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In 1996, California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis. After some time, majority of states began to legalize medical cannabis use in 2016. However, many states didn’t allow recreational marijuana until 2019-2020. The trend for legal recreational marijuana use has become increasing popular.
Marijuana is harvested from the plant Cannabis sativa and is made of 400 lipophilic chemical compounds including two derivatives of the Cannabis plant—cannabinoid delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These chemical compounds are responsible for most of the therapeutic effects. THC binds to cannabinoid receptors CB1, and CB2. CB1 is found mostly within the central nervous system (CNS). CB2 is mostly found outside of the CNS and is associated with the immune system.
The effects of THC include euphoria, relaxation, appetite stimulation, improvement of nausea and vomiting, analgesia, decreased muscle spasticity and reduced eye pressure (Box 2: The effects of Cannabis). Cannabis can also be used in individuals suffering from epilepsy who do not find relief in anticonvulsants. According to the article, “In addition to her existing antiepileptic drug regimen, she was started on adjunctive therapy with a sublingual Cannabis extract containing a high concentration of CBD. Her seizures decreased from 50 per day to 2 to 3 nocturnal convulsions per month. The treatment enabled her to stop using a feeding tube, resume walking and talking, and sleep soundly” (Gupta, 2018).
Although medical marijuana (MM) can be beneficial for treating some medical conditions (neuropathic pain and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting), Cannabis can impair cognition, attention and may precipitate psychosis. The risk of deleterious effects are greater in adolescents.
The article, “Herbal Medicine in the United States” explains that approximately 20% of the population utilizes herbs as a supplement because it is perceived as “natural” and therefore safe. Herbs are regulated by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). This act researches the effects and adverse effects herbs have on the human body. Most people may avoid herbs because they interact poorly with medications they are prescribed.