The growth of the marijuana industry is frankly staggering. This multi-billion dollar market is attracting new states and countries in droves, all of them after its lucrative profit margins. As scientists around the world uncover new health benefits almost daily, consumers are taking notice too. More and more people smoke weed now than ever before, and they are doing it regularly to boot.
However, despite its growing momentum, cannabis is an illegal drug on the national level, listed as Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, where it shares company with heroin and LSD, which have no medical benefits and a high potential for abuse. We now know what hogwash that is, but research remains limited because of it. As such, we are still learning about the effects of weed.
We Still Know Very Little
Much evidence exists already to prove the many ways that cannabis can affect the mind and body, particularly among regular users and adolescents. However, because of federal restrictions on studying the plant, there have been few clinical studies done on the subject. Although this is changing rapidly, what we actually know, for certain, about the effects of long-term use is very, very little.
With legalization spreading quickly across the country and the world, scientists now have more freedom to study marijuana without restriction. The results of their discoveries are daily mind-blowing. It is quite astounding that, in a sea of decades-long misinformation, people now have access to real facts. Some benefits of using marijuana regularly are widely known already, others not so much:
1. Weed Fixes Social Issues
We all know that a good toke can kill the blues. We know it eases tension, eliminates unwarranted anxiety. We know it increases energy and focus. However, few know that weed fixes social issues, most notably social anxiety. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, although sufferers have a higher likelihood of using pot, they turn to it specifically because it helps them in social situations.
Anecdotally, people report feeling calmer around people after smoking a joint. Gatherings that previously caused immense stress become enjoyable, and users themselves become more extroverted. Often, those with social anxiety are unable to overcome their issues without the aid of something, be it harder drugs or alcohol. Marijuana, on the other hand, is a much safer alternative for them.
2. Weed Aids Weight Loss
Anyone who has ever puffed on a joint knows all about the munchies. We know well that pot causes insatiable cravings that empty refrigerators in record times. For this reason, it is almost impossible for people to comprehend that they can actually use cannabis to lose weight, as opposed to gaining it. Surely if ganja makes you eat so much, it will make you fat? No. It turns out that is not the case at all.
As the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains, marijuana has an enormous effect on metabolic rates. People who use cannabis on a regular basis have a significantly healthier Body Mass Index than those who do not. Additionally, weed stimulates insulin production, which can combat obesity and diabetes. Insulin balances metabolic rates, which means you can use it to burn calories faster and lose weight.
3. Weed Makes You Drink Less Booze
More and more people are ditching alcohol for pot. Although swapping one substance for another is not particularly wise, consuming marijuana is extremely good for human health and recommended by doctors for most illnesses these days. Few can see any harm in that. As pot makes you more aware of your body and conscious about how you treat it, almost nobody returns to booze after trying weed.
Not only does marijuana promise a better “buzz” than alcohol does, it does not make you do stupid and reckless things, such as having unprotected sex with strangers or jumping invincibly off cliffs. The U.S. National Library of Medicine conducted an extensive study on the impact of marijuana policies on alcohol use. It found booze sales declining very rapidly in states where ganja is legal.
4. Weed Makes You More Productive
Puffing a spliff can increase work performance. This may sound strange if you have ever been “couch-locked” or inexcusably lazy and unfocused after a toke, but this fact is very strain dependent. A potent Indica with a high concentration of cannabidiol, or CBD, could potentially tranquilize you, which will not help matters at work. A nice Sativa with the right terpenes, however, can do wonders for productivity.
Again, the U.S. National Library of Medicine tells us that, after intense study of the effects of weed on motivation, regular users remain highly motivated, if not more so than non-tokers. This is not always the case, though. Some strains are so unproductive that operating heavy machinery, any machinery for that matter, is not a good idea after smoking them. Choose the right strains for the tasks you have ahead.
5. Weed Makes Sex More Satisfying
Marijuana has a huge effect on sex life, for either the good or the bad. Once again, this depends on the strain you smoke, as well as how much you smoke of it. Some terpenes can increase overall awareness and sensitivity, and any quality strain will relax mind and muscles. If you combine the right strain with the right terpenes and add some romance into the mix, you are in for a long night of intense pleasure.
According to Science Direct, the effect of pot on arousal and sexual behavior, in both men and women, is highly dose-dependent. At the right dose of the right strain, cannabis can greatly improve feelings of intimacy, nerve sensitivity, and sexual satisfaction. It can also give you the energy to reach greater heights with your partner in the bedroom, and there are weed-infused lubricants to increase sensitivity further.
6. Weed Regulates Sleeping Patterns
We all know from experience that smoking pot can put you to sleep in no time at all. After all, that is why herb is so popular among insomniacs worldwide. What few realize, however, is that it also regulates sleep patterns for improved sleep over the long-term, provided you smoke it regularly enough. The cannabinoids in weed interact with your endocannabinoid system to identify and fix sleep imbalances.
As a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania discovered, cannabis rectifies the problems that cause irregular sleep patterns in the first place. It improves breathing, calms various nerve system processes, relaxes muscles, and eases all stages of sleep, even the Rapid Eye Movement phase. If your sleeping patterns are unbalanced, forget dangerous sedatives and tranquilizers. Smoke joints instead.
7. Weed Combats Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The effects of marijuana on PTSD are varied and many, and all of them good. There is just one hiccup to avoid if you suffer from trauma-related anxiety, and that is smoking too much THC. Overdosing on THC can exacerbate symptoms, but if you use pot wisely, as many veterans do these days, it can calm the mind and prevent the body going into paranoid overdrive.
The University of Washington did an extensive study on how weed affects PTSD. It found the endocannabinoid system playing a crucial role in how the body responds to stress, fear and anxiety. Preclinical studies on animals suggest that plant cannabinoids improve functioning of the endocannabinoid system. Sufferers can handle triggers better and respond more calmly to them.
8. Weed Treats ADHD
Every medical patient using cannabis to treat their illnesses knows their state’s particular list of qualifying conditions very well. However, few realize weed is an effective treatment for ADHD too. A study published last year by the University of Washington suggests that marijuana has immense pharmacological benefits in treating anxiety, hyperactivity, and focus-related issues.
Pot relaxes body and mind, preventing the constant busyness associated with ADHD, which consequently worsens the condition. It acts as a muscle relaxant, and the right strains can make it easier to concentrate on the task before you. Furthermore, it can help children get off the dangerous pharmaceuticals currently prescribed for this condition, which can have harmful and long-lasting effects.
These benefits are but the latest findings coming from the scientific teams researching the effects of pot. There are countless others, and every day, we are learning new ways in which the herb affects us. As research continues and rigorous study gets underway, the federal government will soon have no choice but to decriminalize the plant, as its medical value is obvious and abuse of it actually healthy.
John Levy conducts extensive research to write about cannabis for Pot Valet, a leading recreational marijuana delivery service in California. He dedicates his time to educating people about the benefits of cannabis and advocating for wider acceptance of legalization worldwide.