According to some reports, around 182 million people across the globe consume marijuana, however, the United Nation’s World Drug Report estimates the number to be closer to 238 million. With North American countries, such as the United States and Canada, showing leniency in the production, use, and distribution of this plant, many people might be curious to know what the hype is all about.
Here are some essential things you need to know about cannabis, the so-called ‘miracle plant’.
The Basics About Cannabis
When people hear the word ‘marijuana,’ a lot of them think about the negative connotations associated with this naturally-occurring plant. This is why it’s important to go back to the most basic question: what is cannabis? Cannabis is a plant that grows naturally in various climates, especially tropical and temperate areas. In fact, it is so easy to grow that it can even be cultivated indoors.
What makes this crop different is its chemical contents. It has compounds (also called cannabinoids) such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabinol (CBN). These compounds induce different effects on the human body, depending on the amount ingested or applied.
The marijuana plant has three primary species, namely Cannabis sativa, indica, and ruderalis. Sativa is known to give a ‘head’ high, which gets the creative juices flowing. It also gives an energy boost and enhances focus, making it perfect for use during the day. These effects are due to its balance of THC and CBD content.
Indica produces a ‘body’ high, which contains considerable amounts of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. It has sedative properties, allowing for effective pain relief and insomnia treatment. Meanwhile, ruderalis has low amounts of THC, but what makes it special for many budtenders is its auto-flowering attributes, making it easier to grow. Many growers are cross-breeding these different species to create hybrid strains that have the desired amount of cannabinoid and growth.
Medical Marijuana Through the Ages
You might be thinking that the medicinal use of marijuana is a modern-day discovery. In truth, the medical application of this crop can be traced way, way back to ancient times. Research shows that as early as 2737 BC, the ancient Chinese used this herb as a treatment for a wide variety of conditions such as rheumatism and gout. There is also evidence of cannabis being used to cure medical conditions in ancient Egypt. One of the oldest medical textbooks, The Ebers Papyrus, written circa 1550 BC, details how hemp was used to treat depression, glaucoma, hemorrhoids and even cancer.
The cannabis plant is valued by other cultures too for its religious, recreational and even spiritual significance. These cultures include ancient Japan and India. Even in the Medieval Ages, marijuana was incorporated into folk medicine, especially for treating ailments and illnesses like coughs and tumors.
Today, modern research is only beginning to recognize hemp for its valuable potential in medicine. Marijuana is now helping care for and treat a wide range of both minor and severe conditions, including epilepsy and cancer. In fact, CBD oil is found to be effective in minimizing extreme conditions in people suffering from a rare form of epilepsy. Moreover, it shows promise in reducing nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. It also aids in regaining lost weight brought on by cachexia, a cancer-related wasting disease similar to anorexia.
Other conditions that marijuana and its cannabinoids can help with include multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, and many other debilitating diseases and symptoms.
Other Uses of Cannabis
Aside from using hemp to treat minor and major medical conditions, this plant also has huge potential in sexual health and skin health. According to research, this herb increases sexual desire in women by up to 20%. THC is said to activate a part of a woman’s brain that deals with sexual arousal, increasing the libido and creating a healthier sex life. Moreover, it is found to reduce discomfort during sex, making the experience a more pleasurable one for women.
CBD also exhibits the most potential for skin care in that it can address many issues encountered by many people, including acne attacks, oily skin, dehydration, aging, and itching. It has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that can prevent swelling and pimples, as well as treat acne and even bug bites. CBD has two working effects in the skin: it can moisturize skin or regulate oil production, when needed.
Of course, no list is complete without mentioning the recreational use of marijuana. Whether to uplift your mood or to energize yourself, this plant can definitely improve your disposition. Aside from treating mood and mental disorders, it is used to relieve stress and induce relaxation.
Legalization of Cannabis Across the Globe
With more and more studies being conducted on this so-called miracle plant, many countries around the world are allowing the medical and even recreational use of cannabis. As of today, 30 countries permit the use of medical hemp. Check out the status of marijuana legalization across the globe:
When it comes to marijuana laws, Uruguay is most noteworthy. This South American country was the first to legalize cannabis fully way back in 2013. The reason for the legalization was to facilitate efficient treatments for patients. With the production and distribution of cannabis being legalized, and thus regulated by the government, Uruguay anticipated lower drug-related crime statistics.
Canada was the second country to legalize the medical and recreational use of cannabis countrywide. Regulation is also the reason why this plant was legalised in Canada. Because it is regulated, the government can prevent minors from using it, while increasing tax revenues and preventing criminal organizations from profiting.
- United States
The midterm elections held in November 2018 resulted in further legalizing medical marijuana throughout the United States to include Utah and Missouri, the two most recent states that allow the use of this herb for medicinal purposes. Out of the 33 US states that have legalized marijuana to date, ten of them, including Washington, DC, also permit the recreational use. However, marijuana remains illegal on a federal level.
Europe is seen as the most progressive region when it comes to therapeutic hemp. European countries like The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Norway, and Germany have allowed patients easier access to this plant and its compounds. Nations such as France and Spain allow using cannabis-derived medicine only for specific conditions.
Regarding African countries, Zimbabwe is a trailblazer when it comes to allowing this plant for medical use. Patients seeking to use this herb should have the appropriate permits.
Marijuana Products You Can Use
Cigarettes and Vapes
Smoking marijuana in rolled, cigarette-form is one of the most popular ways to consume it. In states in which marijuana is legal, for recreational and medical uses, you can purchase dried buds and joints in accredited dispensaries. If you want to avoid the negative effects of smoking, inhaling vapors might be your best option. These dispensaries are also likely to carry vape liquids infused with cannabinoids.
Should you prefer a more discreet option, you might want to get edibles. These are food products and drinkables infused with cannabis. You can get these in candy form such as gummies, chocolates, and suckers. Have a liking for baked goods? You are in for a treat as you can get cakes, brownies, and cookies mixed with hemp, as well!
If you choose not to consume hemp orally, topical products are perfect for you. You can get these in the form of tinctures, creams, balms, and ointments. These are great for relieving muscle and joint pains as you can directly apply them to targeted sites. Moreover, using topicals allows for the fairly discreet consumption of cannabis. You can also orally ingest tinctures by simply placing a few drops under your tongue.
Other Cannabis Products
Cannabis-based products are not only good for your skin, but also your hair. This is why there are shampoos infused with cannabinoids. Other products you can buy include capsules, lotions and essential oils.
When getting these products, make sure that you have a good grip on the marijuana laws in your state, and then find a licensed dispensary. Take note of the dosage, as well as the cannabinoid content and percentages. This way, you can get the dosage you need and want. Keep in mind that you can purchase products mixed with cannabis with high amounts of CBD but without THC. This means that it will not get you high but still give you the benefits of consuming cannabis.
From the medical, religious and recreational uses of marijuana in ancient times to the recent modern-day developments, it cannot be denied that this plant is gaining ground in many parts of the world. These developments have helped many patients and recreational users to get easier and safer access to this naturally-occurring substance. With the increasing amount of support given to, and research into, studying and legalizing cannabis, more people can take advantage of what cannabis has to offer.