Health Benefits of Cannabis: A 2017 Retrospective.

The medical effects of marijuana continue to make headlines, and 2017 was no exception. As cannabis has legalized across the nation in dozens of states, it’s been easier for researchers to access data surrounding the positive medical effects the drug has on human beings suffering from disease and illness.

In January 2017 The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) issued a compilation study showing the medical benefit of marijuana. This article covers the high points of what we learned about the medical power of pot in 2017.

NASEM Report

This report was the most comprehensive analysis of more than 10,000 scientific studies to data on medicinal marijuana. While the researchers were quick to suggest that more research needs to be done in all of these areas, the current scientific literature seems to suggest that consumption of marijuana has the following positive effects:

  • A study by the Mayo Clinic links marijuana consumption to decreases in blood pressure. Yet another study suggested the opposite, but the NASEM report stated the research methodology in that study was flawed. The Business Insider suggests, “So while there’s probably a link between smoking marijuana and high blood pressure, there’s not enough research yet to say that one leads to the other.”
  • While pot affects the lungs, it doesn’t appear to cause lung cancer. Any smoking can irritate the bronchial tubes, leading to bronchitis, the study determined. However, the NASEM report said there was no evidence that smoking pot causes lung cancer.
  • Cannabis is clearly linked to pain relief as a therapeutic effect. Ill patients who have intense pain most frequently request marijuana across any of the states where it is legal for medical use. The pain relief seems to be linked to CBD and THC, two of the psychoactive ingredients in the plant.
  • In the fall of 2017, another study suggested that marijuana is not the gateway drug that opponents make it out to be. In fact, there is evidence that marijuana actually helps deter people from transitioning to harder drugs. This is a particularly important finding since drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, according to the Business Insider.
  • The study also showed that the current research points to marijuana as increasing cerebral blood flow, which is a key preventative for stroke. The THC in marijuana relaxes blood vessels, which helps prevent blood clots and stroke.
  • New drugs are on their way to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) that used some of the chemical components of marijuana in an epilepsy drug. This drug was designed to treat chronic epilepsy and Dravet syndrome patients, which have severe seizures from infancy throughout their life.
  • Marijuana has also been shown to stimulate the sex drive. Citing a Stanford University study, the report suggested that people who smoke marijuana regularly have 20% more sex than those who don’t.

With these positive effects in mind, the study also pointed out that using marijuana during pregnancy is potentially harmful to the fetus. However, there is considerable research on the books that show pot has some seriously positive medical effects. But, like the NASEM report stated, more research needs to be done.