It seems that cannabis has finally broken the “don’t-talk-about-it” barrier. Nowadays, it is everywhere. As proof of this, think of the last national elections. Many candidates made weed legalization or banned a cornerstone of their platforms.
On the other hand, those who didn’t were still pressured to stand for or against marijuana. Moreover, media outlets periodically held debates with or invited researchers to talk about it. There’s some genuine interest in weed.
However, if you ever wanted to find someone who has utter misconceptions about marijuana, you wouldn’t need to turn many stones. Misinformation abounds, especially in the online era.
Therefore, here we are to clear any doubts and answer the question, “what is cannabis?”. Keep on reading to find everything about it: its history, its uses, its potential health benefits, and whether it is legal or not.
What Is Cannabis?
Cannabis is a plant that people have been using for centuries for recreational properties and treating different illnesses. Every part of it is used, from the dried leaves to the seeds. There are several ways of consuming cannabis. Among them can find:
- Eating it raw
- Brewing their leaves for tea
- Digesting it through capsules
- Eating it in cannabis-infused edibles, such as gummies or brownies
- Through your skin in topicals, balms, or even in a bath with cannabis bath bombs and
- Drinking it in cannabis-infused drinks
Moreover, the plant is made of different components, called cannabinoids. Although there are different types of cannabinoids, two of them caught all the attention. We are talking, of course, of cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol, or CBD and THC.
THC is famous for being responsible for getting people high due to its psychoactive effects. CBD, in contrast, is non-psychoactive and is used in several medical treatments, which we’ll talk about below.
Lastly, we should talk about the plants in the cannabis family. Those who aren’t experts usually mention marijuana and hemp interchangeably.
However, they are not the same. While both plants have the same cannabinoids, the amounts vary. Hemp contains a large amount of CBD and less than 0.3% of THC. Due to this, it won’t make you high. In contrast, marijuana has less CBD and more than 0.3% THC, making it psychoactive.
How Does It Make You Feel?
The feelings one can experience vary from person to person. Nevertheless, there are some documented and widely known effects that cannabis has on people. When you incorporate cannabis, in any the possible ways, you might feel:
- A feeling of joy or euphoria, which people know as a “high”
- Some changes in how you perceive your surroundings, for example, of time, space and colors
- A sudden craving for a lot of food, also known as “having the munchies” and
- Having more confidence and an eagerness for talking
The Origins Of Cannabis: Where Does It Come From?
Nowadays, you can find locally-grown hemp and marijuana in the cannabis market, but it wasn’t always this way. Cannabis isn’t original to the Americas but Central Asia.
Therefore, how has this plant arrived on the continent? Let’s dive deep into the history of cannabis to know what it went through to end on your joint finally.
As mentioned above, the cannabis plant comes from the Eastern hemisphere. The first known use of it dates back to 500 B.C. How do we know this? Archeologists have found this plant’s origin in Siberia’s and China’s antique shamans’ graves.
This discovery suggests these cultures knew about the psychoactive effects and used them for religious services and medical treatments. Afterward, nomads began spreading the plant.
As a result, by 800 A.D., hashish, a smokable type of purified cannabis, was already popular throughout Asia and the Middle East. The use of the plant raised a lot of controversies, though, especially in Muslim cultures.
The reason for this is because the Quran prohibits consuming alcohol and intoxicating substances. As cannabis wasn’t mentioned, however, many argued it wasn’t forbidden.
Later, trade with bordering countries introduced cannabis to Africa and Europe. While in Europe, the uses were similar to those of Asia. Nevertheless, Africans consumed their seeds similarly to today, and cannabis was part of some medical treatments.
Moreover, they started making clothes and ropes with the fiber of the plant. With time, Asians also discovered the fiber was great for making paper.
As the plant’s popularity continued growing, it became essential in many societies. Moreover, cannabis doesn’t require special climate conditions. As a consequence, you can grow it anywhere without extreme weather conditions.
Because of this, farmers didn’t hesitate to bring it to the Americas during the colonial era. The rest, as they say, is history.
Cannabis Medical Uses As Medicine
Researchers are continuously finding new medical cannabis uses. Nowadays, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine supports cannabis for treating different diseases. Doctors employ cannabis in the treatment of certain illnesses such as:
- Chronic pains in adults
- Nausea and vomiting that chemotherapy usually provokes; and
- Multiple sclerosis symptoms
Moreover, in 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex. This drug was designed to help treat some types of epilepsy. This was the first step in the fight to regulate. Also, it was a big win for cannabis advocates. We had Charlotte Figi’s parents, whose daughter’s case and treatment with cannabis awoke a nation.
Finally, there is some evidence that hemp oil can be beneficial to people suffering from disorders. These include sleep apnea and eating disorders, such as anorexia and low appetite. What’s more, it can help with mental issues like anxiety disorders, Tourette’s syndrome, and substance abuse disorders.
The Health Effects Of Cannabis
As not everything that shines is gold, cannabis has also been linked to some symptoms. The side effects you can have from consuming hemp are two-fold: mental and physical. Some of the negative physical symptoms you can feel are:
- Breathing problems due to the smoke it produces, which has similar consequences to that of tobacco;
- Increased heart rate for up to 3 hours after smoking it which increases the risk of heart attacks;
- Child development issues when pregnant and after such as lower body weight and damaged brain; and
- Nausea and vomiting for long-term cannabis users who suffer from Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome.
On the other hand, as these weren’t enough, there’s a series of mental problems you can develop because of cannabis. These are:
- Temporary paranoia
- Temporary hallucinations
- Anxiety and
- Possibly deteriorating symptoms in schizophrenia patients
However, as frightening as it might appear, we need to remember that reported cases of severe side effects tend to be far from ordinary. Moreover, as with any other product, you should permanently suspend the use of cannabis and ask your doctor in case of any doubt.
Potential Health Benefits Of Cannabis
With soaring popularity and an ever-growing market, companies are allocating more money to finance studies. Consequently, cannabis health benefits continue ramping up. The potential benefits this plant has for us are marvelous. Therefore, let’s take a look at what can be achieved with this beautiful plant:
While cannabis is famous for giving users a vast appetite when they consume it, being overweight is usually not an issue. The reason is that cannabis can aid your body by helping it produce or regulate insulin while also dealing correctly with your caloric intake.
As cannabis is excellent at regulating insulin, it’s only logical it can help with and prevent diabetes. According to a study of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis, this logic stands. Their research shows that weed can lower blood sugars and pressure levels and improve its circulation.
Stress and Anxiety Management
Although cannabis can cause anxiety in people, the proper dosage has shown it helps users relax. Undoubtedly, we always advise you to consult with your doctor, especially if you’re very anxious.
Hindering Alzheimer’s Disease
Cognitive degeneration is the leading cause for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Nevertheless, as our hair whitens and wrinkles appear, avoiding it is no easy task. Hopefully, cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties that fight brain inflammation, slowing Alzheimer’s down.
Helps With PTSD
Although most think of wars and veterans when someone mentions PTSD, these are far from the cases. Anyone who went through a traumatic experience, such as assault, sexual abuse, or maybe a car crash, can develop it. Cannabis has been linked to easing the flight or fight response that can be triggered.
The Health Risk Of Cannabis
Apart from the possible side effects, there are some health risks in the long term. Marijuana users might face:
- Judgment Impairment
This can lead to higher chances of domestic and road accidents. As a consequence, driving isn’t advisable for up to 3 hours after consuming cannabis.
- Gum Disease
A study carried out by the American Dental Association showed that smoking weed and gum disease might be connected at some point.
- Loss Of Memory
Users, especially those who consume marijuana strains with high THC levels, can suffer from acute memory loss. Moreover, chances of having this are higher for under 25-year-olds, whose brains aren’t fully developed.
- Testicular Cancer
In 2018, a study conducted on Swedish men showed the use of cannabis throughout one’s lifetime increases the risk of testicular cancer.
Is Cannabis Addictive?
Despite being widely spread, there are no reported cases of overdoses. Moreover, researchers consider it impossible to consume so much marijuana that you’ll face life-threatening symptoms.
However, there have been reports of people getting hooked on cannabis and having issues with quitting it. Although it might seem shocking, a Jama Psychiatry carried out a 10-year-old study that showed some discouraging numbers.
Results revealed that between 9 and 30 out of every 100 users could develop marijuana abuse disorders. In other words, people had trouble leaving cannabis even though it impacted negatively on their lives.
What’s more, these statistics multiply up to seven times in users who began consuming before reaching legal voting age. People who found difficulty in quitting cannabis showed different abstinence symptoms. These include sleep deprivation, grouchiness, and anxiety.
In addition, there are also some possible eating disorders such as an appetite decrease and having solid cravings. For people struggling, group support has shown to be effective.
Is Cannabis Legal?
This is probably the public’s favorite question, especially here in the U.S. The answer, nevertheless, depends on where you live. Moreover, the fight against federal and local governments makes it unclear sometimes. However, here the distinction between hemp and marijuana is critical.
Hemp, which has less than 0.3% THC and therefore no psychoactive effects, is legal federally. However, some states have a prohibition that deems it illegal within their borders. As a result, CBD-infused cannabis products (not only the dried leaves) can get you in trouble there.
On the other hand, marijuana, or cannabis with psychoactive effects and content higher than 0.3% THC, is federally banned. Despite Congress’s prohibition, some states have passed legislation allowing marijuana for medical uses.
Even more, some have gone above and beyond and accept marijuana consumption for recreational uses. It would be best if you remembered that transporting marijuana between borders is still a federal crime.
All in all, our recommendation is always to check local legislation. In addition, keep in mind that, even though there’s a massive market for them, the FDA doesn’t regulate cannabis products. For this reason, manufacturers can often mislabel their products to sell more.
Hopefully, this situation will change with time as more and more states lift their bans or legalize marijuana altogether.
The Bottom Line
This ancient plant has several recreational and medical uses most can benefit from. Moreover, stepping back and looking at the bigger picture and how it came to where cannabis is today is also enjoyable. It puts importance into perspective. Therefore, as the battle for legalization rages on, it’s essential to know its effects on us.
Finally, we hope our article has shed some light on cannabis’s health benefits and risks. We highly encourage you to find out if cannabis products are legal in your state and try them out. There’s a ton of benefits waiting for you. So, tell us, what are you waiting for?