As the legalization of marijuana spreads, so does the research behind its health benefits—and the evidence is piling up. From killing pain to calming anxiety to stopping the spread of cancer, cannabis’ potential for improving and saving lives is potent. Here are some of the many health benefits of marijuana, plus stories from real people about how cannabis saved them.
It may help stop the spread of cancer
Cannabidiol (CBD)—a chemical in cannabis that seems to impact the brain without a high—may actually help prevent cancer from spreading. According a study by researchers from California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, cannabidiol may stop cancer by turning off a gene called Id-1, which may make tumor growth less aggressive.
It may help decrease anxiety
Medical marijuana uses report that cannabis can help kill pain and reduce nausea—which is why it’s often used for people going through chemotherapy. According to Harvard researchers, this may be because marijuana may actually help calm anxiety, due to its sedative effect. This improvement in mood and stress levels could then contribute to feeling less pain.
It may help treat inflammatory bowel diseases
People who have inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease may benefit from marijuana use. Studies show that certain chemicals in marijuana, including THC and CBD, may interact with cells in the body that play a role in gut function and immune responses. Not only might these chemicals help relieve the pain of these inflammatory bowel diseases, but plant-derived cannabinoids in marijuana may also block certain processes that let inflammation-causing bacteria in.
It may slow the progression of Alzheimer's
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—which is the chemical in cannabis that gives you that “high” feeling—may be able to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. In a study published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, researchers found that THC may slow the formation of amyloid plaques—which kill brain cells and cause Alzheimer's.
3 Real People Who Were Healed by the Power of Cannabis
Camila Jenkins, San Francisco, CA
"Well, when I first started smoking weed it was [because of] boredom. Then, it was creativity. But for the first time in my life I needed weed medicinally after I got hit by a taxi. I got prescribed two different, very strong opiates. I think it was morphine and oxycontin? It was some strong shit! My whole face, my head...I was pretty fucked up. I looked like Harvey Dent, and I got a lot of plastic surgery to fix my face, and my face hurt. I took my prescriptions and I traded them for hash. My friends—with the benevolence of their hearts because they're such awesome stoners—gave me hella edibles and that's how I survived that pain. I used it for pain management for so long. It was crazy because you can't sleep when you're in that much pain, and it was like the only thing that will just put you to bed, just put you at ease. I would just be able to relax.
“I would take hella edibles and gummies. Weed, when you ingest it, goes through you whole system. Now I just smoke because I like it and it's awesome, but for a good two years I used it for pain management. And I'm glad that I did because those opiates that they prescribed me are pretty fucked up, man. I remember when I went and got my recommendation renewed the doctor actually spent a long time with me at the marijuana recommendation. He was like, 'They really prescribed prescribed you this shit?!' He was actually a plastic surgeon by trade and he was like 'Use this sunscreen, and use these edibles, this will help with your concussion.' I was able to gain my brain function much better than I would have if I used opiates because opiates would've affected my dopamine levels, would've fucked up my brain, and I got hit head on by the taxi, and I fucking ate shit. So, weed saves lives, and I think that it's awesome."
@jstangermaui, Maui, HI
Eddie Duckworth, Oakland, CA
"I'm a product vendor, and I go around to different clubs. Last year in June, at the end of June, I was set up by somebody that worked at a dispensary and basically got robbed and shot up close, in the leg, with a shotgun. I searched the Internet, and I can't find too many other people that have ever gotten shot up close in a limb and not lost that limb. So I'm grateful to still have my leg and I'm still in the industry. I'm not going to let the terrorists win, I still love cannabis and everything it does to help people. I'm still working, and cannabis has really helped me honestly get off all the opiates from that experience that I went through. Especially indicas like Sunset Sherbert, really great for getting off of those things. Just invaluable to me, like I can't say enough good things. And even for all the other things that people go through too, like cancer, and all the other crazy problems that people have.
“Cannabis can be really, really invaluable as a pain relief and alternative to the addictive and harmful opiates that are too often frequently prescribed by doctors who then neglect to help people get off of them. Which has created the opiate epidemic we have right now in the United States, with so many people being addicted to them. But cannabis doesn't make you have cramps, and feel like your skin is crawling, and all the other bad side effects that come with that crap. It doesn't make you need it after a couple hours and like, people rob people for that stuff. Well, anyway, people rob people to for cannabis too, unfortunately. *laughs* Unfortunately, I can speak a little bit too much about that. But, overall, it's a really happy plant which I've had the great experience of meeting a lot of good people from."