The legalization of cannabis has been a century-long debate and over the course of many years, there has been compelling evidence coming both from those who advocate for and protested against the legalization of cannabis.
There are 111 different cannabinoids in marijuana, all having different effect on smokers, THC and CBD being the most common ones. Medical benefits uncovered in recent studies suggest further research into the plausible application of marijuana is more than necessary.
Though further research is needed, we have comprised a list of both positive and negative effects of smoking marijuana, derived from the previously conducted studies.
There is currently little evidence that smoking cannabis can cause significant health problems. In western countries, people have been smoking marijuana for decades and there have not yet been any reported causes of lung cancer, emphysema or any other diseases. On the contrary, studies have shown that marijuana aids in glaucoma, Type 2 Diabetes and epilepsy treatment, as well as cancer. Nevertheless, even in countries in which marijuana has been decriminalized for medical use, doctors mostly prescribe it to patients for pain relief, and those who suffer from anxiety, stress and insomnia.
Short-term paranoia and anxiety vs long-term depression
Then again, it is of prime importance to emphasize that regardless of the type of strain you prefer, some kind of short-term side-effect is imminent. Dry mouth, dry eyes, fatigue, dizziness and increased heart rate are just some of the most common ones. Furthermore, due to the effect marijuana has on a specific brain region responsible for fear, in some cases smokers reported feeling paranoid and anxious. Yet, when it comes to depression, it is a bit more difficult to overcome. The only issue behind it is that researchers are unable to prove whether people opt for cannabis in order to treat depression or is it a cannabis-induced illness.
In 2012, the National Academy of Sciences of the USA published a research that showed persistent cannabis users are prone to neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. It showed cannabis has an impact on neurobehavioral functioning and subjective mental status. These side-effects are most commonly found in heavy users who are most likely to get addicted to cannabis.
However, as the years went by, additional researches have been conducted, which have caused this one to became a myth. And like a number of others, it has been debunked. According to the Carleton University study, smokers who consume 5 joints a week or less had higher IQs than their non-smoking subjects. After accessing IG, memory, processing speed, vocabulary, attention and abstract reasoning, the researchers concluded that moderate smokers scored the highest.
In the USA alone, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from some type of eating disorder and bulimia, anorexia and obesity are just some of the most common ones. Statistics show that cannabis users eat 600 calories more per day than non-smokers. For this reason, a number of people who struggle with lack of appetite can benefit from marijuana, as it causes food cravings, while kicking metabolism into overdrive. Moreover, cannabis users are known for their lower BMI and smaller waistlines and it is known for cutting the risk of becoming obese, partly because it helps you regulate blood sugar levels.
In the end, one of the most prominent fears when it comes to marijuana consumptions is related to addiction. Recent data suggests that around 30 percent of smokers may have some degree of marijuana use disorder, usually associated with dependence. In such instances, users claim to feel moody, irritated, depressed and restless. Less commonly, people reported suffering from insomnia and a lack of appetite which eventually resulted in some kind of eating disorder.
Ultimately, we can conclude that there is little evidence to prove that marijuana is either beneficial or threatening to our overall health. The problem is that we classify marijuana as a ‘drug’, which is defined as any substance which, when consumed, causes psychological changes in the body. Additional investment in research regarding the medical benefits of marijuana is necessary in order to get valid proof which will support either side of the debate and find out whether we should fear the above mentioned ‘psychological changes’.