For decades, cannabis has been stigmatized as a dangerous drug that’s bad for your health. Years ago, different forms of propaganda were released regarding the supposed risks of cannabis. However, these so-called claims/risks weren’t supported with any credible scientific evidence or proof. What does have scientific evidence is cannabis’s variety of medicinal properties and benefits. As time goes on, more studies are revealing additional medical benefits of the cannabis plant. Currently, not only is cannabis used for medical reasons, but it also has the ability to strengthen national public health.
In the past, cannabis was viewed as a public health enemy, and in some areas, it’s still viewed this way. However, in recent years, epidemiological research has discovered that the plant contains numerous benefits, which can significantly help improve the lives of the general public. Based on the latest research that has been released thus far, there are seven ways in which the transformation of cannabis can benefit public health.
Cannabis Consumers Aren’t Major Binge-Drinkers
Over the past few decades, in the U.S., binge-drinking rates have increased. What is binge drinking exactly? In simplest terms, it’s when an individual consumes at least four glasses of alcohol within two hours. According to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, it was discovered that from 2005-2012, the rate of binge drinking increased by 8.9 percent. Binge drinking is risky, and it can cause increased violent behavior and even sexual assault, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
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What linkage does cannabis consumption have with binge drinking though? Recent research indicates that cannabis could combat the behaviors caused by binge drinking. One research report found that U.S. states that have adult-use cannabis laws in place noticed a reduction regarding binge drinking rates. Specifically, these states witnessed a binge drinking rate reduction of 9 percent below the national average. It’s believed that cannabis acts as both a social lubricant and alcohol substitute. Thus far, cannabis hasn’t been associated or linked to any debilitating chronic effects, which is very different than alcohol.
Substituting Alcohol for Cannabis Could Reduce Risks of Developing Dementia
According to a 2018 study conducted by the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, it was found that heavy alcohol consumption is one of the top risk factors for dementia, especially early-onset dementia. The study’s co-author, Jürgen Rehm mentioned that brain damage and dementia caused by alcohol are completely preventable.
In addition, cell line research and preliminary rodent research indicate that cannabis contains strong neuroprotective properties. These properties can work to reduce inflammation in the brain, which could possibly protect against brain cell death in those who neurological diseases. Fortunately, cannabis reform could act as a significant policy contender regarding the event of alcohol-induced brain damage.
It’s Impossible to Experience a Fatal Cannabis Overdose
Moreover, alcohol, cocaine, opioids, and other recreational drugs can lead to fatal overdoses. However, cannabis is one drug that can be used medically or recreationally, which doesn’t result in fatal overdoses. Throughout history and to this day, nobody has died from a cannabis overdose. In general, it’s impossible to experience a fatal overdose from cannabis consumption.
Furthermore, different cannabinoids actively impact cells throughout the body including the brain. The receptor sites that are responsible for cannabis’s psycho-active effects aren’t present in the body’s brainstem. This is important because the brainstem contains the gear that controls respiration. Although cannabis is often referred to as a ‘drug’ because of its psycho-active effects, it’s impossible for it to slow the body’s breathing down to the point of death.
U.S. States with Medical Cannabis Laws Experience Less Opioid Overdose Deaths
So far, cannabis legalization has had a significant impact on the opioid epidemic. In particular, a 2014 study revealed that accessibility to cannabis resulted in reduced opioid overdose deaths by 25 percent. Then, a follow-up study discovered that when individuals have easy access to cannabis through licensed dispensaries, overdose rates decreased even more.
Cannabis Users Aren’t as Likely to Develop Diabetes
In the past, epidemiological research published in 2011 discovered that cannabis usage was associated with reduced obesity rates. Then, in 2012, additional research revealed that cannabis users aren’t as likely to develop diabetes as compared to non-cannabis users. From here, it was discovered that cannabis consumers showed lower levels of fasting insulin in addition to improved glucose metabolism. Fortunately, cannabis can help diabetics while also working to reduce the number of annual deaths due to diabetes.
In U.S. States with Medically Legal Cannabis, Medicare Costs on Prescription Drugs Have Decreased
In recent years, more cannabis users are substituting their prescription drugs for cannabis. A 2016 study found that Medicare Part D prescriptions for anti-depressants and pain-killers declined not long after different U.S. states put medical cannabis laws into place.
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According to the same study, it was estimated that medical cannabis laws have saved taxpayers significant money—$165.2 million to be exact due to ditched pharma meds and cannabis usage instead.
Cannabis Users Experience Lower Domestic Violence Rates
One 2014 study focused on 634 couples during their first nine years of marriage and the impact cannabis consumption had on rates of intimate partner violence. It was found that couples who consumed cannabis together during year one of marriage weren’t as likely to experience violence during their first nine years of marriage. Although cannabis cannot stop domestic violence, it could act as an alternative to other harmful and violence-inducing substances.
Overall, it’s safe to say that cannabis reform is progressing, and there’s significant potential for the future. Stay tuned to see what impact cannabis reform has moving forward and how it can positively affect people’s lives and well-being even further.