Though a lot of people in the veteran community have heard of medical marijuana, not many are well educated on the number of benefits that the cannabinoids found in cannabis help aid. These cannabinoids are responsible for the benefits of cannabis including a number of physical and mental health concerns we talk about in this article. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most studied cannabinoids. They both interact with the endocannabinoid system but can produce different natural effects, which is where we see the most benefits.
One of the key differences between CBD and THC is the psychoactive effect or the “high” which induced when consuming a high amount of THC.
THC is the cannabinoid most people think of when they think of marijuana. It binds with our system’s cannabinoid 1 receptors (CB1), which is found mainly in the brain and the central nervous systems of our bodies. THC activates our CB1 receptors, exclusively inducing the psychoactive effect that is the high associated with marijuana use. The cannabinoid known as CBD, on the other hand, does not bind with CB1. This means that CBD does not induce a high.
Differences in Legality
Marijuana and THC are listed in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act and therefore prohibited under federal law. Twenty-nine U.S. states and Washington D.C. have passed their own cannabis policies permitting the use of medical cannabis if first recommended by a licensed physician. Eight of those states and Washington D.C. have gone a step further and legalized the recreational use of marijuana and THC.
CBD is legally available in every state in America, but it must come from what is referred to as high-CBD, low-THC hemp (or hemp-derived CBD). If extracted from marijuana, CBD is illegal unless obtained through a state-licensed dispensary or in a state that permits recreational marijuana use. 46 states legally allow CBD products that are marijuana-derived but in four states, (Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota) marijuana-derived CBD is illegal. CBD products extracted from hemp are considered dietary supplements in the U.S. and legal to buy and sell anywhere. Please call us with any questions regarding the legality of CBD in your state.
How does marijuana affect the body?
There are various ways in which cannabis interacts with the body that can be activated through the consumption of the difference either available cannabinoid.
The effects of THC on the body include:
- Pain relief
- Appetite stimulant
- Reduce the symptoms of glaucoma
- Natural sleep aid
- Counteract anxiety
- Muscular spasticity
Other potential uses include the treatment and use of THC for chronic pain such as; neuropathic pain, pain caused by injury or accident, depression, insomnia, PTSD, which are just a few among a growing list.
CBD benefits include but are not limited to:
- Treating forms of epilepsy
- Reducing physical pain
- Treating hypoxia-ischemia
CBD is a good substitute for anxiolytics, antipsychotics, analgesics, anti-inflammatory medicines, anti-asthmatic medicines, and it has shown promising results for its anti-tumor properties.
Those who suffer from PTSD, anxiety, psychosis, and depression, as well as multiple sclerosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, and many more, can benefit from treatment with CBD.
Marijuana and Epilepsy
The American Epilepsy Society states that CBD offers hope for seizure disorders,. Modern research is being conducted to better understand the intricacies of CBD and seizures. A study from 2016 worked with 214 people diagnosed with epilepsy where participants ingested oral doses of CBD daily to their existing anti-epilepsy medications. The researchers monitored the participants for 12 weeks, recording any side effects and checking on the frequency of their seizures. Overall, participants had 36.5% fewer seizures per month. Any adverse effects were recorded in 12% of the participants.
Marijuana for Pain Relief
Both, scientific and anecdotal evidence suggest that we can use marijuana for pain as an alternative to opioid painkillers or chemical alternatives such as Advil or Tylenol. Due to the ease at which doctors prescribe opioids, many people have found themselves dependent on them, causing a nationwide crisis. One of the benefits cannabis presents is that it is a safer alternative to opiates. For those who struggle from nervous system conditions, marijuana works especially well to reduce their levels of pain.
Marijuana and Anxiety/PTSD
Several studies point to the potential benefits of CBD for anxiety, depression, and PTSD. For generalized anxiety, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that CBD has been shown to reduce stress in animal studies. Study subjects were observed as having lower behavioral signs of anxiety, or nervous behavior. Their physiological symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heart rate, also improved as a result of the CBD. A growing number of veterans with PTSD turn to marijuana as an alternative to widely prescribed drugs. This is often to avoid unwanted side effects most prescription medicines have. CBD is proven to help improve a person’s mood. Another mentionable benefit the CBD cannabinoid has is that it acts as a sleeping aid and can help with nightmares and insomnia.
Marijuana and Dementia
Studies show that cannabinoids in cannabis, including THC, appear to remove the amyloid clumps (which are found in Alzheimer’s patients) from nerve cells. As of today, however, no studies have researched the effects of cannabis as a preventative measure on Alzheimer’s. While studies in the laboratory show some promise, more research needs to be conducted on the relationship between CBD, THC, and Alzheimers.
A few small clinical trials have assessed the effects of cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, on behavioral symptoms of dementia. However, scientific reviews have found that the trials and studies so far have generally been small or of low quality making it difficult to come to a conclusive conclusion.
Check your state’s laws regarding the use of medical marijuana for veterans and make sure to consult with a qualified physician prior to making any decisions about self-medicating.
As part of the U.S. & Latin Veteran Support Embassy, we at Veterans Cannabis Operations look to help you by answering any questions you may have about medical marijuana. Our programs are dedicated to finding veterans and their family members qualified physicians and quality medicine.
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