Medical use of marijuana
Many people are unaware of the fact that marijuana has a long history as a medicinal aid which dates back to ancient times.
It is only as recently as the 1970’s that the medical use of marijuana was forbidden. Up until then marijuana has been widely used as a herbal remedy in China, Egypt, the medieval Islamic world and later, in the West.
Find out more in our short history of marijuana section.
But there has been a growth of interest in marijuana and its cannabinoids as a form of treatment for a range of medical conditions.
This molecule acts as a ‘cannabinoid neurotransmitter’ which means that it transmits signals to a target cell via the synapse. These ‘messenger’ molecules are located within the body and brain.
It performs a range of functions which include short term memory, pain regulation, appetite, movement and sleep. It binds itself to receptors which enable it to perform these functions.
For example, it controls the process of making and losing connections between nerve cells which are a direct result of learning and memory.
A connection is made when you learn a piece of information for the first time and is strengthened as this process is repeated.
This connection is lost if it is not used.
But an excess of anandamide can lead to forgetfulness and a poor short term memory. But a substance could be produced which prevents this from happening and reduces the risk of memory loss.
How does this relate to marijuana?
Anandamide has an almost identical structure to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) –the primary chemical in marijuana. It affects those areas of the brain which are controlled by anandamide such as pain sensation and regulation.
So, medical marijuana could be used to treat conditions, in which the patient experiences memory loss (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease) and chronic pain (e.g. cancer, multiple sclerosis).
Marijuana and examples of medical conditions
Marijuana can be used to treat a variety of physical and psychological conditions which include:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
These are just some of the many conditions which marijuana may be used for to relieve the symptoms and improve quality of life for the sufferer.
Arguments for medical marijuana
Supporters of medical marijuana argue that THC and other cannabinoids present in marijuana could be used to formulate new remedies to treat a range of conditions. The aim would be to produce marijuana derivatives such as tablets, inhalers, sprays, patches etc which would be less risky than smokable marijuana.
Smokable marijuana contains toxins, carcinogens and tars which negatively affect physical and mental health and wellbeing. This type of marijuana would not be used to make a derivative.
Arguments against medical marijuana
Opponents argue that it is ethically wrong to enable people to self-medicate with drugs which not only relieves their symptoms but allows them to become ‘stoned’ at the same time.
They also argue that marijuana causes damage to areas of the body such as the heart and lungs and can lead to an addiction. It interferers with fertility and may even lead to someone using ‘harder’ drugs such as heroin or cocaine.
Guide to Marijuana
- Guide to Marijuana
- What is marijuana?
- Short history of marijuana
- How is marijuana used?
- Types of marijuana
- Herbal cannabis (marijuana)
- Cannabis oil
- Genetic predisposition and marijuana
- Addiction and marijuana
- Effects of marijuana
- Short term effects of marijuana
- Long term effects of marijuana
- Physical effects of marijuana
- Marijuana and the brain
- Marijuana and the heart
- Marijuana and the lungs
- Marijuana and fertility
- Psychological effects of marijuana
- Marijuana and memory
- Marijuana and learning
- Marijuana and social behaviour
- Marijuana and psychosis
- Marijuana and insomnia
- Marijuana and anxiety
- Marijuana and depression
- Marijuana and cancer
- Marijuana and pregnancy
- Medical use of marijuana
- The law and marijuana
- Young people and marijuana
- Treatment for marijuana addiction
- Marijuana facts and fiction
- Marijuana FAQs