sub-species known are Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Their flowers are collected and dried to produce marijuana or pot.
To this day, cannabis is mostly a regulated substance. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) lists it as a Schedule 1 drug, alongside other potent drugs, like meth, ecstasy, and heroin. Drugs and substances classified as Schedule 1 are dangerous and have a ‘high’ potential for user dependence and abuse.
However, in recent years, there’s growing interest in developing the use of cannabis to treat various health problems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has even approved an epilepsy drug containing cannabidiol (CBD), a substance derived from cannabis. Also, many U.S. states have already legalized marijuana use for medical purposes.
There’s no denying that the debate about using cannabis for various therapies is far from over. The proponents and opponents of medicinal cannabis have valid reasons to support their beliefs. But you don’t have to risk getting caught in the crossfire of whether cannabis can be used in various therapies or not. Instead, it would be best to decide for yourself.
To help you out, below are the pros and cons of medical cannabis that you need to know.
Many proponents of medicinal cannabis believe that marijuana can help in the treatment of various diseases. Primarily because of these perceived benefits, the market for cannabis extract is on track to be worth over $23 billion in 2025.
Here are the common advantages cited by the pro-cannabis side:
It’s no secret that cannabis has relaxing effects. For this reason, medical marijuana aims to help people suffering from anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The main psychoactive compound in cannabis, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), may reduce nervousness in people.
One of the most common uses for medicinal cannabis is for pain relief. Marijuana appears to have positive effects on reducing muscle spasms and pain. Also, many patients who have multiple sclerosis have been allowed cannabis use.
Medicinal marijuana can also help reduce dependence on opioids present in prescription painkillers. Opioids are more dangerous and addictive compared to cannabis and its extracts. This is why states that have legalized medical marijuana saw fewer opioid-based painkillers prescribed each year than other states that have yet to legalize cannabis use.
Cannabis and its extract products possess analgesic properties that may help against insomnia and sleep apnea.
In 2018, the U.S. FDA approved the use of cannabidiol to help aid patients who have either Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.
A study has been conducted to investigate how CBD and THC can slow the progression and help treat Alzheimer’s disease. The results showed that these cannabis substances could suppress the factors that cause Alzheimer’s disease when used together.
Eliminating inflammation in many parts of the body is crucial for a person’s overall health. Thankfully, the cannabidiol substance in marijuana may help soothe inflammation. Because of this, cannabis use may be recommended for people who have rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. Such conditions are caused by inflammation in areas like the joints and intestines.
Often, those against marijuana use for medical purposes point to the following disadvantages as the basis for their disapproval of marijuana:
Some marijuana users may suffer from CHS, characterized by severe vomiting accompanied by abdominal pains and nausea. This condition has been observed in prolonged and daily cannabis use. Also, people who suffer from CHS may end up in emergency rooms.
Even if some pregnant women use cannabis to fight off morning sickness associated with pregnancy and for recreational purposes, do note that marijuana has been linked to developmental and health complications among infants.
A child who has been exposed to cannabis while still in the mother’s womb may experience anemia, memory deficiency, low birth weight, and attention deficit disorder, which is why expecting moms should avoid marijuana and other cannabis-derived products.
Marijuana users report that they experience faster heartbeats and increased blood pressure after taking in the substance. It can be problematic for older people and those who have existing heart conditions.
Cannabis has also been linked to atrial fibrillation, a common form of rhythm disorder in the heart.
Marijuana may cause hallucinations, resulting in poor motor skills, impaired judgment, and even psychotic episodes. It’s the reason why the risk of getting into a vehicular accident is higher after marijuana use. Drivers who have traces of the cannabis substance, THC, in their blood are more likely to figure in fender benders or fatal crashes.
It appears that marijuana, like alcohol, doesn’t mix well with driving or any other activities that require thinking and precise muscle movements.
Regardless of whether marijuana becomes fully legalized and accepted by mainstream society, using the substance via smoking can harm the lungs and other organs in the respiratory system. The fact that smoking can kill remains true for both tobacco and marijuana products.
Instead of smoking marijuana, it may be safer for people using medicinal cannabis to try other means of taking the substance. Edibles, vaporizers, and CBD products are common means of absorbing cannabis into the body.
While it’s true that many U.S. states have legalized marijuana, strict regulation of the substance persists. Plus, other states continue to criminalize cannabis use, whether for medicinal purposes or otherwise.
As mentioned, the DEA still categorizes marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance. Therefore, using marijuana carelessly can land you in jail even if you qualify for its medical use. Thus, make sure to know the relevant laws in your state or city.
Cannabis is now the subject of many studies. Experts are trying to determine if the plant and the substances derived from it have therapeutic use.
Even though more U.S. states have legalized cannabis and the U.S. FDA has approved cannabidiol for epilepsy treatment, people are still divided as to the pros and cons of medicinal marijuana. The debate on the benefits and legality of cannabis is far from over. But, ultimately, the choice to use or not use this substance is on you.