For centuries, doctors have been finding new ways to combat diseases, including the introduction of using cannabis to help deal with cancer, weight issues and other ailments. Though there are many benefits of using cannabis products, there are many side effects and addiction concerns surrounding the use of medical marijuana. To fully understand its benefits it is important to have a knowledge of what is cannabis and how it can be properly used.
What is cannabis?
According to the University of Washington, the cannabis drug is derived from the cannabis plant. It is one of the most versatile plants, meaning it easily grows in just about any climate and is known to grow wild in tropical areas of the world. It can even be grown and cultivated indoors. With a little research, just about anyone can plant, grow and cultivate the plant.
Delta-9 tetrahydro-canabinol, also known as TCH, is the main active ingredient found in cannabis. This is the part of the plant that gives you that feeling of being high when it is ingested or inhaled. Cannabis is commonly used in three forms – marijuana, hash oil and hashish.
- Marijuana: This form is made by drying the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. This form is the least potent of the three forms and is commonly smoked or made into edible treats, such as cookies or brownies. Marijuana is the most common form of cannabis that is smoked. It is also referred to as pot, week and herb.
- Hash oil: This form is the most potent of the three and is the thick oil that is obtained from creating hashish. Hash oil can also be smoked or baked into goodies.
- Hashish: This form is derived from the resin, a secreted gum, from within the cannabis plant. It is then dried, pressed into small blocks and smoked. Hashish can also be used when cooking and baking.
What is cannabis sativa?
According to Patient’s Marijuana, there are three different kinds of cannabis plants – sativa, indica and ruderalis. Cannabis sativa is a tall thin plant with narrower leaves. It is lighter in color and grows very quickly, often growing 20 feet tall in a single season. This type of plant originated from Colombia, Mexico, Thailand and Southeast Asia.
The high achieved from using products from the sativa plant are mostly cerebral, offering a feeling of being up and very energetic. Users commonly experience fits of laughter and long discussions about nothing to no one. Effects of the cannabis sativa plant are known to be stronger and last longer, offering ultimate pain relief when used for medicinal purposes.
What is cannabis oil?
Cannabis oil, also referred to as hash oil, is created by using the process of a solvent extraction of the resinous matrix of the cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. This is the most potent of the three main cannabis products and most common among medicinal cannabis products.
According to Cure Your Own Cancer, cannabis oil sold by dealers could be tainted with different containments and many oils produced by dealers have little to no THC. That is why hash oil should only be purchased through a certified pharmacy when using it for medicinal purposes. Otherwise the desired results may not be achieved.
What type of drug is cannabis?
According to the University of Maryland, it is almost impossible to put cannabis is a particular drug classification. This is due to the variety of effects the drug has on the body. Depending upon the form of the drug being used, cannabis can be a stimulant, a hallucinogen and a depressant.
Cannabis oil contains high amounts of antioxidant properties and is very useful in treatment of age-related conditions. It can also be mixed with beauty products, such as shaving creams and lotions, for external beauty treatments.
Other names for cannabis oils include marijuana oil, Rick Simpson Oil, Full extract cannabis oil, dabs, shatter and wax.
What are the effects of cannabis?
According to WebMD, cannabis is the most frequently used illegal drug in America with approximately four percent of adults smoking it at least once a year. Approximately one percent of adult users abuse marijuana and one in 300 are addicted to the drug.
Physiological effects of marijuana include:
- Rapid heartbeats (increased rates between 20-100 percent)
- High blood pressure
- Increased rate of breathing
- Red, dry eye
- Dry mouth
- Increased hunger, also known as the “munchies”
- Drastic slowdown in reaction time
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, psychological effects of marijuana are generally short-term and include:
- Off-balanced sense of time
- Extreme paranoia
- Thinking randomly and having magical ideas
- Memory loss
- Reduced inhibitions
The effects of marijuana generally diminish within three to four hours, however, the drug remains in your system for many weeks and could linger up to one month after use. Thus meaning you could still be impaired until the drug has fully worked its way out of your system. Which is also the reason why many fail drug tests weeks after using marijuana.
What are the medical benefits of cannabis?
Medicinally, cannabis is used to treat a variety of conditions. It is designed to be taken orally, vaporized and inhaled and used topically. When used medicinally, doctors prescribe cannabis to patients to help with pain, medical ailments, anxiety and to help existing diseases spread.
Cannabis oil is commonly used to help treat the following conditions:
- Chron’s disease
- Chronic pain
- Multiple sclerosis
- Doose syndrome
- Muscle spasms
- And so much more
The same benefits can be achieved by taking THC pills or smoking the marijuana. According to the Business Insider, some research is even showing that the benefits of the THC pills are far greater than inhaling when smoking the dried cannabis leaves or vaporizing the oil.
One example of how marijuana can help medicinally is its use to help treat and prevent eye disease. Use of marijuana helps decrease the pressure inside the eye that builds when suffering from glaucoma. Cannabis helps slow the progression of the disease and helps prevent blindness.
Another example is marijuana can help prevent and control epileptic seizures. Findings by the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics show that marijuana had rid epileptic rats of seizures for about 10 hours after ingesting THC.
Are there side effects associated with cannabis?
Just as with any other drug on the market today, side effects are rare, but can be experienced when taking any form of cannabis. According to WebMD, these side effects include:
- The development of heart disease
- The immune system becoming weakened
- The development of lung disease
- The development of seizure disorders
- Creating issues with the central nervous system when needing surgery
- Becoming addicted to the drug
Is it possible to become addicted to cannabis?
According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is possible to develop a cannabis dependence when regularly using the drug for extended periods of time. However, because of the controversy over whether the drug is useful or not medicinally, there are very few reports available proving marijuana can be addicting.
Just like with any other drug or even alcohol, users can become addicted to cannabis, creating a need to use, versus a want to use the drug. Meaning it is not likely to become addicted after one use. But once addicted, those who abruptly stop using marijuana tend to feel irritable, suffer from insomnia, lose their appetite, and become anxious, depressed and agitated.
Rehab centers, counseling and therapy are available to help those suffering from a cannabis addiction. While undergoing treatment for a marijuana addiction, the feelings of withdrawal will hit around the third or fourth day of not smoking the drug. Within a week or so all symptoms of a marijuana addiction will be gone. Making it the easiest drug to stop using and recover from being an addict.
What are the signs of marijuana addiction?
Some signs you or someone you know may be addicted to marijuana include:
- Increased tolerance to the drug
- Feelings of withdrawal when not smoking the drug
- Smoke more than intended to
- Cannot cut down use
- Spend most free time getting high
- Decreased participation in activities just to allow more time to smoke pot
- Continue to smoke marijuana regardless of the consequences and side effects
- Become dependent on the drug just to relax
As more and more states are starting to legalize marijuana for medical uses, the debate continues as to whether or not it should be legalized for recreation uses too. With a little education and a better understanding of the drug, we will be able to put it to work helping those in need and offer help to those suffering from a pot addiction.