Health benefits of medical marijuana opens legalization debate

medical marijuana

There are some potential health risks of marijuana but there also seems to be countless benefits

Marijuana is a mind-altering, psychoactive, drug similar to hemp that comes from the cannabis plant. It is often used for the high that it gives altering the senses causing time distortion, impaired thinking, and lack of coordination. In some people, it may lead to paranoia or anxiety.

When it comes to the long-term effect, smoking marijuana can irritate the lungs and lead to breathing problems related to excess mucus, bronchitis, and worsening of conditions like asthma and cystic fibrosis.

However, despite all these potential risks, this drug has been legalized in many countries around the world for its medical properties. The term “medical marijuana” refers to the use of the whole, unprocessed plant and its pure extracts to treat a disease or improve a symptom. It must be sourced from a medicinal-grade cannabis shrub that has been meticulously grown without the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers.

Here are five health benefits of medical marijuana that you probably haven’t heard of:

The American Academy of Ophthalmology describes glaucoma as a condition in which the optic nerve is damaged over long periods of time. It can limit vision and sometimes lead to blindness. The link between glaucoma and marijuana has been studied since the 1970s, as smoking the drug has been found to lower eye pressure. It has been speculated that it can slow the progression of the disease.
 
It is widely known that marijuana possesses anti-inflammatory benefits helpful to patients who suffer from arthritis and cancer, amongst others. A study published by the University of Colorado found that using the drug topically can alleviate pain and may be effective against eczema, psoriasis, atopic and contact dermatitis. More and more dermatologists are encouraging the use of the cannabinoid cream.
 
A study on addictive behaviors found that those who consume marijuana occasionally or even daily have lower levels of depressive symptoms than those who have never tried marijuana. The study added that weekly users had less depressed mood, more positive affects, and fewer somatic complaints than non-users.
 
Medical marijuana users claim the drug helps relieve pain and suppress nausea, the two main reasons it's often used to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy. In 2010, researchers at Harvard Medical School suggested that that some of its benefits may actually be from reduced anxiety, which would improve the smoker's mood and act as a sedative in low doses.
A study published in the American Journal of Medicine suggested that pot smokers are skinnier than the average person, have healthier metabolism, and possess a favorable reaction to sugars, even though they do end up eating more calories because of what’s commonly known as the munchies.

When it comes to Latin America, the feelings towards legalization of marijuana vary. These countries can be grouped into three main categories, those who are conservatives and have a strict drug policy and perceptions of risks of cannabis use (Peru, Bolivia, and El Salvador), Chile and Uruguay are nations that are more likely to support drug policy reform, and, on the other hand, countries like Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico tend to keep their policies heavily centered avoiding extremes.

Now, when looking at the bigger picture, the enormous health, economic, and social benefits this drug has had on society it’s perhaps inevitable to legalize it. Let´s see what the future brings.

Prepared by

LatinAmerican Post | Luisa Fernanda Baez

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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