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Harvard Explains The Health Effects Of Medical And Recreational Use Of Marijuana

Harvard Explains The Health Effects Of Medical And Recreational Use Of Marijuana

Versión en Español en El Planteo.

Gallup has estimated that at least 33 million adults in the United States are marijuana users right now — although government studies say the figure stands closer to 20 million. No matter what the actual number is, the fact is that a lot of people either smoke, vape or ingest weed in the land of the free.

In an article published on Harvard Health’s site, Wynne Armand, MD, shared a look into the effects the recreational and medical use of marijuana has on our health.

Short Term

While being “high” can be relaxing, it also causes an alteration of the senses and a distortion of the conception of time. In some cases, marijuana can also lead to impaired thinking, judgment, memory and coordination, as well as paranoia or anxiety — these effects depend, of course, on who’s using the substance and the strain of weed in question.

Beyond the mind, physical effects usually include bloodshot eyes and cotton-mouth, a faster heart rate and even slurred speech. How long these symptoms last depends on the strength of the marijuana consumed and the input method.

Longer Term

Over the long term, effects are more serious and include irritation of the lungs and breathing problems. However, it should be noted that there are no conclusive studies linking marijuana consumption to lung cancer. Moreover, the effects known so far correspond to heavy users — although, again, this concept is hard to define.

Related Link: Why Microsoft's Foray Into The Marijuana Business Is Important

What some studies have suggested, however, is that the consumption of pot during pregnancy can negatively affect a baby’s brain development. Furthermore, scientists have associated the use of the drug during teenage years and young adulthood with a deterioration in “learning and cognitive thinking that persists into adulthood,” even after consumption is stopped.

Finally, it should be pointed out that marijuana users rarely develop dependence and addiction, although teenage users are more prone to them.

And Now, The Medical Benefits

Although there is still some controversy around the medical use (and benefits) of MJ (this means marijuana, not Michael Jackson), an increasing number of states are opting for the legalization of medical cannabis. Beyond straight-up consumption, several FDA-approved medications contain synthetic THC and are commonly used to treat AIDS patients with lack of appetite and chemotherapy patients with nausea, among other conditions.

Related Link: What Presidential Candidates Think About Marijuana Policy And Legalization

As it has been widely discussed, while medical marijuana consumption is legal at the state level, federal authorities and laws still prohibit its use. “Because we don’t have data from large, long-term, well-designed studies, the FDA continues to have concerns about potential risks versus benefits,” Armand expounded. Fortunately, she added, there are ongoing studies continue on the benefits of marijuana and its components, THC and cannabidiol, with early results suggesting that cannabidiol and its derivatives have the potential to treat psychiatric conditions like anxiety, schizophrenia and psychosis, and even ailments like drug-resistant epilepsy.

As investigation advances, one thing is clear: Marijuana use needs to be responsible, and limited to non-pregnant, non-driving adults. Finally, Armand recommended, “Avoid products that are packaged as candy or other edibles if there are children in your household who are more susceptible to a toxic overdose.”

Some stocks related to the marijuana business/biopharm sector include:

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Disclosure: Javier Hasse holds no interest in any of the securities or entities mentioned above. Stocks mentions are not recommendations.


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