The discourse surrounding the health impacts of cannabis is ever-evolving, with numerous studies yielding results that both advocate for and caution against its use. Medical cannabis, which refers to the use of marijuana or its components for health purposes, has been linked with several potential health benefits. These range from the management of pain and inflammation to the possibility of aiding in addiction treatment.
For instance, Harvard Health acknowledges the therapeutic use of cannabis for easing pain associated with conditions like multiple sclerosis and nerve pain—a noteworthy consideration given the limited efficacy and side effects of other treatments like Neurontin, Lyrica, or opiates. It is also suggested to potentially assist patients grappling with the debilitating effects of HIV.
The medical use of cannabis has been found to help certain epileptic conditions, as documented under Mississippi Code 41-29-136 (2017), also known as Harper Grace’s Law. This legislation facilitates clinical research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center with cannabis, primarily for pediatric patients.
Emerging research suggests that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, may offer relief from inflammation and neuropathic pain. A study from the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research indicates that CBD might help reduce these conditions. Additionally, CBD’s potential in preventing relapse in drug and alcohol addiction was highlighted in a 2018 study, hinting at its promise as a therapeutic agent in addiction treatment.
An unexpected area where cannabis may play a role is in the decrease of opioid prescriptions. A Harvard Health publication notes that access to medical marijuana corresponds with a reduction in opioid prescribing rates, pointing towards its possible role in managing pain without the reliance on opioids.
However, there is a flip side. The increase in cannabis use among older adults, as per a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that while stigma is reducing, the implications of such an increase are not fully understood. Although older individuals may find relief in cannabis use, the associated risks, particularly mental health risks, should not be overlooked. For instance, there is evidence indicating that cannabis use can trigger psychotic symptoms and potentially exacerbate issues like psychosis and schizophrenia, especially in individuals with a family history of these conditions.
When it comes to cardiovascular health, the picture remains unclear. Cannabis has been recognized to accelerate heart rate and elevate blood pressure, which might pose a risk to individuals with pre-existing heart conditions. The hazards associated with smoking marijuana are comparable to those of smoking cigarettes, which are known to contribute to heart disease and cancer.
It’s important to approach the conversation about cannabis with nuance, acknowledging both its potential health benefits and risks. With more research, the medical community may be better positioned to guide the use of cannabis in a way that maximizes its therapeutic value while minimizing harm.