Marijuana Misconceptions


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Marijuana is now legal in 36 states for medicinal purposes and 17 states for recreational use. The drug has been touted for its pain-relieving and calming effects, but there are some myths you should know about. Ivanhoe explains.

It’s just about everywhere you look and is legalized in more states every year. But there’s more to the story when it comes to marijuana use.

“The common misconceptions and attitudes is that marijuana is harmless, which it’s not,” explained Cynthia Fontanella, PhD, from the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Health at The Ohio State University.

In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, marijuana contains three to five times the amount of carcinogens as tobacco. And marijuana can lead to permanent IQ loss of as much as eight points if you start using it at a young age. Studies also link the drug to depression, anxiety, suicide, self-harm, and psychotic episodes. Another myth: it’s not addictive!

“Cannabis use disorder is frequent use of cannabis use and causing significant impairment in functioning,” continued Fontanella.

Studies suggest that 30 percent of those who use marijuana have some degree of cannabis use disorder.

And our last fallacy: it’s ok to drive with marijuana in your system. Fontanella said the truth is the drug significantly impairs judgement, motor coordination, and reaction time and can increase your chances of a car crash. Helping you to understand misconceptions about marijuana.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said people who use marijuana are more likely to have relationship issues, poor educational outcomes, and low career achievement.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.

REPORT #2858

BACKGROUND: Marijuana is the most used mind-altering drug in the U.S., after alcohol. It’s illegal in some states, but other states have legalized it for medical and recreational use. The chemicals in marijuana are found in the leaves and flowering shoots and the most well-known of these chemicals is THC. There are also manmade chemicals that act like THC that are much stronger. They are referred to as synthetic marijuana and sold under names such as K2, Kronic, or Spice. Marijuana can be used in several forms. It’s often smoked as a dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, around nine  in-ten Americans favor some form of marijuana legalization. About 91 percent of U.S. adults say that either marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use or that it should be legal for medical use only. Only 8 percent say the drug should not be legal in any form.

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MEDICAL MARIJUANA AS TREATMENT: Medicinal properties of marijuana and its components have been debated for decades. THC has proven medical benefits in particular formulations. The FDA approved THC-based medications that can be prescribed in pill form and is used for the treatment of nausea in patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy, as well as to stimulate appetite in patients with wasting syndrome due to AIDS. The FDA also approved a CBD-based liquid medication for the treatment of two forms of severe childhood epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. It is delivered to patients in a dosage form through a reproducible route of delivery to ensure patients derive the anticipated benefits. A growing number of states have legalized the dispensing of marijuana or its extracts to people with a range of medical conditions. However, the concern with “medical marijuana” is that little is known about the long-term impact of its use by people with health and/or age-related vulnerabilities such as older adults or people with cancer, AIDS, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, or other neurodegenerative diseases.


HOPE FOR CHRONIC PAIN: Research out of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark by Dr. Alex Bekker and colleagues investigated how cannabis could be used to ease the pain associated with opioid addiction and withdrawal. The team also assessed the safety of medicinal cannabis, an essential step towards allowing the potential of this treatment to be realized. Past studies showed that cannabis could lessen the need for opioids in chronic pain treatment. Cannabinoids, in particular, helped to lessen the side effects of opioids and the severe impact of opioid withdrawal. Bekker and his colleagues showed that cannabis activates cannabinoid receptors in the lateral habenula, which dulls the activity in this part of the brain, resulting in a lessening of hyperalgesia. This reduces the pain experienced by those individuals suffering hyperalgesia or going through opioid withdrawal, and they are less likely to seek out more opioids as their pain escalates. Bekker advises that cannabis is unsuitable for patients with certain conditions such as psychiatric and cardiovascular illnesses. It should be used in the setting of a continuous, close relationship between doctor and patient.



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Amy Colgan



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