Is Cannabis Truly Safe for Medical or Recreational Use?


Amidst the growing legalization and popularity of cannabis, both for medical and recreational purposes, several studies and expert opinions have raised concerns about its safety and implications for health. Harvard Health’s article titled “Cannabis is medicine — don’t make it taste good,” penned by Dr. Peter Grinspoon, particularly highlights the risks associated with the consumption of cannabis edibles. These concerns stem from various clinical incidents related to cannabis, notably when it’s consumed in edible forms like “space cakes.”

Harvard Health reports that modern marijuana may be significantly stronger than it was in the past, raising the stakes when it comes to its effects. The article emphasizes the drug’s potential to impair coordination and distort time perception, making activities like driving particularly hazardous. Additionally, it points out the increase in appetite and the difficulty in problem-solving as other notable side effects.

Is Cannabis Truly Safe for Medical or Recreational Use?

Contrasting the public perception of cannabis as a relatively harmless substance, Yasmin Hurd, a neuroscientist, suggests in a Harvard Gazette article that its increasing legality doesn’t equate to safety. This is echoed by Alvin Powell in another Harvard Gazette piece, which highlights a paradox: widespread public use of marijuana contrasts with a lack of comprehensive medical understanding of its effects.

The debate extends to the methods of consuming cannabis. Inhaling it, either by smoking or vaporizing, may offer rapid onset and easier dosage control, but also carries risks like lung irritation and chronic bronchitis, as mentioned in Harvard Health. Alternatives like under-the-tongue tinctures, edibles, topicals, or dry herb vaporizers are suggested to avoid these risks.

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Furthermore, the legalization of cannabis brings both benefits and challenges, as discussed in a Johns Hopkins publication. While legalization can regulate and tax cannabis, removing it from the illegal market, there’s still a significant knowledge gap as the science tries to keep up with evolving social norms and product varieties.

Particularly concerning is the potential cardiovascular risk associated with cannabis. Harvard Health outlines how marijuana can increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can be perilous for individuals with heart conditions. The risk of heart attack, for instance, may spike in the hour after smoking marijuana, as suggested in their article. Other research links marijuana use to atrial fibrillation, a serious heart rhythm disorder.

In conclusion, while cannabis may have medicinal benefits and is becoming more accepted legally, these insights point towards a need for cautious use and further research. The potential risks, particularly concerning edibles, impaired coordination, and cardiovascular health, warrant a more nuanced understanding and approach towards both medical and recreational cannabis use.

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