The Hype Says Cannabis is Healthy – Is it True?
Cannabis used to be one of the most taboo topics imaginable. At one time, only 3% of the country supported legalizing it. Today, the majority of Americans are in favor of legalizing weed. As it becomes more popular, more people talk about its supposed health benefits. But is it really good for us? Cannabis has long been on the list of Schedule I drugs that are classified as having no medical benefit. The push for legalization is changing perceptions, but is that for the better? Here’s a candid look at some actual facts about so you can determine the answer to the question on whether or not is cannabis unhealthy? What is in Cannabis? Cannabis plants have over 100 active compounds called cannabinoids. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol–THC–is responsible for the mind-altering effects. The plants’ effects can be felt immediately after inhalation. A dose of 3mg of THC is enough to produce an effect. What Does THC Do? THC latches onto cannabinoid receptors in the brain in the hippocampus, cerebellum, and the basal ganglia. These areas of the brain are responsible for memory, coordination, and movement, respectively. That’s why someone who reports being high experiences trouble with memory, their coordination, and movement. How Can THC be Harmful? High doses of THC can have a profound effect on the endocannabinoid system in the body. Too much activity leads to down-regulation of the system. The endocannabinoid system is disrupted by long-term use and cannot function as it should. Can People Overdose? Scientists estimate that you would need 15g-70g to have a lethal dose of THC. It is nearly impossible to overdose on cannabis through smoking, though edibles and concentrates could definitely present problems. Can You Become Dependent? One in ten regular users become dependent on the drug. Dependency is defined as needing to continue the use of the drug to maintain adequate feelings. Only alcohol and tobacco outrank cannabis in terms of substances that cause dependency. What are the Short-Term Effects? Aside from the high and feelings of euphoria, there are also side effects that come with smoking cannabis. These side effects range from paranoia, anxiety, and problems with memory and attention span. People who drive while impaired by cannabis are twice as likely to crash as unimpaired drivers. Are There Any Long-Term Effects? Truthfully not a lot of scientific studies have been done surrounding the long-term effects of cannabis. A study in Sweden from 30 years ago found that young people who use before age 18 were twice as likely to report schizophrenia by middle age. Studies since then support these findings, but cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that cannabis is the cause of mental health problems. Do Higher-Potency Strains Put You at Higher Risk? This question is impossible to answer for now, but many researchers are leaning towards a yes answer. A study conducted last year in London found high-potency strains were more linked to psychosis. Other studies found that high-potency strains may impair communication between the two halves of the brain. The same changes were not present in non-smokers or low-strength cannabis smokers. Cannabis may lead to an increase in psychotic disorders, but more studies are needed. There is a 2% chance that users will develop schizophrenia in their lives, which is higher than the non-smoking population. For now, don’t believe every report you see touting the health benefits.