Support for legalizing both recreational and medical marijuana has risen dramatically in recent years. Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Many people believe that marijuana will eventually be fully legal in the United States. So what are the health benefits of medical marijuana?

Benefit #1: Less pain

Marijuana acts as an analgesic, allowing it to be an effective treatment for chronic pain. Medical marijuana has even been touted by some as a safer long-term replacement for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. Medical marijuana has been thought to be effective at reducing symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and migraines, among other chronic pain conditions.

Benefit #2: Better sleep

It is estimated by the National Sleep Foundation that between 50 and 70 million American adults suffer from at least one sleep disorder. Insomnia is an especially common sleep disorder, with 30 to 40 percent of the population experiencing it at some point in their lives, and 10 to 15 percent of adults chronically suffering. Due to marijuana’s analgesic properties, medical marijuana can help improve symptoms of sleep disorders that are caused by chronic pain. Additionally, the relaxing effect of marijuana could help people dealing with high anxiety levels to feel less stressed and sleep better.

Benefit #3: Treatment for neurological and mental disorders

Marijuana has been known to be beneficial in treating certain neurological disorders. In 2018, the cannabidiol Epidiolex, made from CBD, was approved for helping control seizures associated with some severe forms of epilepsy. Additionally, some doctors have prescribed medical marijuana for a wide range of other neurological and mental health conditions including anxiety, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Tourette syndrome.

Benefit #4: Treating inflammation

The CBD in marijuana is believed to be an effective treatment for reducing inflammation. While more research into this topic is needed, many people claim that medical marijuana can help reduce inflammation in people suffering from autoimmune disorders by reducing the body’s immune response. Conditions thought to benefit from medical marijuana use include Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Risks and side effects

Due to marijuana’s ability to have a hallucinogenic, depressant-like, or stimulating effect on the central nervous system, it is important to use caution when using medical marijuana. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery after using marijuana of any kind. Other side effects of marijuana use can include bloodshot eyes, depression, dizziness, elevated heartrate, hallucinations, or low blood pressure. Consult a doctor before using medical marijuana to ensure that you are medically and legally approved to do so.