What are the effects of medical marijuana?

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jking22 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While a bit vague, the effects of medical marijuana on the body are the same as those of regular marijuana. These effects are caused by a chemical compound known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or more simply THC. THC belongs to a class of compounds known as cannabinoids. The human body can also naturally produce its own cannabinoids that are different, but chemically closely related, to THC. These cannabinoids act on specific receptors, known as cannabinoid receptors, located in the brain and throughout the body. Another cannabinoid, cannabidiol, also known as CBD,  is also found in marijuana and can activate cannabinoid receptors, without producing the same "high" feeling as THC.

Activation of these receptors leads to a number of effects in the body and mind. Short term effects of both regular and medical marijuana generally include, change in the persons mood, changes in the persons sense of time, often times making them feel as if time is passing more slowly, altered senses, and an increased appetite. Accompanying these effects are, in most users, feelings of happiness and relaxation.  

In the body, activation of these receptors, by cannabinoids found in marijuana, can be used to help in a number of treatments for various diseases. One such thing these compounds can do is increase appetite, and also decrease nausea, in patients undergoing radiation chemotherapy. This helps the patient to ease their suffering, and allows them to be able to eat more successfully while undergoing treatment. Studies in mice have also shown that activation of cannabinoid receptors may be able to help slow the progression of cancer tumor cells, and possibly increase the ability of chemotherapy to kill cancer cells, although further studies need to be conducted to evaluate this claim. Activation of cannabinoids can also lead to a state of relaxation. Because of this, medical marijuana can also be used as a treatment for disorders that involve controlling such things as inflammation and pain in the body. Hope this helps!