Marijuana, also known as cannabis, bhang, weed, ganja, among other names, is a drug that is smoked or ingested for euphoric effect. It is one of the most abused recreational drugs in the world, after Alcohol and Tobacco. It’s found in the flowers (buds), leaves, seeds and stems of an Indian hemp plant (cannabis plant). The drug has been used in the past for different purposes like recreational, medical and spiritual uses.
It can be consumed in different ways like through smoking, vaporization, cannabis tea, as an extract or edible by adding it to food as an ingredient. The drug is mainly abused because of its psychoactive and mind-altering effects associated with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compound found in the plant.
Though the use of marijuana for medical purposes has not been rigorously tested due to government regulations and other restrictions, recent scientific studies have discovered more than 65 chemicals, called cannabinoids, in the cannabis plant leading to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve two medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Currently, only two cannabinoids have been proved to some extent to have medicinal value; delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
The THC may be used to reduce nausea, increase appetite, and also to treat inflammation, muscle control complications and for pain reduction. CBD can be useful in treating inflammation, reducing pain, treating mental illness, and to control addictions and epileptic seizures. Scientific researches have also indicated that marijuana can aid in treatment of glaucoma, spasticity, neuropathic pain, movement disorders and in protection of the body against malignant tumors.
Some countries have passed legislation legalizing marijuana for medical use. Drugs like Dronabinol (Marinol) and Nabilone (Cesamet), both of which contain THC have been approved in countries like the United States and Canada for use in treating nausea, vomiting and increasing appetite. In those countries, the two drugs have also been prescribed to cancer and AIDS patients. Sativex (Nabiximol).
Another medicine from the cannabis plant containing THC and CBD has been approved in the United Kingdom, Canada and in other several European countries to treat muscle control problems and relief of pain in multiple sclerosis. Another drug (liquid) containing CBD, known as Epidiolex, was recently created by scientists to treat certain forms of childhood epilepsy, though it’s yet to undergo clinical trials, it shows that continued research on the cannabis plant may lead to more medications.
No death case has been reported as a result of marijuana overdose and it’s far less dangerous compared to alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana being a drug like alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, it too has side effects arising from its use, for instance; increase in heart rate, reduced blood pressure, dizziness, hallucinations, depression, memory impairment, decrease in muscle strength, reduced concentration, reduced reaction time, impairs depth perception, decrease in hand steadiness, may affect the fetus when used by pregnant women and can also cause toxic psychosis.
But when used heavily and regularly, some of the long-term effects from the use of marijuana include; risk of cancer, irritation of the respiratory system, addiction, prolonged memory impairment, may affect one’s ability to process complex information for a long time and when used by people with schizophrenia, it heightens psychotic symptoms and worsens the illness. Marijuana has been used by humans as traditional medicine for quite a very long-time, though without scientific backing.
With controlled measures, it will be prudent for other countries all over the world to enact legislations that will allow scientists to carry on extensive studies on the cannabis plant with an aim of identifying more medicinal components. Of all the wrongs associated with possession or use of marijuana, none is more awful as denying medical cannabis to patients who want to benefit from its therapeutic use.