Are there pros and cons of smoking weed? Aren’t they all bad and dangerous to our mental and physical health?
The answer to the first question is yes, while the second is not entirely true. Your good-old MaryJane has benefits, and I will share them with you.
What is Weed?
Marijuana—known by many as weed, herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja, Mary Jane, and a vast array of slang names—is a greenish-gray mixture of dried flowers of Cannabis sativa.
Some people smoke weed in hand-rolled cigarettes called joints; some in blunts (weed rolled in cigar wraps) or in water pipes (sometimes known as bongs).
Marijuana is also used to brew tea and, mainly when it is sold or used for medicinal purposes, is regularly mixed into food such as cookies, candies, or brownies. Vaporizers are also progressively used to consume weed.
A stronger breed of marijuana includes sinsemilla (from specially nurtured female plants) and concentrated resins (with high amounts of marijuana’s active ingredients) such as waxy budder, hard amberlike shatter, and honeylike hash oil.
These resins are increasingly becoming popular among people who use them medically and recreationally.
Pros and Cons of Smoking Weed (Pros)
As more countries legalize medical and recreational marijuana, more freedom has been granted to researchers to study the cannabis plant. The need and interest for reliable information concerning cannabis and its potential benefits or dangers have peaked.
Today, more than ever, we know about the different types of weed and their potential benefits. Let’s peruse some of the most researched benefits of weed.
Note: The benefits under the pros and cons of smoking weed cover other forms of taking weed alongside smoking it.
However, you should know that smoking is detrimental to the health of the lungs.
1. Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is a symptom of many chronic conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and muscle spasms, Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma, epilepsy, and more.
Medical cannabis (weed) is known to be used to treat inflammation. The most popular report published in 2010 demonstrated the use of Cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) as a potent anti-inflammatory agent.
2. Relieves Pain
Severe pain is one of the significant reasons people miss work and other social events, from migraines and menstrual cramps to chronic fibromyalgia and neuropathy pain. Many people are plagued daily with overwhelming pain, thus reducing their quality of life.
Whether consumed orally or applied topically, cannabis not only relieves pain, but it also helps reduce dependence on harsh, addictive opioids and other pharmaceuticals that can wreak havoc on the organs of the body.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have “substantial evidence” for the use of cannabinoids and cannabis medicine to treat chronic pain.
3. Weed May Be a Safer Alternative to Opioids
A 2016 study in the journal Health Affairs shows that pain reliefs prescribed daily are 1,826 lesser in states that have approved the use of medical marijuana. And a 2017 review published in Trends in Neurosciences deduced that cannabinoids might help people recover from opioid addiction.
Opioids have been associated with increased mortality and morbidity when used on short- and long-term prescriptions. Granting access to cannabis has largely decreased the prescription of opioids and their side effects, other pharmaceuticals, tobacco, and alcohol.
4. Reduces Nausea
Many individuals experience nausea either frequently or seldomly from medication, digestive problems, chemotherapy, and more. Cannabis may help ease stomach pain and regulate proper digestive processes.
Cannabis also interacts with brain receptors to help relieve the feelings that often come with nausea. It can also stimulate the appetite of people struggling to eat food due to nausea.
Clinical and preclinical research shows that cannabinoids, including CBD, may treat nausea and vomiting effectively. At the same time, THCA (tetrahydrocannabinol) studies concluded that cannabinoid has a heightened potential for treating nausea and vomiting.
More research is needed in the above area to fully explore the different types of cannabinoids and their medical value.
Meanwhile, synthetic forms of cannabis like nabilone and dronabinol are already approved by the FDA to be used for treating nausea and vomiting after cancer chemotherapy. Dronabinol has also been approved for renewed appetite and weight gain in patients with AIDS.
5. Alleviates Anxiety and Depression
Researchers at Harvard University suggested that weed reduces anxiety, improves the patient’s mood, and acts as a sedative when administered in low doses.
Another study in 2018 on cannabis and its potential to reduce anxiety found that the anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects of marijuana are in part dependent on the terpenes, stains, and THC: CBD ratio.
Specifically, the study stated that THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), known for its psychoactive effects, seemed to reduce anxiety when administered in low doses but increase anxiety in higher doses.
CBD (Cannabidiol), in reverse, appears to reduce anxiety across the board due to the absence of the adverse side effects such as paranoia that come with intake. CBD has also been known to stabilize some of the anxiety caused by THC when both are paired.
The studies concluded that cannabis use might reduce depressive symptoms and depressive and anxiety in clinically anxious and depressed patients.
Weed smokers often report using the drug to relax emotional stress. They also confirmed feeling less nervous during a public speaking task.
6. People with Epilepsy May Benefit
A 2018 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that cannabidiol oil, a derivative of marijuana, reduced seizures by 39% in kids with Dravet syndrome, a rare type of epilepsy.
The cannabidiol oil used in the study, approved by the FDA in 2018 and sold as Epidiolex, couldn’t make people high because of the absence of THC. With that said, THC should not be used in pediatrics, even for young adults.
7. It May Have Anti-Cancer Effects, but Research Is Limited
Although limited, studies have reported that cannabis had slowed growth and/ or kill cancer cells in lab dishes. Some studies on animals reveal that cannabinoids may reduce or slow down the spread of some types of cancer.
Pros and Cons of Smoking Weed (Cons)
Note: The cons under pros and cons of smoking weed cover the adverse effect of other forms of taking weed alongside smoking it.
1. Impairs Memory and Cognitive Function
It’s a well-known fact that users of cannabis tend to have short-term memory loss. This could be true for young adults, who have until 25 years to develop their prefrontal cortex fully.
Although research on cannabis and its effects on cognitive functions remain limited, results from a study indicated that young adults using cannabis before 15 years had an increased risk of memory deficits.
This is why the use of cannabis has age limitations in states that authorize recreational cannabis. However, patients may need medical marijuana medication before the stated age to treat various diseases.
While THC-heavy cannabis may not be suitable for underage patients, non-intoxicating cannabinoids like CBG (cannabigerol) and CBD are still recommended in certain situations.
Adults that consume cannabis daily are susceptible to cognitive impairments. However, after abstinence from cannabis, results show that its negative impact on mental and memory function is reversed.
2. Lung Damage
This is not tied to weed alone. Smoking in any form is detrimental to the health of the lungs. Although preliminary, research shows that cannabis smoking affects the lungs as tobacco does. Symptoms may include lung hyperinflation and increased cough.
Smoking weed over extended periods has been linked with chronic bronchitis symptoms.
An excellent way to recede this cannabis use entirely is to attempt alternative consumption methods to smoking. Tinctures, edibles, and topical products are available at medical and recreational cannabis dispensaries.
The above alternate modes of taking cannabis can bypass the negative consequences related to smoking.
3. Inconsistent Legality
The illegal status of cannabis in many states may hinder the quality and accessibility of marijuana products. It may deter the use of cannabis as a treatment for fear of employment, criminals, and legal repercussions.
Even in cannabis-approved states, residents can be barred from getting federal employment due to the use of cannabis.
In states where the illegal marketing of cannabis is the only choice for consumers, there is a high risk of consuming weed laden with mold, heavy metals, pesticides, unknown residues, or even toxic additives like fentanyl.
It’s also hard to determine precisely what strain you are buying. The growing methods (organic or inorganic), CBD: THC ratio and terpene profile are vital components to control and avoid potential adverse effects.
4. Persistent Social Stigma
The social stigma surrounding cannabis use has somewhat lessened over the past years as drug policy reform progresses in many states. However, the recreational and medical use of cannabis remains illegal in many countries. Users and highly stigmatized in unapproved countries.
In the past, cannabis was stigmatized and criminalized. It was not because of problems associated with use; instead, propaganda encouraged the public to view the plant and its consumers as dangerous.
Even though cannabis has less stigmatization today, the stigma continues to hinder patients and recreational users. Unlike alcohol users, cannabis consumers often force themselves into secrecy about their substance use.
Marginalized groups often face a great deal of stigmatization for using cannabis. They end up suffering consequences such as job severance, incarceration, or having a child removed from their care by the state.
5. Limited Scientific Evidence
Since cannabis was illegal for so many years in the U.S. and continues to be at a federal level, scientists have found it challenging to conduct research in legitimate and controlled settings. As a result, cannabis research, in general, is deficient.
The research conducted thus far is promising for public health. Studies have explored the anti-inflammatory and analgesic components of the cannabis plant, which could provide relief symptoms to various conditions.
The legalization of cannabis will further encourage more research on cannabinoids and their medical value and provide certainty about risks and potential hazards.
6. It Can Pose Risks to the Baby During Pregnancy
According to a 2019 JAMA Pediatrics article, more pregnant women use marijuana. There is some evidence of an association between the use of marijuana during pregnancy and future hyperactivity developmental disorders in children, according to NIDA.
For example, research shows that pregnant people who use marijuana have a 2 to 3 times higher risk of stillbirth, says the NIDA.
Current parents should take caution while using marijuana. A 2019 study published in Prevention Science found that parents tend to reduce the intake of marijuana but don’t always quit.
The analyses found that children taking weed from age 10 to 21 and alcohol from 6 to 21 are closely affiliated with their parents’ lifetime marijuana use. Children of parents with chronic or adolescent-limited marijuana use are most likely to use alcohol or marijuana themselves.
7. It May Increase the Risk of Heart Attack
According to the NIDA, there is evidence that a person’s risk of a heart attack the first hour after smoking marijuana is nearly five times heightened. This risk could be because marijuana increases blood pressure and, in some cases, heart rate while reducing the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen.
It was reported that there had been an increase In the THC content of marijuana over the previous ten years and an increase in the availability of highly potent synthetic cannabinoids for recreational use.
It is concluded that these factors have led to a rise in severe cardiovascular incidents such as heart attack, heart disease affecting the muscles in the heart, irregular heartbeat, stroke, and cardiac arrest.
8. It’s Not Safe to Use Marijuana and Drive
According to the NIDA, marijuana can impair motor coordination, judgment, and reaction time.18 Studies have found a direct relationship between a concentration of THC in blood and impaired driving ability.
In addition, per NIDA, marijuana is most frequently found in the blood of drivers who have been involved in car crashes, including fatal ones.
Despite this research, the NIDA described the role played by marijuana in accidents as “unclear” because marijuana can be detected in body fluids after days or even weeks of consumption and because people often combine it with alcohol.
9. It Can Cause Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome
According to the National Library of Medicine, StatPearls, Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is a condition that causes cyclical abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting after taking cannabis.
A 2019 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that 18.4% of people who inhaled cannabis ended up in the emergency unit, and 8.4% of those who took edible cannabis and ended up in the hospital emergency room had symptoms of CHS.
It may be difficult, but stopping the use of marijuana can decrease the effects and CHS symptoms.
If you use marijuana medically or recreationally, it’s essential to understand its benefits and dangers.
Marijuana has been reported to be helpful for some health conditions but is contrary in other situations.
So, the best suggestion is to stay afloat with the laws surrounding cannabis and the pros and cons of smoking weed.
Furthermore, keep in mind that despite the belief that vaping weed is safer than smoking it, vaping is way harsher on the lungs.
Notwithstanding, there is no substitute for talking to a medical professional if you are interested in or already taking weed.