Cannabidiol, also called marijuana, is an herbal drug from the cannabis plant. Native to Central Asia and the Eastern India, the cannabis plant was used historically as a powerful psychotropic drug for mind-altering and spiritual purposes and in many traditional medicines for countless years. It is now being used frequently as a recreational substance, much like beer or wine. Some advocates argue that it should be legalized because it has no side effects, while others decry its use on all occasions as potentially harmful.
Even though marijuana has not been formally scheduled by the FDA as an illegal drug, its definition is similar to those of other drugs with similar actions and effects. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, marijuana “has a high concentration of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that produces the psychologically acknowledged marijuana “high.” In fact, the government’s classification of Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act indicates that marijuana has “no present ability to function,” is not habit forming, and may be carcinogenic. However, marijuana has little negative effect on most people when used properly, so it is well within the bounds of reason to legalize it for recreational uses. Still, some medical professionals, including doctors specializing in neurology, remain dubious of the efficacy of marijuana and its medicinal uses.
The difference between medical marijuana recreationally consumed is that the former does not have a sedative or mood-altering element. Medical marijuana has been shown to alleviate the nausea associated with chemotherapy patients and to help ease the discomfort of some diseases. It has also been found to relieve the pain of serious, debilitating diseases such as cancer, AIDS, and glaucoma. There is even some evidence that it might help treat the symptoms of serious diseases including Alzheimer’s.
However, there is more research indicating that marijuana has harmful side effects. Its use by pregnant women is a major source of concern. Some studies have shown that marijuana use during pregnancy can lead to reduced birth weight in some babies. Some believe this effect is caused by the woman’s weight gain during pregnancy and her consuming marijuana during this time. While marijuana is not considered a safe drug by most medical professionals, it has significantly less impact on a developing child than many other commonly prescribed medications.
But even with the risks, marijuana remains illegal across the United States under both state and federal law. Those who are arrested for marijuana possession face significant penalties, both civil and criminal. Many states have also passed laws pertaining to marijuana, such as the plant being listed as an illness or substance dangerous enough to be illegal. Under these circumstances, those accused of marijuana possession may need to appear in court and prove their innocence. While this practice varies greatly from state to state, anyone caught violating state law will almost always receive a heavy fine.
So, what are the medical benefits of marijuana? The truth is that there are dozens upon dozens of them. However, only a few studies have been completed on the subject. Until these studies are completed and published, marijuana is best avoided by those who wish to avoid the harmful side effects.