In the US, it is becoming hard to believe that just years ago, you would get funny looks in public for starting a discourse about recreational or even medical cannabis. Fast-forward to the present, and their cannabis industry is growing steadily as it begins to draw massive support from the public as well as Congress in the US. It will only be a matter of time before medical and recreational cannabis are both made federally legal. And hopefully, that will lead to more countries around the world softening their approach.
Back in 2018, Canada made both medical and recreational cannabis legal within their borders. This was huge news for the industry as it saw Canada as the first G7 country to actually legalise marijuana. Now, people across the nation are enjoying the benefits of the plant.
When it comes to Medical Vs Recreational legalisation, recreational cannabis is already legal in 11 states according to NBC News. But, medical cannabis is even more accessible, both in the US and elsewhere.
For people to understand why cannabis is such a game-changer, it’s first important to understand the difference between medical and recreational cannabis.
Medical vs. Recreational: What’s The Difference?
It should be made clear that medical cannabis as a separate plant or product can be seen as a myth, as the compounds found in medical cannabis are often exactly the same – and sometimes inferior – to those found on the recreational market. They may have increased quality assurance checks and assurances, but legal red tape can leave patients scratching their heads as to why the quality of their prescribed cannabis isn’t always top notch.
So perhaps we should instead make the distinction by the the way the cannabis is being used by a consumer.
Are you using cannabis to treat a medical condition? Or is it simply because of the fun it brings?
However due to the many medical benefits of cannabis, it can provide benefits even to recreational consumers, and many medical patients who grew up while cannabis was still prohibited first discovered cannabis helped their condition when consuming recreationally.
In the UK you can obtain a prescription for medical cannabis from a private clinic, and there are an increasing number of medical cannabis patients around the world as more is understood about the multitude of medical benefits that cannabis has to offer.
Recreational cannabis is generally used for recreational purposes. After all, marijuana does provide the sensation of feeling “high” which many believe to be calming and relaxing. For this reason, people enjoy recreational weed simply because of the sense of euphoria it brings.
On the other hand, medical cannabis is prescribed to treat various physical and psychological conditions. In the UK, as well as states where only medical cannabis is available, this means you have to consult with a physician and get a prescription before you can legally procure it.
Recreational cannabis tends to be rich with tetrahydrocannabinol, most commonly called THC. This is the compound that gives the plant the psychoactive effects it is loved by the vast majority of consumers. Certain strains of cannabis have higher concentrations of THC than others. You may find some levels of CBD in recreational strains, but see very little of this pre-legalisation.
Because of the vast strain and cannabinoid balance potential, medical cannabis can utilise the power of the potency ratio between THC:CBD to suit certain conditions, depending on patient needs.
Both THC and CBD, as well as lots of other cannabinoids have been shown to have therapeutic actions and bind to our CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body.
How to get prescribed medical cannabis
In 2021, obtaining a cannabis prescription can be a relatively easy process, as long as you have a qualifying condition. There are some physicians that specialise in treating conditions treated with medical cannabis. If you live in a legal state in the US, something as simple as searching for a medical marijuana doctor near me on Google can direct you to these specialists. If you are in the UK, there are a number of cannabis clinics which will offer consultations and prescriptions for conditions treated by cannabis, as well as patient access projects that can help. Just be ready to pay a fee for your consultation and medicine, as the NHS does not prescribe CBPMs at time of writing.
Specialist consultants that specialise in medical cannabis understand the plant and its benefits and can help patients understand the best approach to therapeutic use.
Once you have a prescription, you can legally obtain your medical cannabis, although this will be imported at request in a lot of cases and cost similar to the price of illegal cannabis. There are efforts to bring this cost down in the UK.
Benefits Of Medical Cannabis
According to Healthline, one of the best benefits that medical cannabis is known for is its anti-inflammatory properties. This can make it an excellent medication for various skin and internal conditions caused by inflamed muscles or joints. For this reason, many people are using marijuana to treat ailments such as arthritis and other chronic pain not dealt with by conventional treatments.
It’s not surprising that a lot of professional athletes use medical cannabis. Some sports commissions in the US even allow the use of medical-grade cannabis, but it still really depends on the state where the athlete is from.
Medical marijuana can also be used for pain management. It’s preferred by a lot of people, as some pain medications are even addictive, which can make them a dangerous means to cope with chronic pain. People suffering from pain issues may therefore be looking for better and more natural means to help them live life better.
With regards to helping those with arthritis, on humans, the studies are still lacking, but a lot of people stand by their decision to treat their arthritis with medical cannabis. Studies looking into how it treats the condition in animals have shown good results. Pet owners are being prescribed CBD to treat arthritis symptoms for their dogs, and it has been proven to relieve the joint pain that elderly dogs go through once they begin to develop the condition.
There’s no cure for arthritis; all there is are treatments to lessen discomfort stemming from the symptoms. Most people take strong pain relievers to help ease the symptoms caused by the condition, but not everyone is willing to continuously treat themselves in this way, and cannabis may serve as the better alternative for them.
CBD truly is a game-changer when it comes to treating epilepsy. Just in 2018, the US FDA approved Epidiolex. It was the first cannabis-based drug to have been approved by the FDA, and had major implications for the industry, as for the first time ever the FDA showcased its support for the cannabis industry.
Epidiolex is the result of years worth of research with regards to how CBD reduces epileptic episodes. Without such studies to back it up, it would’ve been near impossible for the FDA to approve the drug for medical use. Now, Epidiolex is proven to be one of the most effective and safe treatments for epilepsy. The power of cannabis.
Medical cannabis isn’t just intended to treat physical ailments. It’s also used to treat mental conditions as well. Due to its calming and relaxing effects, CBD can be used to help people suffering from depression and anxiety.
CBD is said to induce calming sensations in consumers. This makes it a good potential treatment for those coping with mental health conditions too. THC can be sedative in some strains, and cannabis can help with insomnia.
Medical cannabis has many other benefits to the limbic system. As such, many doctors prescribe marijuana as a means to treat many other neurological and mental health conditions. Some other conditions it treats include multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and Tourette’s syndrome, just to name a few.
Medical cannabis doctors should understand what conditions are best treated with medical cannabis. If you have a neurological or physical disorder that can be treated with medical marijuana, they’ll be a good source of info on the science behind the benefits.
Are There Side Effects To Medical Cannabis?
Medical marijuana is a natural drug that doesn’t have any major side effects, and a great option for patients compared to other drugs as it is not considered as addictive. The risks are even smaller when compared with synthetic opioids.
For very new consumers, cannabis may cause undesired effects, including heart-racing, anxiety or sleepiness. You may notice an increased sensitivity to your senses. Effects can also include decreased motors skills.
So beware that you maybe shouldn’t take it if you are going to operate heavy machinery or are going to do tasks that can be risky if you have poor motor skills. This, of course, includes driving or even changing roof tiles.
Other mild side effects: cannabis can give you bloodshot eyes, dry mouth and an increased appetite. Notice that some of these side effects may actually be desirable to patients who may wish to increase their appetite or suffer from insomnia.
Nobody has ever died from cannabis directly as its LD:50 rating is 1 in 20,000 – 1 in 40,000. Whilst non-toxic, this doesn’t mean it is right for everyone. So if you take it and something doesn’t feel right, stop, relax, wait for it to wear off, and seek advice as it may be the wrong strain or any of the side effects listed above.
So what have we learned? Medical cannabis may be worth trying if you are suffering from conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain, depression, anxiety or epilepsy. But the potency THC:CBD will vary depending on your condition, so do your research first! Medical cannabis is, of course, an even more viable option if you are in an area where cannabis has already been legalised.
As with any other form of treatment, be it chemical or natural, when taking something as medicine, it’s better to consult with a specialist first. In this case, it’s a good idea to consult with a medical cannabis specialist to see how cannabis may help your condition. Though useful and versatile as medication, medical cannabis isn’t for everyone. But with the right information and guidance, it helps millions of patients around the world.