What is Cannabis: Types, Effects, Medical Benefits and Legal Status

What is cannabis

Cannabis which also known as hemp, is a descendant from family of plants called Cannabinaceae. Cannabis includes the chemical compound THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), which is thought to be the reason for most of the distinctive psychotropic impacts of cannabis that gives the feeling of “high” that cannabis users experience. Nevertheless, not all elements of cannabis are psychotropic.

The dried-up leaves and buds of the cannabis plant are also known as marijuana, which can be smoked or consumed in an edible form such as brownies, cookies, gummies.

The resinous excretions of cannabis are recognized as hashish, which can also be smoked or used in edibles. With its applications in textile industries, the cannabis fiber is cultivated as industrial hemp.

Effects of Cannabis

The effects which are experienced by the cannabis users are unpredictable and is dependent upon the dosage, technique of consumption, previous experience, individual expectations, parallel drug use, state of mood and the collective situation in which the drug is consumed.

Cannabis may result an improved state of perception. The user may experience the feeling of “highness”, euphoric, sociable relaxed, and even spontaneous.

It may also demonstrate altered experiences of space and time. The user may become more receptive to things around them and may also feel a more vibrant feeling of sight, taste, scent and hearing. Cannabis can result in heightened pulse and heart rate, dilated pupils, sore eyes, and every so often an increase in appetite. It may also result in diminished coordination and focus, creating activities such as driving a car or operating machinery challenging and hazardous.

Individuals who use significant amounts of cannabis may become numb or sedated and may encounter toxic neurosis such not realizing where they are, who they are, or what time it is. Excessive doses may also trigger fragmented thoughts, fluctuating sentiments, delusions, panic attacks, and emotions of illusions.

Types of Cannabis Plants

The Cannabis plant does not have the characteristics of a typical plant. A few people may even go as far as blaming it to have bad repute. The worse situation arises when users abuse its consumption. Nevertheless, its use is not restricted to only recreational uses. As a matter of fact, because there are various types of cannabis plants, it has been demonstrated to be useful for its medical uses. A mystery to many, these notorious plants also have numerous manufacturing/industrial uses too. 3 most common types of cannabis plants are described below:

1. Cannabis Sativa

Equatorial regions are the places where sativa plants were first originated. As these regions have more steady cycle of sunlight, it created the ability to keep on growing even while blooming. Because it has a more prolonged blossoming period, it tends to have a superior harvest. Having stretched and pointed leaves, the Sativa plants are frequently referred as finger-like.

Besides the exterior appearance, the impacts of Sativa plants are also distinctive. In the past years, one of the factors that producers focused on was to have a high-level of THC content, the compound that is responsible for the psychotropic properties of the plant.

2. Cannabis Indica

Originating from the sub-tropical countries, Indica plants mostly flourishes where there is a more substantial variation in the cycle of sunlight. As it tends to start blossoming as soon as it achieves maturity, for commercial farmers, the pace in which it matures means they can generate more and, thus, make more money.

Dissimilar to Sativa, the leaves of Indica plants are wider and larger. It is well known to mimic a fan. It also does not grow up to be as tall as sativa (usually grows from 3 to 9 feet). Due to its substantially shorter composition, many people choose to grow it at home.

Like Sativa, many of the contemporary Indica plants also have a high-level amount of THC. Nevertheless, most also come with high CBD content, the element that has substantial therapeutic benefits but without the feeling of high.

3. Cannabis Ruderalis

Among the three types of cannabis, Ruderalis is the smallest with a typical height of 1 to 2 feet. It is also a shaggy plant with dense twigs and wide leaves.

In comparison to the other two plants, Ruderalis does not have much CBD or THC. As such, generally people reject it as being ineffective for both the leisure and medicinal uses.

For cultivators, Ruderalis is a precious plant for two purposes. The first one is that they can use it to create new crossbreeds that include both the Indica and Sativa inheritances. The second one is that they can also create auto-blossoming seeds which is its indigenous characteristic.

Uses of Cannabis

Starting from the 19th century, cannabis became renowned for its recreational uses. As the consumption of this drug soared over time, The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 categorized it as a Scheduled 1 Drug. As a result, the regular debates stirred bordering the medicinal use of cannabis.

To promote it more as a medical-friendly substance, its effective ingredient THC was analyzed in 1966, and ultimately endorsed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1985.

A U.S. Government sponsored study done by the Institute of Medicine in 1999 discovered the helpful properties of cannabis in particular medical symptoms such as vomiting triggered by chemotherapy in Cancer treatment. As per herbonaut.com, a study that investigated the effects of cannabis smoking and its effects on prolonged neuropathic pain discovered that vaping cannabis 2-3 times a day for a week developed in a substantial reduction (27%) of apparent pain, by patients with chronic condition. As per medicalnewstoday.com, researchers declared that cannabis consumption helped reduce 39 percent seizure occurrence. This delivers strong proof that cannabis can also help people living with Dravet syndrome.

Medical Benefits of Cannabis

Some of the most common medical benefits of Cannabis is described below:

1. Slow Down and Prevent Cancer Cells from Spreading

Circulated in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, a study found that Cannabishas the capability to prevent cancer by turning off a gene labeled as Id-1. In 2007, scientists at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, stated that CBD may stop cancer from expanding. The scientists tested on breast cancer cells in the laboratory that had high content of Id-1 and applied them with cannabis.

The result was somewhat positive, the cells had reduced Id-1 manifestation, and were not as much of hostile spreaders. As a matter of fact, the American Association for Cancer Research has further discovered that cannabis essentially operates to slow down benign tumor development in breast brain, and lungs substantially. In addition, as per herbonaut.com, a study completed in 2001 discovered that chemotherapy patients who consumed cannabis demonstrated a 70-100% relief from sickness and vomiting due to the treatment.

2. Treating Alzheimer’s Disease

THC, the effective element which is found in cannabis reduces the advancement of Alzheimer’s disease. A 2006 research guided by Kim Janda of the Scripps Research Institute uncovered that THC slow down the creation of amyloid plaques by stopping the enzyme in the brain that produces them. These plaques destroy the brain cells, and evidently lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Treatment of Glaucoma

Cannabis can be applied in the treatment of glaucoma, which heightens the tension in the eyeball, damaging the optic nerve and resulting in the loss of vision. As per National Eye Institute, cannabis reduces the tension inside the eye. Research done in the early 90’s demonstrated that cannabis, when consumed, reduced intraocular pressure (IOP) in individuals with natural pressure and those with glaucoma syndrome. These effects of cannabis can help stop blindness among patients.

4. Treatment of Arthritis

In early 2011, scientists informed that cannabis diminishes pain and soreness, and stimulates sleep, which may assist relieve pain and irritation for patients with rheumatoid arthritis condition. Scientists of the rheumatology units at numerous hospitals offered their patients Sativex, a cannabis-based pain-reducing medication. After 14 days, patients on Sativex had a substantial decrease in pain, and enhanced improved sleep quality compared to palliative users.

5. Treatment of Epileptic Seizure

A study done on 2003 demonstrated that cannabis use can be effective in the treatment of epileptic seizure. Robert J. DeLorenzo from Virginia Commonwealth University provided cannabis extract and artificial cannabis to rats with epileptic syndrome. The drugs halted the seizures for about 10+ hours.

The THC content of cannabis stopped the seizures by attaching the brain cells accountable for controlling impulsiveness and controlling relaxation. The findings of the study were circulated in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

6. Treatment of Crohn’s Disease

Cannabis can be helpful in the treatment of Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel syndrome that triggers vomiting, pain, diarrhea, loss in weight, and many more.

A recent study done in Israel revealed that smoking cannabis can substantially decreased Crohn’s disease symptoms in 99 percent of the test patients. In addition, it also caused a total cure of the disease in five of those patients.

Although this is a small study, but other studies have also demonstrated similar findings. The cannabinoids from cannabis have proven to help the stomach control microbes and intestinal functions.

7. Treatment of PTSD among Veterans

Cannabis is authorized to treat PTSD in several states in USA. In New Mexico, PTSD is the major reason for individuals to get a permit for medical cannabis, but U.S. Government’s The Department of Health and Human Services has also accepted a proposal that includes smoked or vaporized cannabis use for treatment of PTSD. Cannabinoids in cannabis can help regulate the procedure that causes anxiety and nervousness in a PTSD patient.

8. Treating Pain of Multiple Sclerosis

Cannabis is helpful in stopping the adverse nerve impacts and muscle tremors caused by multiple sclerosis syndrome. A Canadian Medical Association study indicates that cannabis may relieve distressing symptoms of multiple sclerosis syndrome.

As per the study done by Jody Cory Bloom from Department of Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine, 30 patients with multiple sclerosis syndrome were treated with cannabis. These patients didn’t react to other form of medicines, but after smoking cannabis for two weeks, they testified that they were experiencing less pain. The THC in the cannabis attaches the receptors in the brain cells and to ease the sense of pain.

What is cannabis

Possible Demerits

Using cannabis for long term may result in pain in the lungs and poses risk of growing severe bronchitis and an heightened risk of forming cancer in lungs. It may also cause aggravation of pre-occurring cardiac disease, as cannabis use substantially increases the heartbeat. Excessive usage may also result in reduced absorption levels, diminished short-term memory and problems with cognitive ability.

It might also result in reduced sex life in some individuals. Frequent usage can also reduce sperm count in men and unusual periods in women. Long-term dependency on cannabis may also lead to obsessive need to consume the drug, combined with difficulties linked with the regular usage of cannabis. It might also result in cannabinoid hyperemesis disease.

Things to Avoid While Using Cannabis

It is recommended to not drive vehicles, operate equipment, or carry out other activities which might result in public hazard while under the usage of cannabis. Cannabis may trigger tiredness, shakiness, and compromised mental capacity. It is unlawful to drive vehicles under the influence of Cannabis.

Do not consume alcohol while under the influence of cannabis. Alcohol results in tiredness, vertigo, and decreased cognitive ability. Cannabis might also boost the side effects of other medications that trigger sleepiness, including antidepressant drug, antihistamines, liquor, tranquilizers, pain killers, anxiety medications and epilepsy drugs.

It is recommended to not use cannabis if you are expecting or trying to have a child. There is multiple proof that women who smoke cannabis during the pregnancy which may enhance the probability of having children with birth defects. Pregnant women who continue consuming cannabis are at risk of giving birth to babies with health complications. In addition, it is recommended to not use cannabis if you are nursing a baby. Cannabis medications, CBD oil, or edibles with cannabis should be stored safely where kids or pets, cannot reach the product. Severe side effects may occur if kids or pets accidently consume the drug.

Legalization of Cannabis

According to a statistics published in health.harvard.ed, about 85% of Americans are in favor of legalizing medical cannabis, and it is projected that at least millions Americans presently use it for a number of medical purposes. As of 2021, 33 states and the District of Columbia lawfully permit cannabis for private medical use. Regulations encompassing the consumption of medical cannabis differ from state to state. The very first state in the association to authorize the medical use of cannabis was California in 1996. States that permit medical cannabis usage include: Arizona, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Colorado, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Ohio, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Utah, South Dakota, Washington and Vermont.

The control over medical cannabis in the United States is regulated at the state level. It is crucial to understand that these state cannabis laws do not alter the reality that using cannabis continues to be be categorized as an offense under Federal law. According to U.S. federal laws, cannabis is prohibited, and a schedule 1 substance as stated in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. Consumption of medical cannabis beyond the state laws for illicit use or smuggling will be dealt criminally by state or federal government.

Different Cannabinoids and Their Uses

Cannabinoids are biologically occurring chemical elements that are found in cannabis plants and are usually exclusive to the plant.

Cannabinoids are usually the endogenous cannabinoids. These also grows inside the human body and functions to promote homeostasis, which controls internal wellbeing and immune system tasks. Endocannabinoids operate by communicating with other cells and can generate parallel, moderate ecstatic reactions.

How Many Cannabinoids are There?

The main components of the cannabinoid bunch are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Almost all adult American has heard of these elements, whether they consume cannabis recreationally or for medical purpose or don’t use it at all.

Nevertheless, the number of cannabinoids grows past CBD and THC. Although, estimations differ, but at least 70-100 distinct types of cannabinoids have been discovered till date, with many more believed to be still discovered.

Given these variations, the connections between cannabinoids are also of immense importance. For instance, the cannabinoid CBD does not intermingle with CB-1 brain cell receptors similar to the way as THC does and it essentially hinders with THC attaching to the receptors. This clarifies why strains with a high-level CBD potency don’t generate as strong of a psychotropic high.

Thanks to this theory, foods, and strains can be genetically engineered to contain particular cannabinoids. Through this approach, a specific effect can be attained, whether anti-swelling, decreased stress, elation, or invigorated creativity. Some of the most common kinds of cannabinoids and their benefits and effects are described below:

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

THC is the only cannabinoids that will give you the high feeling. It’s in the subgroup, in existence, the other psychotropic cannabinoids don’t have the same intoxicating effect as THC.

THC however is one of the most plentiful cannabinoids in contemporary cannabis creations and species, being the first one to be separated. Usually, THC attaches with CB-1 receptors in the brain and can generate strong psychotropic influences, as well as joy, easing, and happiness. For medicinal uses, THC can assist with pain assistance, ingestion and state of mind. It’s been regularly utilized to handle symptoms of distinct medical syndromes including epilepsy, Parkinson’s syndrome, insomnia, and Cancer.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

The second-highest renowned cannabinoid is known as CBD which exhibits exactly the opposite characteristics of THC. CBD does not generate hallucinogenic effects correlated with THC, a sensation easily described by how the individual cannabinoids act. CBD is more biased to attaching with CB-2 receptors discovered all over the human body. As a result, it generates effects that are more physical, such as diminished stress, enhanced appetite and improved sleep cycle. It exhibits many characteristics like THC, but users who don’t want as strong of a high can use CBD-prevailing strains and products to accomplish the equal preferred effects.

Cannabigerol (CBG)

CBG is a less common cannabinoid which is drawing new attention among scientists and growers for its desired benefits. Non-psychotropic like CBD, cannabigerol is regularly present in very small amounts in the cannabis plant. CBG is being hyped as a cannabinoid that’s efficient at tackling cancerous tumor growth, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, and prickly bowel condition.

Cannabichromene (CBC)

CBC is a non-psychotropic, small cannabinoid that’s attracting attention for therapeutic capability. Just like CBD, CBC functions as a shield against THC. More significantly, it has been noticed to be a part in neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, key tasks of brain development and strength. Intriguingly, CBC has also been observed to have anti-swelling properties without stimulating endocannabinoid receptors. Certain reason its abilities can be improved when it intermingles with other cannabinoids that do attach to brain cell receptors.

Final Thoughts

There is substantial evidence that proves both the problems and medical benefits of cannabis. Although the development over the past decades were very thorough, up-to-date evaluations of the scientific research assessing the advantages and problems of the drug, it’s evident that more study is needed to fully establish the public health consequences of rising cannabis usage.

Several scientific communities and health associations, including the American Cancer Society (ACS) — backs the necessity for advance scientific study on the use of cannabis and cannabinoids and their usage to treat medical ailments.

However, the main roadblock is that cannabis is categorized as a Schedule I controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which discourages the research of cannabis and cannabinoids through its obligation of strict restrictions on the scientists working in this plant.

Although there are multiple data backing the use for cannabis for many medical syndromes, you should surely avoid cannabis if you have a past of psychological fitness troubles. Always, consider speaking with your physician before getting any new treatment with cannabis.

About the author

Joyana feels that with the strains, everything is possible, and you should only reproduce what makes you happy. Her 10 years of writing experience comes after studying mass media and communications at the University of Toronto in Canada. Everything about strains can be confusing and difficult to comprehend, but she simplifies the issue of strains in words with top-notch research and in-depth experience in the area, and you receive the proper information with his easy write-up. Olivia adores children, and she spends her free time bringing delicious presents to the children's home, such as chocolates and cookies.

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