The female cannabis plant has been widely known for its therapeutic effects for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The list of illnesses that could potentially be treated with medical marijuana is impressively long and includes diseases and symptoms such as stress, sleep disorders, chronic pain, epilepsy, inflammation and inflammatory pain, cancer as well as several mental health disorders.
While marijuana is often loved for its medical use-cases, there’s also another side of the flowers that many people gratefully enjoy: recreational use. According to several studies, cannabis is one of the most popular drugs in the world, with consumers in probably every single country in the world. While the use of marijuana undoubtedly carries some risks, especially for young adults below the age of 21, it is frequently seen as a less risky substance than alcohol and tobacco.
International governments are currently distinguishing between medical and recreational cannabis in terms of their legislation. This article will shed light on the main differences between both components and what they mean for the consumers.
Difference between medical and recreational marijuana
During the past few years, legal medical marijuana became quite popular around the world. Dozens of European countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Italy and many other nations, stopped the prohibition of medicinal cannabis over the course of the past 5 years. The governments admitted the potential of marijuana as a treatment and allowed it for a variety of medical patients.
Therapeutical cannabis comes in many different ways. The active substances of marijuana are called cannabinoids, and more than a hundred different cannabinoids can be found in the plant. The most popular ones are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) which is psychoactive, and its non-psychoactive brother CBD (Cannabidiol).
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While recreational users mostly enjoy marijuana for its mind-altering effects that are triggered by THC, its relative CBD is way more popular in the medical sector. Various studies during the past decade found out that CBD is not only a substance that can be used to treat dozens of diseases but it is also highly digestible and comes with very few side effects. THC, on the other hand, is suspected to occasionally trigger mental illnesses, such as psychosis or depression, especially with young consumers.
The cannabis flowers, more precisely its buds, are still a popular method of using medical cannabis. There are already cannabis strains that were bred to contain a high CBD and a low THC content. CBD strains, such as AC/DC and Ringo’s Gift, usually contain a CBD content from 10 to 25 percent, while the THC amounts lie between 0.1 and 5 percent. Apart from traditional flowers, there are several CBD extracts on the market that may be purchased in the form of oil, tinctures, liquids, edibles, dabs, capsules and creams. In contrast to CBD buds, the extracts are not containing other cannabinoids except for CBD. Recent studies indicate that the efficiency of CBD significantly rises if it is mixed with other cannabinoids, but extracts are considered to be less expensive per milligram of CBD.
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Another important aspect for medical patients is probably how cannabis is being consumed. Since smoking is undoubtedly quite harmful to your lungs and body, it makes sense to either acquire a vaporizer or to stay with oral intake. Side effects of medical marijuana may include drowsiness, sleepiness, red and dry eyes and digestive problems with extracts. Furthermore, in some cases, cannabis may intensify previous conditions such as tinnitus, as recent studies found out. With higher THC level the risks of negative mental effects heavily increase, which will be further elaborated below.
In contrast to medical cannabis, the main purpose of recreational marijuana is to award its consumer with a pleasant and relaxing feeling when smoking, vaping or eating marijuana containing material. Recreational cannabis usually has a high THC content, which releases effects such as euphoria, enjoyable body feelings, relaxation, increased libido and distortions in the perception of time and space. In some occasions, recreational marijuana is used to treat stress, which would technically transform it into medical marijuana.
Same as its medicinal equivalent, recreational cannabis is deeply rooted in mankind’s history. The cannabis plant has supporters all around the globe, with some communities even worshipping it as a gift from God. The Rastafaris, for example, built a religion around marijuana that is even accepted by the government of Jamaica, where cannabis is not legal otherwise.
Although marijuana is said to be less harmful than other intoxicants, like cigarettes and alcohol, consuming the plant comes with a variety of risks that consumers need to be aware of. In general, there are two main factors that heavily amplify the negative effects of cannabis consumption. A crucial aspect is undoubtedly the maternity of a consumer. Evidence was discovered that young adults up to an age of 25 are more likely to develop mental health disorders, especially if they have certain genes.
Another significant amplifier is how you actually consume the cannabis. Especially when smoking the flowers in a joint or pipe, consumers are likely to face coughing, production of sputum, wheezing and other symptoms of chronic bronchitis. In addition, smoke particles that are inhaled by a consumer are proven to raise the chance of various cancer types, most commonly lung cancer. Those risks heavily increase when mixing marijuana with tobacco. In order to tackle these issues, cannabis users could switch to vaporizing, using active charcoal filters or eating edibles.
Last but not least, pre-existing conditions might have another impact on the health of cannabis consumers. With the wrong genetics, cannabis consumption could potentially trigger a great variety of diseases, including heart problems or mental disorders. However, other than propaganda material during the 20th century suggested, marijuana has been proven to not have an impact on adolescent human brain development.
Whatever the reasons for the cannabis use might be, it’s always wise to stay away from any mind-altering drugs as the risk for further diseases is omnipresent with such substances. For medical purposes, marijuana might be a highly effective treatment method, but as usual with natural products, effects may vary heavily from patient to patient.