Marijuana has been the subject of heated debate over the past several decades
Yet, humanity has been using this herb in many ways for millennia. Marijuana also is known by names such as pot, cannabis, weed and dope. Different parts of the marijuana plant are used for different purposes, but most commonly the leaves are smoked.
The US consider cannabis to be a “Schedule 1 substance” and treat it with the same disdain as heroin. Is this too harsh? To discover the truth, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine examined hundreds of scientific research papers. They released their conclusions in January this year. Below we will list the findings to decide whether pot is dangerous, or a beneficial medicine.
Does Science Say Pot is Dangerous?
When weighing up the pros and cons of pot, one must also compare these with the pros and cons of other similar things. Classified by the US as a class 1 substance makes the assumption that pot is deadly like heroin.
Heroin kills thousands of addicts a year, but cannabis kills no one. Americans perceive pot as less dangerous than cocaine and methamphetamines. Most of the data points to pot being about as dangerous as alcohol. Does this mean the US should upgrade the criminality of alcohol consumption? Or downgrade the criminality of cannabis use?
Driving Becomes Dangerous on Pot
It is a criminal offense to drive under the influence of alcohol. Yet twice as many car accidents that result from impaired judgment are because of pot. THC in marijuana impairs judgment and motor skills. Users gain a warped sense of time and their reactions are defective.
Pot Damages Brain Cells
The psychoactive ingredient in pot, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) weakens important brain connections. When you use pot, your brain cannot adequately receive, process or send messages. You impair your memory, ability to pay attention and ability to learn.
Pot Exacerbates Mental Illness
A person predisposed to schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and other psychoses should avoid pot. If you have a family history that contains these disorders, it is a clue that pot could be detrimental to you.
Unfortunately, studies also reveal that people with schizophrenia are more likely to use pot. Pot will dramatically increase the distressing symptoms of these mental illnesses. This is because cannabis and schizophrenia share common genes. Other concerning studies reveal a link between pot and suicidal feelings.
Pot Connected to Negative Pregnancy Outcomes
A 2016 review of 24 studies showed that pregnant women who smoke pot put their unborn babies at dire risk.
Consuming cannabis during pregnancy can cause babies to be born with a low birth weight. Babies are also more likely to require admission into neonatal intensive care units. Pregnant women also are 36% more likely to develop anemia if they use pot.
Pregnant women who develop anemia are more likely to develop postpartum depression. Anemic mothers-to-be also risk giving birth to a child with developmental delays.
Pot Poisons Children
Accidental consumption of cannabis by young children can put them into a coma. Hospitals have seen an increase in childhood overdose of the drug since the legalization of medical marijuana.
Cannabis is more powerful when it is not smoked, and is instead baked in cookies or cakes. Children do not realize these treats contain the drug, and consume them. Cannabis overdose in children can lead to an inability to wake up and a loss of co-ordination. They can also develop respiratory problems.
Are there Medicinal Benefits Backed by Science?
In June 2015, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a systematic review. This investigated the medicinal use of cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are compounds that naturally occur in the marijuana leaves.
There are 66 different compounds in cannabis considered to be cannabinoids. Each compound has a different effect on different parts of the human brain. Scientists ran clinical trials on patients with HIV/AIDs, mental illnesses, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and more.
Not Enough Science Yet
The simple fact remains that there is not enough scientific research into pot. Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam has been studying the make up of pot since the 60s. But due to the illicit nature of the herb, it took breaking the law to gain samples for study.
The Israeli government granted him permission and he was able to make discoveries. Mechoulam discovered 480 components in the cannabis plant. Unfortunately, due to the criminality of cannabis, research is very limited.
Powerful Pain Killer
The scientific investigations by JAMA did however reveal how cannabis powerfully eases chronic pain. This was especially evident for sufferers of multiple sclerosis patients. These patients reported a dramatic reduction in muscle spasms.
In the states of the US that prescribe medicinal marijuana there are limits. Qualifying mean meeting criteria that proves having a condition that causes chronic pain and suffering. These conditions range from Cancer, Alzheimers to Crohn’s disease, for example.