Medical Use Of Cannabis
Besides its recreational use, the medical use of cannabis has grown in popularity in recent years, as it has been legalized across the world in different countries.
It is a nearly impossible task to clearly separate recreational use of cannabis from medical use. Since consumption of cannabis has been shown to have several different positive effects on the human body, many recreational users as such may be actually using the drug relieve stress, pains, or simply to clear their mind after a hard day’s work in the office. How much the use in this respect is “recreational” and how much it is “medical” in the context of the benefit to body or soul as opposed to the sole consumption for the sake of ‘high’ or enjoyment may still be a subject for long term research.
In fact, the spectrum of effects produced by cannabis is so wide that almost every use could be considered in some aspect as “medical”. Studies have shown improvement in such states of lack of appetite, insomnia, depression, migraines, and many others when associated with the consumption of cannabis, while cancer or AIDS patients are also considered among the possible candidates for medical cannabis.
As far as the safety of cannabis for consumption by patients is concerned, the US Department of Justice has produced a statement in 1988 describing the drug as non-toxic. In fact, while the U.S. counts yearly countless deaths associated with direct alcohol consumption, there are virtually no deaths associated with direct cannabis consumption.
A certain key term to medical cannabis or cannabis in general are the so-called cannabinoids. From the 300 chemical compounds which cannabis contains, at least 66 are considered cannabinoids, and they are central in the drug’s use as molifier of human body and soul problems. Cannabinoids, chemically, are a class of chemical compounds which produce physiological and behavioral effects by means of interactions with the so-called cannabinoid receptors, which were discovered in the 1980s. Currently, two known types of cannabinoid receptors in the human body are known to science, CB1 and CB2, although there is evidence for the existence of more.
CB1 receptors mainly reside in the brain, and may be more responsible for the psychological effects of cannabis consumption. They receive (or process) the euphoric and anticonvulsive effects of cannabis, which means they are helpful when processing cannabinoids influencing the nerve system, making them useful in the context of such diseases as asthma or digestive diseases.
CB2 receptors are to be found mostly in the immune system, particularily in the spleen. They are responsible for the threapeutic and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis, which may be helpful to patients of such diseases as cancer, or any types of inflammations.
Among the 66 estimated cannabinoids as part of the compounds of cannabis, around four are considered significant for several aspects of medical treatment using cannabis.Tetrahydrocannabinol, or in its most common name, under which it’s also known in recreational cannabis consumption circles, THC, is responsible for the psychoactive effects of the drug. In addition to the natural „high“ it gives, THC is considered effective against pain sensation and for sleep, which explains the common recreation evening to late night use (or after work use, which is much more common than morning or prework consumption).
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is very important in medical cannabis, where THC is somewhat less significant than in recreational cannabis use. Its effects include relieving convulsion, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea, while it may also inhibit cancer cell – making it a sort of all-around healer for body and mind. It may be also effective while treating for schizophrenia.
Β-Caryophyllene is also used in medical cannabis to treat tissue inflammation. And finally, there is Cannabigerol, which like CBD is mostly used for bodily treament, being largely not psychoactive.
Among the most prominent criticism of cannabis for medical use includes considering the common method of consumption, namely smoking, unhealthy and harming the body, an effect contrary to the proclaimed effect of any medicine. Attempts to relieve this issue have largely been proven successful, with alternative methods of consumption which are mostly or completely harmfree to the body, such as vaporizers, or ingesting the drug in an edible form (also known as ‘space cookies’ in recreational drug use).Β-Caryophyllene is also used in medical cannabis to treat tissue inflammation. And finally, there is Cannabigerol, which like CBD is mostly used for bodily treament, being largely not psychoactive.
While cannabis itself is illegal in most of the West, unless consumed or carried in small quantities which are usually tolerated by most Western governments, medical and scientific use of cannabis has been largely decriminalized or allowed in many Western countries, either along the process of decriminalization of cannabis for private recreational use, or as a separate process before or after the first. In Northern America, Canada regulates access to cannabis for medical purposes since 2001, defining two categories of patients which are elligible to receive cannabis as part of their treatment. The first group are the patients under end-of-life care, such as HIV/AIDS patients in the last, painful stages of the disease, or patients suffering spinal cord injuries. Category 2 patients are those which may not be in an end-of-life phase, but still exhibit symptoms similar to those of category 1 patients.
In the United States, cannabis is still illegal on the federal level, with marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug, the strictest classification alongside heroin, LSD or Ecstasy. Even so, on state level currently 16 states have legalized medical cannabis, with 7 of them (California, Colorado, New Mexico, Maine, Rhode Island, Montana and Michigan) utilize dispensaries to sell medical cannabis.
Other cases where medical marijuana may be allowed for medical use involve treating posttraumatic stress disorder, such as may be common in soldiers. In Israel, the Israeli military started in 2004 to treat soldiers with such disorders with THC.
Curiously, some countries like Sweden, which may have a very strict policy concerning drugs, where even possession of small private amounts may lead to a jail sentence, research on cannabinoids is allowed, performed and funded by the country, for example, at the Karolinska Institute for medicine in Stockholm.