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The word “medical marijuana” refers to the dried flowers of the unprocessed marijuana plant. This contains hundreds of chemicals. Or it may refer to particular marijuana-derived chemicals that have medicinal properties.

One of the two chemicals produces high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The other, cannabidiol (CBD), does not produce any high or cognitive impairment.

Both chemicals seem to reduce pain and assist with anxiety and insomnia. So, they are often believed to help reduce the symptoms of several other disorders, says Dr. Grinspoon. Other conditions include: 

  • Arthritis
  • Migraines 
  • Dystonia (muscle dysfunction)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease 
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder 

With strong supporters from each side of the issue, the reasons for and against the legalization of marijuana are hot subjects. 

  • Marijuana, when taken excessively, can increase the risk of short-term memory loss. It can also impair cognitive ability or thinking skills.
  • The pro says it’s non-addictive. There’s no denying that it can destroy lung tissue if you smoke regularly. Not with the same severity as tobacco does, but will.
  • Smoked marijuana has chemical compounds that may cause cancer or carcinogenic effects.
  • Marijuana carries the risk of abuse and addiction. This is why the “illicit” status of cannabis does not allow the government to accept it.
  • Marijuana causes cognitive inability, lack of control, and co-ordination while “high.” So this state has also caused people to engage in irresponsible driving actions. So this leads to worse car crashes and accidents at work.
  • Marijuana induces apathy, drowsiness, and sadness. It can affect the personality of an individual through prolonged use.
  • Marijuana is known to induce acute psychosis to the tune of hallucinations, such as symptoms when taken regularly. These may also occur as signs of withdrawal. Not to mention extreme fear, anxiety, and panic as some of the most common side effects.
  • Long-term use of medical marijuana as a means of treatment is known to affect and suppress the body’s immune system.
  • Long-term use of medical marijuana, in any form, often raises the risk of heart attacks, chronic coughing, and respiratory infections.
  • The reduction in sexual capacity is often attributed to the long-term use of marijuana. The drug has a negative effect on male sex hormones in the long term.

The list of pros and cons continues to increase with every passing study and research. We still have a long way to go to offer medicinal marijuana unconditionally. Also, we have a long way to get the much sought-after “legal” status.

Scientific Evidence Remains Limited

In the past, clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy of marijuana in treating certain diseases were restrictive and limited. Nowadays, medical marijuana is becoming more prevalent around the world. So, researchers are conducting more studies.

However, expert analyses of recent research continue to argue that we need more experiments. Many of the challenges include: 

  • Controlling the efficacy 
  • Dosing of marijuana with what is legally available to researchers

One review of the research noted that the long-term effects of marijuana are still unknown. There will be scientific evidence about the medicinal effects of marijuana with further research into dosage and adverse effects.

The Bottom Line

Medical marijuana remains controversial. But it is gaining popularity as a legitimate recommendation for a number of symptoms. Also, several states have approved the use of marijuana for medical uses (and a few for recreation). Furthermore, there are more moves by policymakers and the U.S. government to accept it and sell it nationwide.

However, this would likely take a much larger body of legal, scientific research to prove or disprove the effectiveness of medical marijuana and potentially loosen restrictions on its use.