Drug, Medicine, or Something In Between? Here’s What You Should Really Know About Weed

Still, that news comes at a particularly interesting time for cannabis in the United States as 43 percent of the population now live in a state where recreational cannabis use is legal, and that number is growing quickly with more states jumping on board with legalization.

Turns out, your body is somewhat primed to benefit from these cannabinoids; the human body has an entire endocannabinoid system that’s recently been recognized as an important regulatory system in the function of brain, endocrine, and immune tissues, according to a review published by researchers in the department of endocrinology at the Medical University of Lodz in Poland.

Rousseau notes that cannabis has been clinically shown to combat chronic pain, boost mental health, and potentially help ward off cancer — but the list of potential benefits is even longer.

While adverse side effects from cannabis alone are really uncommon, the mind-altering effects of use can sometimes lead to unintended injuries or illnesses, including motor vehicle accidents or incidental poisoning .

Since the 1920s, marijuana has been predominantly used as a tool to keep people of color imprisoned — starting with Mexican immigration to the States in the early 1900s, says Webb.

That prohibition continued through 1930, when the first director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger, dropped this horrific, and often-referenced quote: “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers.

That racism didn’t stop as the century progressed, says Webb, nodding a particularly chilling quote from the Nixon presidency: “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or Black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and Blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” said John Ehrlichman, former Nixon domestic policy chief.

A 2019 report by NYC Health found that 24 percent of white New Yorkers reported using cannabis, whereas only 14 percent of Black residents and 12 percent of Latino residents reported the same.

On top of the fact that cannabis was used to criminalize POC, it also wasn’t really dissected in the medical community, notes Jessica Knox, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., board-certified preventive medicine physician, endocannabinologist , and cannabinoid medicine specialist.

“In most electronic medical records, the only way to formally code a patient’s cannabis use is as ‘cannabis use disorder,'” notes Dr.

“There are hundreds of peer-reviewed articles that show that cannabinoids have incredible medicinal properties,” says pediatric physician and cannabis expert Bonni Goldstein, M.D.

So, most doctors can’t — and won’t — back up cannabis or take it seriously until there’s more clinical evidence in the US.

“When I began working with patients who were using cannabis as their medicine, I listened to their reports and found that, despite having different conditions, many reported improved quality of life, less pain, less anxiety, better sleep and other benefits,” says Dr.

This is all to say — there’s hope for the future of cannabis in medicine.

For one, research shows that, in the short term, cannabis can significantly reduce self-reported levels of depression, anxiety, and stress.

The “munchies” might be a joke, but cannabis can also help stimulate appetite in people with eating disorders or who are experiencing a loss of appetite or drastic unintentional weight loss, says Dr.

Indeed, “marijuana can take the place of many NSAIDs, such as Advil or Aleve, especially since there is a limit to how much Advil you can take in a day or time frame without causing damage to your kidneys or stomach,” says Dr.

Oh, and you might recover from your workouts faster.

“I often find that many patients have very high expectations of the effect cannabis may have on their disease state,” says Dr.

That classic marijuana “high” — defined by grogginess, anxiousness, or paranoia — might also be a deterrent for you.

From strange-sounding strains to various potency amounts, walking into a dispensary for the first time can be super overwhelming.

“If someone is having unwanted side effects from their cannabis use, they’re not using the right dosing, delivery method, or strain, and should seek advice from someone with experience managing cannabis regimens,” says Dr.

Despite the fact that cannabis may not be legal in every state, there’s no rule saying that what’s legal is necessarily safe and, of course, that something illegal is unsafe.

“Cannabis continues to be a societal curiosity that is becoming an evolution of the misconceptions,” says Marie.

“And if you’re being dismissed, seek out a naturopath with the education to help,” says Marie.

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