While marijuana use is becoming more accepted and even legal in many parts of the United States, its safety and effects on heart health and memory remain under scrutiny. Despite its legalization for recreational and medical purposes in numerous states, marijuana contains toxins and carcinogens akin to those found in cigarette smoke, which contribute to heart disease and cancer. Its long history of cultivation, spanning around 6,000 years, doesn’t necessarily equate to safety.
Research by Oregon State University suggests that hemp compounds can prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells. This finding, revealed through a chemical screening technique developed at OSU, could signal a potential breakthrough in COVID-19 prevention. However, the relationship between cannabis use and the severity of COVID-19 symptoms is still a matter of debate, with some suggesting heavy cannabis use could be a contributing factor to more severe cases.
The economic and healthcare strains brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have the potential to increase opioid-related overdose rates, which average 130 deaths per day in the United States. Marijuana is often touted for its medical benefits, which could include treating opioid addiction. However, its classification as a Schedule 1 substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration indicates a recognized potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, casting doubt on its therapeutic role.
Harvard Health experts highlight the complex nature of cannabis, noting that while there may be benefits for certain conditions, risks remain, particularly for older adults. The use of cannabis in this demographic has risen, with a study indicating an increase from 2.4% to 4.2% among adults aged 65 and older from 2015 to 2018. With its capacity to affect short-term memory, executive functions, and even psychomotor abilities, the debate continues on whether the risks of marijuana outweigh its potential medical advantages.
Amidst these discussions, CBD, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, has garnered attention for its anti-inflammatory properties, leading researchers to investigate its efficacy against COVID-19. Yet, without conclusive evidence, the full potential of CBD remains speculative.
Given these varying perspectives, it is clear that the conversation around marijuana’s safety and health implications is far from settled.
For further reading on these topics, you can explore the detailed findings and discussions through the following links: Harvard Health, Oregon State Research, Study on Medical Marijuana for Opioid Addiction, and the perspectives from Harvard Gazette on the legalization and safety of cannabis.