Maggie Gacy
4 minute read
25 Feb 2021
8:30 am

What are the risks of medical marijuana?

Maggie Gacy

Marijuana is used globally for healing and other medical purposes, but just as how it has a number of benefits, it also has a couple of risks.

Thailand's National Assembly legalised the use of marijuana and kratom, a traditional herb, for research and medical use. AFP/File/Don MacKinnon

These days growing marijuana is getting re-evaluated on legal and cultural levels after the plant has been considered an illegal substance for many decades. There was recent research that indicated that most Americans are in support of legalising marijuana for recreational and medical use. Several states have legalised the use of marijuana for either recreational or medical purposes or even for both. However, many lawmakers and researchers are still looking for more medical evidence supporting the claims of specific benefits of using marijuana. There is also the concern raised about the potential risks in the consumption that may outweigh the benefits of using cannabis.

Benefits of marijuana

You can find two versions of marijuana these days. Doctors prescribe these synthetic versions of marijuana for the treatment of chemotherapy side effects and severe epilepsy. Here is a list of marijuana benefits that are commonly discussed anecdotally and during scientific research.

1. Pain management

The cannabinoids present in marijuana can decrease pain by altering the pain perception pathways working inside the brain. It might be useful for treating the conditions that lead to chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraine, and endometriosis. The substance can also decrease the side effects of cancer treatment such as loss of appetite. In many cases, medical marijuana is used for replacing the long-term use of anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drugs such as ibuprofen that can also have side effects.

2. Decreased inflammation

The CBD present in marijuana is perceived to help in the reduction of inflammation. In theory, it can help in the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Reduction in inflammation within the body can also lead to better overall health.

3. Mental and neurological disorders

Because of the effect it has on the limbic system, many times doctors prescribe marijuana for the treatment of these mental and neurological health conditions. The health conditions include epilepsy, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Tourette syndrome, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

4. Sleep management

Marijuana also provides certain relaxing effects that can improve sleeping disorders such as insomnia. You can also get a better sleep when there is a reduction in pain due to the use of marijuana.

Benefits vs. Risks

Marijuana use is similar to synthetic drugs that help certain conditions and not others. It is not a kind of treatment that will be useful for everything. Many experts conceive that the benefits associated with marijuana come from the compounds that are present in the substance known as cannabinoids including cannabidiol or CBD. CBD is one of the highly studied cannabinoids present in marijuana. CBD can be found in another plant from the group called hemp.

One of the significant differences between marijuana and CBD is that the CBD just contains a trace of THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is best known for the hallucinogenic effects it has on your brain. Most of the cannabis plants can contain in the region of 40% CBD. The CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that affect the central nervous system positively. It can translate into several benefits for your body.

However, there are certain concerns about the effects of THC in conventional marijuana. They are because THC can have a depressing or stimulating effect on many people. It can lead to other side effects. Therefore, while considering marijuana for medical conditions, the doctor is likely to assess whether the anti-inflammatory benefits offered by the substance outweigh the psychological risks involved in using the substance.


There is no doubt that growing marijuana is one of the more contentious topics these days both from the health and legal perspective. As there is more research conducted on the benefits of using marijuana for your health, the debate about its medical and recreational benefits continues. During this time if you are interested in using marijuana for health reasons you must consult your doctor first. The doctors can help guide you through the benefits and potential risks involved in the use of the substance. They are also aware of the legalities involved in getting a medical marijuana card depending on the place of your residence. Discard the idea of trying a substance or a drug on your own for the treatment of any medical condition. This statement also applies to a plant-based resource such as marijuana.

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