Many are convinced that marijuana is the way forward for a free and health future. For others, the issue of the health effects of marijuana is not quite so clear cut and many concerns remain. The scientific benefits of weed are astounding, and multiple conditions are believed to be alleviated to a degree through regular weed use.
How Marijuana Works
The reason marijuana works so well is because of THC, which mimics a compound naturally found in the human body; anandamide. This “bliss” molecule works on the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain (primarily, there are receptors in the skin which make topicals effective), and these receptors are responsible for pain, pleasure, mood, emotions, memory, hunger, sleep and temperature. All these processes are obviously quite important to healthy functioning. Because THC mimics a naturally occurring molecule in the body, it obviously cannot do any real harm.
Advantages of Marijuana
In terms of the advantages of weed, there is no shortage of data. Anecdotally, millions of people have been using marijuana for thousands of years, recreationally and medicinally. It is clear and obvious that the plant is effective as a pain reliver, for relaxation and stress in general and for insomnia. We do not need studies to confirm the obvious, and too many make the mistake of being overly reliant on studies to prove things to them, things that are obvious to those with any degree of commons sense and practicality. But there are a number of concrete studies proving marijuana to be effective at pain relief, for insomnia and for rest and relaxation.
One lesser known advantage of weed is that it helps people to lose weight, despite the fact that weed smokers eat more food than their sober counterparts. Studies have demonstrated that weed users had smaller hip to stomach ratios than other groups, and this ratio is actually a key indicator of heart disease and other cardiac conditions. A protruding belly is a hazard sign for poor health. Though it has not been concluded, the reason that marijuana does this is because it allegedly speeds up metabolism. Gym junkies, athletes and people looking to lose a few pounds have been searching for years and paying lots of money for synthetic items that did not work and actively harmed the body. And a plant that has been smoked for thousands of years does just that.
Disadvantages of Marijuana
The disadvantages of marijuana are not so much related to the substance itself, but more to the abuse of the substance. Studies have shown that young adults who ingest marijuana on a daily basis score lower and have lower IQ levels as compared to similarly aged adults. But there were many criticismsof this study and in any case, it represents a tiny sample set of adults who already had preexisting conditions. Still, it is quite obvious that using weed daily is not an intelligent choice for future generations. And even for adults there is no real reason to be stoned the majority of the time. An obvious disadvantage is that weed users are generally less motivated that others, though this can also be construed as a good thing, that they are more at ease and more laid back.
The effects of weed on memory are uncertain. weed has been proven to reduce short term memory while the user is high, but these effects are not sustained, meaning there are no long-term effects for smokers. Some studies suggest that short term memory can be impaired in long term smokers (over 5 years regularly) but this is a once off and the majority of studies suggest that this is not the case.
The Ever-Present Jury
Things might get a little bit tricky in terms of certain types of illnesses. Schizophrenia has mixed results, with some studies claiming that marijuana can help and others saying that it exacerbatessymptoms. This is a complicated illness and it is best dealt with on an individual basis.
Most psychological illnesses are created from a number of reported behaviors and have no underlying chemical basis other than human observations such as twitching, inability to focus and concentrate as well as conversation skills. These mental disorders are created from a manual known as the DSM, with no underlying chemical basis, meaning that the whole psychiatric industry has nothing to do with what people could typically call science, which has to have a biological marker. In the last decade, the most popular theory was that all mental illnesses were a result of chemical imbalances termed neurotransmitter deficiencies. But this has faded away and will soon be replaced with a more modern theory.
The implication from an analysis of marijuana disadvantages is that we will never know for sure how effective marijuana is in the treatment of mental disorders. Because there are so many misdiagnoses and because one doctor’s schizophrenia is another’s ADHD, studying the effects of marijuana on mental disorders is somewhat pointless. The jury is still out on whether marijuana is effective for the treatment of a range of psychiatric illnesses, and always will be, with phantom conditions on trial.