By: Gary Singh
Cannabis (hereinafter referred to as “marijuana” or “cannabis”) can have many positive and negative side effects. Despite an ongoing effort to legalize recreational marijuana across the country, and possibly even on a Federal level, there are rising concerns as to the safety and potential effects of its consumption. I will discuss the wide plethora of positive and negative effects of cannabis, and reach a conclusion as to whether the positives outweigh the negatives, or vice versa.
Marijuana contains two active ingredients, which are known as cannabidiol (“CBD”) and tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”). CBD has many benefits, such as relieving insomnia, anxiety, spasticity, pain, and even treating some conditions as epilepsy. Whereas CBD has benefits which are aforementioned, THC is the ingredient which causes the “high” in conjunction with consumption of marijuana.
Positive Effects of Cannabis
Marijuana can be consumed either recreationally, or for medical purposes. The positive effects of recreational marijuana include euphoria, relaxation and decreased anxiety, enhanced sensory experiences, laughter, and talkativeness. These effects can assist a person with various issues such public speaking, enhanced concentration, more focus with work and school, etc. With regards to the positive effects of medical marijuana, there are various benefits such as decreasing of inner-eye pressure, pain reduction (as mentioned above), suppression of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation. Medical marijuana helps to treat the symptoms associated with cancer (such as pain, nausea, and vomiting associated with it), chronic pain, multiple sclerosis symptoms (such as pain, muscle spasm, and urinary problems, and symptoms associated with Glaucoma, such as ocular pressure. Medical marijuana is also known to treat and relieve the symptoms of eczema, epilepsy, Huntington’s disease, and insomnia.
Marijuana’s effects have also reduced the opioid epidemic, as some studies show. “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. An in a review article published this year in Trends in Neuroscience, researchers wrote that cannabinoids may help people recover from opioid addiction.” These studies provide evidence that more people are relying on medical marijuana for pain in states where it is legal, and therefore, assisting in reducing the nation’s reliance on various forms of opioids.
Marijuana research has also shown that there has been properties contained within marijuana that allow it to “inhibit the growth of cancer cells outside of the human body,” but since research on this topic is limited, there has not been any proven trials for these findings. There has also been research on several “tumor-fighting properties” of marijuana, as evidenced by Gregory Gerdeman, PhD, who is an assistant professor of Biology at Eckerd College. In my opinion, there should be more studies conducted on this topic, as many people are effected by cancer each year. If marijuana can reduce the symptoms and effects of cancer, as well as possibly providing some sort of immunity towards it, this topic should be researched more, and further research conducted.
In addition to the benefits of marijuana listed above, there are also numerous negative side effects associated with the consumption of marijuana. In addition to the legality of marijuana, there are side effects such as abuse issues and increased tolerance (in conjunction with increased dosage). Additionally, whenever a marijuana-user chooses to engage in periods of abstinence, it can lead to withdrawal symptoms as well. There are various other side effects, such as altered senses, dizziness, tiredness, fatigue, reduced coordination, cognitive impairment, anxiety if there is overuse of marijuana or increase dosage, hallucinations, mood alterations, altered blood pressure, increased heart rate, flushing, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, tooth discoloration, increased appetite, skin rash, dry eyes, blurred vision, cough/sore throat, among others.
In addition to the side effects referenced above, there are other negative effects associated with smoking marijuana as well. One of the effects include side effects associate with the marijuana use by expectant parents, who sometimes turn to marijuana for recreational use, and/or to treat morning sickness. Studies indicate that there can be developmental health problems in kids, such as low birth weight, anemia, and impaired impulse, among others. According to the above information, women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the near future should try to avoid marijuana consumption at all costs, and should start practicing abstinence from marijuana earlier so that there are no withdrawal symptoms during, or just prior to, pregnancy.
Negative Effects of Marijuana
Among the negative side effects of marijuana consumption include users of the drug who experience heart problems. According to a recent study, “the researchers concluded that the absolute risk of cannabis-related cardiovascular effects is low, especially for healthy people. But they say that people who are at high risk for heart-related complications should avoid the use of cannabis, since it can have temporary effects on the cardiovascular system.” According to this study, users of marijuana who experience cardiovascular, or other heart-related issues should practice extra caution when engaging in marijuana consumption so that their systems are not aggravated by such use.
In addition to the aforementioned negative effects, marijuana still negatively impacts drivers. For example, “a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that insurance claim rates for motor vehicle accidents from 2012 to 2016 were about 3%.”
Even though there are positive and negative side effects to marijuana consumption, an individual must decide how much and to what extent he or she should consume marijuana. Medical marijuana has many benefits, and should be used under a doctor’s care, but since recreational marijuana is becoming legal in many states, users should take caution with the amount they smoke. In the cases of recreational marijuana, it should only be done in moderation, taking into account the side effects that are intertwined with heavy and frequent use.