Once a persecuted plant, the Schedule I Controlled Substance known as marijuana has proven to have many benefits for the American consumer. As more states vote yes for medical marijuana each passing year, the medicinal benefits of cannabis are coming to light more often.
MARIJUANA: NOT SO BAD AFTER ALL
Growing up in the era of the War on Drugs, most Americans today have been told to say “no,” to cannabis. However, in 1996 this mindset began a slow change when California became the first state to vote yes to medical marijuana. In 2012, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Washington followed suit. Now, 29 states plus the District of Columbia have all voted yes for medical marijuana legalization with 8 of those states and D.C. also allowing for recreational marijuana sales.Here are some of the many of benefits that marijuana can have on the life of the American consumer:
IMPROVE LUNG FUNCTION
When most think of marijuana, they think of smoking the plant. Therefore, it must sound far-fetched that cannabis has the ability to improve lung function. However, medical marijuana may not actually help repair the damage caused to the lungs by cigarette smoke…as long as you cease the use of tobacco products.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), smoking marijuana does not harm the function of lungs. In fact, the act may actually increase capacity within them. JAMA conducted these studies over a 20 years, testing the lung function of 5,115 young adult volunteers.
The results of the studies found that over time, tobacco users’ lung functions decreased, whereas cannabis smokers’ lung capacity grew. Speculation is that taking deep breaths while inhaling marijuana exercises the lungs, increasing the capacity. Whereas, the harsh chemicals in tobacco only serves to damage lung function.
CURB THE SPREAD OF CANCEROUS CELLS
Speaking of lung damage created by smoking tobaccos, medical marijuana contains a chemical that has proven to stop the spread of cancer cells inside petri dishes. One study found that the non-psychoactive component of medical marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), can turn off the cancer gene Id-1.
As cancer spreads, its cells make cops of the Id-1 gene. As explained in the abstract of the study, “Overexpression of Id-1 was found to induce expression of MT1-MMP protein, leading to invasion of breast cancer cells.”
Researches separated breast cancer cells with high levels of Id-1. They treated these cancerous growths with CBD. Results found that this treatment decreased the total number of Id-1 cells, which in turn meant that less breast cancer cells grew.
Approximately 3 million people suffer from glaucoma, an eye disease where the optic nerve becomes damaged by an increase of pressure placed upon the eyeball. Due to the damage, loss of vision is the common end result for those battling glaucoma.
In a study conducted by the National Eye Institute (NEI), researchers found that medical marijuana may treat glaucoma. The study concluded that cannabis alleviates pressure growth in the eye. As the NEI published, “Marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma.”
COMBAT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
Dementia, and later Alzheimer’s Disease, is the result of gray matter in the brain taking hold of memories, thoughts, and feelings. A study conducted by Molecular Pharmaceutics found that the psychoactive component of medical marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), hinders the growth of amyloid plaques that make room for the growth of gray matter in the brain. The way this works is that THC blocks the enzyme from forming that serves as a precursor for amyloid plaques.
Synthetically combining THC with CBD can have an even greater effect in preventing the spread of Alzheimer’s Disease. Together, these cannabinoids have an “Entourage Effect” on one another, strengthening each other’s healing abilities. Studies confirm this theory when it comes to Alzheimer’s. One in particular stated that together CBD and THC were able to preserve memory in a mouse model.
AID IN CONTROLLING EPILEPSY
Perhaps the case most famous in bringing medical marijuana into the media spotlight is cannabis’ ability to alleviate the harsh symptoms of epilepsy. 5 year old Charlotte Figi was diagnosed with Dravet’s Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. At her worst, Charlotte was suffering 300 seizures a day, rendering her unable to speak, eat, or talk.
When her parents ran out of every option, they turned to medical marijuana. Uprooting their family and moving to Colorado, one of the few places medical marijuana was then legal, the cannabinoids within cannabis worked together to control the seizure activity within Charlotte. To do this, the compounds in marijuana relax the over excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain that lead to epileptic episodes. This theory has been confirmed in a study with epileptic rats, who went seizure-free for 10 hours after being dosed with synthetic marijuana. Since turning to medical marijuana, Charlotte only has a few seizures a month, and has resumed a life of eating, walking, and talking.
EASE SYMPTOMS OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating disease where the central nervous system (CNS) mixes up signals meant to be delivered from the brain to the rest of the body. In turn, crossing these signals can lead to a bevy of painful side effects to the disease.
Studies have found that medical marijuana may ease symptoms associated with patients who suffer from MS. 30 patients who were diagnosed with MS were recorded to have painful contractions in their muscles. However, the patients reported having relief from their pain when they were treated by smoking marijuana.