Cannabis, widely used for both recreational and medicinal purposes, presents a paradox in the medical community. Despite its widespread use, there remains uncertainty about its safety and long-term health effects. While 33 states in the U.S. allow cannabis for medical use and 11 for recreational use, the debate about its safety continues.
Harvard Health advises those who use cannabis to do so safely. It’s recommended not to smoke cannabis, as it can inflame the lungs. Instead, alternatives like under-the-tongue tinctures, edibles, topical products, or dry herb vaporizers are suggested. If smoking is chosen, it’s advised not to hold the smoke in the lungs for more than a second or two, as holding it longer doesn’t increase the effect but can irritate the lungs. Additionally, driving should be avoided for at least four hours after consumptionHarvard Health.
Medical cannabis is now available in various forms, including gummy bears, dried flowers, pills, lotions, drops, and a variety of edibles. However, there’s a need for reliable information from trusted medical professionals to understand its impacts fully. Misinformation and ‘junk science’ prevalent on the internet make it crucial to seek information from credible sources before considering cannabis for medical purposesHarvard Health.
Recent research suggests a link between long-term, heavy cannabis use and cognitive effects in midlife, including potential risks for dementia. However, these findings are not conclusive, and further studies are required to establish a definitive connection and understand the long-term impact of cannabis use on cognitive healthHarvard Health.
Cannabis can also affect sleep patterns. According to Conroy, a cessation of cannabis use can lead to a rebound of REM sleep and potentially more vivid dreams. This aspect was highlighted by a London-based journalist who found cannabis helpful for managing anxiety and ADHD but also noted changes in sleep patterns upon quittingUniversity of Michigan.
There are concerns about the cardiovascular effects of marijuana. The substance can cause the heart to beat faster and increase blood pressure, which may be dangerous for people with heart disease. Research indicates that the risk of a heart attack is significantly higher in the hour after smoking marijuana. Moreover, the long-term health implications of THC metabolites, which can stay in the body for days or longer in heavy users, are yet unknownHarvard Health.
In summary, while cannabis is increasingly accepted and used for both recreational and medicinal purposes, its safety and long-term health effects remain subjects of ongoing research and debate. Users and those considering its use should approach it cautiously, keeping in mind the potential risks and the need for more definitive scientific understanding.