We’re still in the early stages of managing how medicinal marijuana is used to treat certain health conditions. However, since the door has been opened, millions of dollars in funding has been given to explore the benefits and drawbacks of medical marijuana for treating specific health ailments. A new report from the National Academic of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reveals some areas of potential and some points of concern when it comes to medicinal marijuana. We explore what the report found in today’s blog.
Medical Marijuana For Ailments
One of the major points the review found was that medicinal marijuana has beneficial effects for the treatment of chronic pain. The review committee found evidence that patients who were treated with marijuana for their chronic pain were more likely to experience a significant reduction in pain symptoms. A similar finding was made for individuals suffering from muscle spasms, and for patients suffering from chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Furthermore, researchers found no evidence that smoking marijuana was related in an increased risk of cancer development, but they stated that more research was needed to see if there was a correlation between marijuana use and an increased risk of heart attack, stroke or diabetes.
Drawbacks of Medicinal Marijuana
So while medicinal marijuana can be helpful for some patients with chronic pain, it is not without its drawbacks. According to the review, there was evidence that cannabis slightly increased a person’s risk of developing schizophrenia, social anxiety disorders, and to a lesser extent, depression. Heavy marijuana users are also more likely to report thoughts of suicide compared to non-users, and cannabis use increased a person’s risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. There were also increases in the number of marijuana overdoses among children who accidentally ingested the drug compared to states where recreational marijuana use was not legal.
Marijuana could also make certain ailments worse. Researchers stated that regular cannabis use was related to an increase in episodes of chronic bronchitis and other respiratory ailments, like chronic coughing and phlegm production. They did note that is unclear if marijuana use worsens symptoms from respiratory conditions like COPD or asthma.
Potential Abuse & Other Drug Problems
Finally, researchers suggested that marijuana could lead to abuse or other drug problems. Evidence suggests that with greater frequency of use, there is an increased likelihood of developing problem cannabis use, and there was moderate evidence to suggest that there was a link between marijuana use and the development of substance dependence of marijuana or other substances like alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs.
So while medical marijuana is certainly an interesting avenue for controlling pain, it is not without its drawbacks. Identifying these potential pitfalls is the first step. Now we need to learn how to mitigate these risks so chronic pain sufferers aren’t exposed to danger when pursuing medicinal marijuana for their pain.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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