What is the Difference between Medical Cannabis & Marijuana?
Over the past few decades, the ever-increasing use of medical marijuana has contributed greatly to the growth in cannabis consumption across the world, especially in the North Americas and Europe. As per a 2019 estimate, there are currently more than 360 thousand registered medical cannabis patients in Canada. Doctors and healthcare professionals nowadays prescribe and advocate medicinal marijuana to provide symptom reliefs for a range of medical conditions. Now, the thing is that not all marijuana products are meant for therapeutic uses. In some states, marijuana consumption is also legal for non-medical, simply recreational purposes and there are cannabis products that have very little medicinal value. Keep reading to find out all the relevant info you need to know before heading to your local medical cannabis doc.
What is medical cannabis?
To put it simply, medical marijuana refers to various cannabis and cannabinoid products which are used to treat symptoms of a range of medical conditions and diseases. It is available in a variety of forms – pills, capsules, lozenges, dermal patches, extracts, oils, eatables or the unprocessed buds – and can be consumed in different ways and dosages under medical supervision. There are also dronabinol and nabilone – medicinal cannabinoid derivatives sold in synthetic form. The potency of medical marijuana depends on the particular strain and the form. So before you start taking it, you need to consult your doctor to understand which product is best suited for you.
Different therapeutic uses of marijuana
People have been using cannabis as an analgesic and antispasmodic substance for centuries. However, with the development of a clear understanding of CBD-THC in the 1960s and the discovery of the endocannabinoid receptors and ligands in the human body in the 1980s and 1990s, therapeutic uses of cannabis have been on the rise like never before. Though some stigmas still persist, every year, more and more people are starting medical marijuana consumption to alleviate a range of symptoms related to various health or psychological disorders. In many cases, it is administered to counteract adverse side-effects of a particular treatment or medication. Commonly, medical cannabis is prescribed to relieve various symptoms and medical conditions such as:
• Loss of appetite
• Insomnia and other sleep disorders
• Seizures including rare forms of epilepsies
• Different forms of sclerosis
• Muscle spasms
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome
• Crohn’s Disease
• Alzheimer’s Disease
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Other neuropathic and mental disorders
In cases of pain management in particular, medical cannabis has proved to be highly effective. For patients suffering from various chronic muscle or neuropathic pains associated with cancer and other diseases, it is considered to be a far better option than the opiates or pain medications like Lyrica or Neurontin which are extremely sedating.
How is medical cannabis different from ordinary marijuana?
Though medical cannabis belongs to the same plant genus cannabis, it is different from simple marijuana or weed meant for recreational uses on various accounts.
• To begin with, there is a legal distinction between the two types. States where only the therapeutic use of marijuana is legalized, not all cannabinoid products can pass as medical cannabis. There are strict guidelines about what constitutes a particular marijuana product fit for medicinal uses. And of course, you’ll need a doctor’s prescription or a recommendation from a licensed healthcare professional to buy medical cannabis online or from your local dispensary.
• This brings us to the second difference: generally speaking, varying THC/CBD ratio in medical and recreational cannabis products make them distinct from each other. Recreational marijuana products are usually high in THC or tetrahydrocannabinol and low in CBD or cannabidiol. It is the presence of the high THC content that produces the euphoric effect on the recreational marijuana user. Medical cannabis, on the other hand, has high CBD content as opposed to THC in it. CBD, it is believed, is a calming and tranquilizing substance which has various pain-relieving, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and antipsychotic properties. You can think of the CBD-high medical cannabis as marijuana without the usual high and mood-altering effects. Different marijuana strains with varying degrees of CBD and effects are available in the market. In most of the cases, cannabis strains meant for medicinal uses are bred in highly controlled environments under constant monitoring of the pharmaceutical companies and medical experts. Different CBD heavy strains are genetically bred to make them useful in targeting specific health conditions or mental disorders.
• In terms of effects, recreational marijuana can be radically different from medical cannabis. While the former affects you on a psychoactive level and makes you agitated, the later has a clearly opposite, anti-psychotic effect. This makes it extremely useful in treating psychological disorders.
• There is another difference between the two. In some states, even children are allowed to take medical cannabis under prescription. The use of recreational marijuana with a high THC content, wherever it is legalized, is strictly limited to the adults.
In recent years, medical marijuana, especially CBD, has become one of the most favored topics of medicinal researches and clinical trials with both the government agencies and big pharma companies channeling huge funds into it. Even the World Health Organization today recognizes the alleviating effects that medical cannabis has on ‘nausea and vomiting in the advanced stages of illnesses such as cancer and AIDS’ and calls for more researches on ‘the central and peripheral mechanisms of the effects of cannabinoids on gastrointestinal function’ as well as the neuropharmacology of them.
One of the major areas of today’s medical cannabis researches includes studies into the effects of cannabinoids on the human brain and their potential uses in treating various neurological disorders. Numerous studies have already proved that it is totally safe to take medical cannabis but only if you know what type and dosage you require. So, before you start to take it on a regular basis, go consult a doctor or keep reading our posts!