The use of medical marijuana has long been a topic of debate. Due to government policies and regulatory barriers, there has been limited research on the topic. While its use is still illegal in most areas of the world, many countries have started to legalize it in recent times. However, there is still concern over how beneficial medical marijuana is and if it can do more harm than good.
One of the most common reasons to justify medical marijuana use is to treat chronic pain. Many people turn to opioids, a comparatively more dangerous drug group, for pain relief. Marijuana seems to be a suitable alternative in such situations to prevent a worse outcome.
Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that marijuana helps with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. This, along with its pain relief properties, makes it a suitable option for cancer patients with severe pain and nausea caused by their illness.
Moreover, research has found that marijuana helps improve patient-reported multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms. However, there is limited evidence that marijuana improves doctor-reported symptoms.
Furthermore, data has proven that marijuana helps manage sleep disturbances, in the short-term, related to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis.
Also, limited evidence suggests that marijuana is beneficial in the treatment of appetite and weight loss issues linked with HIV/AIDS, and improves Tourette Syndrome symptoms along with anxiety symptoms and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Marijuana also seems to improve outcomes after traumatic brain injury.
Marijuana use has been associated with an increased risk of a variety of health problems such as testicular cancer, heart attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pregnancy complications like lower birth weights of babies. Long-term marijuana smokers can worsen the symptoms of respiratory conditions and lead to more frequent episodes of chronic bronchitis.
There is also evidence to suggest that using marijuana may increase the risk or worsen symptoms of mental health issues, like depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, suicidal ideation and attempts, and anxiety disorders. Users are also more likely to develop schizophrenia and other psychoses.
Not only that but marijuana has also been linked to some psychosocial problems. It may impair learning, memory, and attention. Some evidence also notes worse outcomes in education, employment, income, and social functioning.
Some researchers have also argued that marijuana acts as a "gateway" to harder drugs like opioids and can result in addiction. However, this gateway effect may be in part due to its accessibility and low cost, making it the first drug that people try out before they move on to others.
There are several pros and cons when it comes to marijuana usage. However, the cons seem to hold more significance as it has a major negative impact on pregnant women, people with respiratory problems and mental health disorders. While there is a need for further extensive research into its use and outcomes, current data suggests that marijuana is not a very safe drug.