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In spite of continued resistance from the federal government, medical marijuana laws are continuing to change in states across the country. Medical cannabis is frequently associated with conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma and epilepsy, but there are a host of other benefits that this product offers for a number of different conditions. Other than the ones mentioned above, what are some of the lesser-known benefits of medical marijuana?

Medical Marijuana

Reverse the Effects of Cigarette Smoking

Putting more smoke in your lungs might seem detrimental to the health of your lungs, but early studies have suggested that not only does smoking marijuana not damage your lungs in the same way that cigarette smoke does, it can actually help improve lung function and reverse the damaging effects of tobacco smoking.

Surprisingly enough, marijuana smokers showed increased lung capacity when compared to both smokers and non-smokers.

Surprisingly enough, marijuana smokers showed increased lung capacity when compared to both smokers and non-smokers. While it may not be enough to reverse the damage caused by a lifetime of tobacco smoke, it could potentially serve as a future treatment for smokers and for individuals with reduced lung capacity.

Treatments for Opioid Addiction

The opioid crisis is reaching dangerous proportions across the country — according to the CDC, upwards of 91 Americans die every single day from an opioid overdose. While these statistics do include illegal opioids like heroin, a growing number of these deaths are being attributed to prescription opioid painkillers instead. Deaths from these prescription drugs have multiplied by more than 4 times since the turn of the century.

When it comes down to it, though, withdrawal from these opioids is as dangerous as the drugs themselves — quitting the drugs cold turkey can be deadly if not done correctly. Medical marijuana may be the solution to both reduce the number of opioid-related deaths, and to improve the outcome of opioid rehabilitation.

The studies are not yet complete, but early information is promising and shows that medical marijuana can help to reduce the number of opioid addictions, making it an invaluable tool to combat the growing epidemic that is sweeping our nation.

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Decreases Anxiety in Low Doses

General anxiety disorder is one of the hardest mental illnesses to diagnose and treat, and many of the treatments don’t always work or only work for a short amount of time before the side effects become too much to handle or the body develops a resistance to the medications. Mental health isn’t an enormous priority when it comes to medical marijuana research — and more is known about the risk than the benefits at this point — but some studies have shown potential when it comes to the treatment of anxiety.

For some people, low THC strains of marijuana have a calming effect that can be used to treat anxiety without the side effects that often accompany anxiety treatment medications. Generally lower in THC and higher in CBD, Indica strains are much more likely to ease your anxiety. One of the perfect anxiety killers is the Zamnesia northern lights strain. It doesn’t work for everyone — some people actually experience increased anxiety after smoking or ingesting marijuana. Low doses, though, could potentially be life-changing for individuals with general anxiety disorder.

Slows the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are devastating not because they take lives but because they destroy minds and memories — and there is no cure yet. Some exciting studies have found that medical marijuana could potentially help remove the buildup of leads that has been shown to lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s in some patients.

The research looks promising, but even in a state like California where marijuana is legal for both recreational and medical use, studies like this are stunted due to interference from the federal government, which still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug — a Schedule 1 drug is considered dangerous and has no medical use or benefit.

In spite — or perhaps because — of the resistance presented by the federal government, the general opinion on medical marijuana is slowly changing. Medical marijuana is currently legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, and more states are moving toward joining those ranks.

There are so many potential benefits associated with medical marijuana that we haven’t even discovered yet — many of the reports are anecdotal simply because there is no one doing the research. It will take more than legalizing the drug in select states to turn it into an accessible tool for stopping the opioid epidemic, helping Alzheimer’s patients or treating mental illnesses like anxiety. We’re moving in the right direction, but we’re definitely not there yet.


Kate Harveston
Only Slightly Biased