Is Cannabis Truly Safe? Understanding the Risks and Precautions

Is Cannabis Truly Safe? Understanding the Risks and Precautions

The evolving landscape of cannabis legalization has raised critical questions about its safety and health implications. With 33 states permitting medical use and 11 for recreational purposes, a paradox remains: widespread public usage contrasts with limited scientific understanding of its effects.

Harvard Health advises safe cannabis use, cautioning against smoking, which can harm the lungs. Alternatives like under-the-tongue tinctures, edibles, topicals, or dry herb vaporizers are recommended. If smoking, they suggest not holding the smoke in the lungs for more than a couple of seconds to minimize irritation​​.

Stanford University School of Medicine research revealed a brain substance, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), similar to cannabis’s psychoactive component, which can both alleviate and provoke seizures. This finding complicates our understanding of cannabis’s neurological effects​​.

Harvard Staff Writer Alvin Powell highlights the medical community’s ongoing struggle to comprehend marijuana’s effects amidst its increasing legality. The lack of comprehensive research creates an uncertain scenario for both medical and recreational users​​.

Columbia University’s “Go Ask Alice!” platform emphasizes the potential risks associated with moderate marijuana use, such as impaired cognitive functions, cardiovascular disease, and more frequent respiratory infections. It raises doubts about the long-term health implications of marijuana usage​​.

Johns Hopkins University discusses the risks of marijuana toxicity, especially with delayed-effect products like edibles. Symptoms of toxicity include hypotension, panic, anxiety, and delirium, indicating the potential dangers of marijuana misuse​​.

Marijuana’s impact on heart health is a significant concern. Harvard Health warns that marijuana smoke contains harmful substances, increasing the risk of heart disease and cancer. It also stresses the elevated risk of heart attack following marijuana usage​​.

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Despite its growing acceptance, Harvard Correspondent Clea Simon points out that the assumption of cannabis’s safety may be misplaced. The therapeutic benefits are often juxtaposed with risks, particularly for users over 55 years old​​.

Inhalation of cannabis, either by smoking or vaporizing, offers rapid onset and easier dosage control. However, these methods also pose risks like lung irritation and the need for frequent dosing due to the short-lived therapeutic effect​​.

Marijuana’s cardiovascular risks cannot be overlooked. Studies suggest a link between marijuana use and atrial fibrillation, alongside other heart-related risks. This highlights the necessity for caution, especially among individuals with preexisting heart conditions​​.

Harvard Medical School experts assert that while cannabis may offer benefits for certain conditions, it also carries risks. The widespread dialogue about cannabis’s positives must be balanced with an understanding of its potential negatives​​.

In conclusion, while cannabis may offer certain health benefits, its safety remains a subject of debate. Potential risks, particularly regarding lung and heart health, must be carefully weighed against the benefits. As research continues to evolve, so too will our understanding of cannabis’s impact on health and wellbeing.

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