Do marijuana’s benefits outweigh its risks? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of the drug
As more states legalize marijuana, it’s important to know the pros and cons of pot—and what exactly it might do for your health. For more detailed information visit vaprzon.
Health looked at recent research and spoke with several experts about who might want to try it, who should avoid it, and what any marijuana user should know.
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It may help with anxiety and PTSD
The relaxing effects of marijuana are well known, so it’s not surprising that a 2016 paper in the journal Clinical Psychology Review concluded that it may have benefits for people with depression, social anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. A study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence also found that a very low dose of THC, one of the main compounds in marijuana, helped people feel less nervous about a public-speaking task.
But it may not be that simple: That dose was equivalent to only a few puffs on a marijuana cigarette, say the study authors. They also found that slightly higher amounts of TCH—anything that would produce even a mild high—actually made anxiety worse. Other research has also suggested that marijuana may be more harmful than helpful for people with certain mental health conditions, like psychosis or bipolar disorder.
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The research “indicates cannabinoids could be helpful for people with anxiety,” lead author Emma Childs, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago, tells Health. But more research is needed, she says, to determine appropriate dosages and delivery methods, and to prevent the opposite effects from happening.
It can relieve chronic pain and nausea
Pain relief is a common use for medical marijuana, and the National Academies of Sciences concluded there is indeed good evidence to support this practice. Marijuana products also appear to be effective at calming muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis and easing nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, the report stated.
The National Academies also determined that there is moderate evidence that cannabis or cannabis-derived products may help people who have trouble sleeping due to sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, or chronic pain.
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People with epilepsy may benefit—even kids
In a New England Journal of Medicine study, cannabidiol oil—a derivative of marijuana—reduced seizures by 39% in children with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. That was big news for parents who have been using medical marijuana for years, often illegally, to help their kids suffering from this debilitating condition.
The cannabidiol oil used in the study—approved by the FDA in 2018 and marketed as Epidiolex—won’t make people high, because it doesn’t contain THC. Experts say that results may be riskier and more unpredictable with other marijuana products. Read more about leanbiome.
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It may be a safer alternative to opioids
Despite beliefs that marijuana is a “gateway drug,” research suggests that the use of medical marijuana may actually reduce dependence on dangerous prescription painkillers like those fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic.
In a 2016 study in the journal Health Affairs, researchers found that there were 1,826 fewer daily doses of painkillers prescribed per year, on average, in states where medical marijuana was legal compared to states it’s not. And in a review article published in Trends in Neuroscience, researchers wrote that cannabinoids may help people recover from opioid addiction. Human trials have been limited because of marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug—but the authors argue that more studies are urgently needed.