The Office of National Drug Control Policy noted that marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Nearly 17 million Americans age 12 and older reported that they had used the drug in the past month. Although there was a slight decline in the 1990’s of marijuana use in young people, more recent studies have shown that the trend has taken an opposite turn. In the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, past‐month marijuana use among 12‐ to 17‐year‐olds increased to 9 percent from 2008 (6.7%) to 2009 (7.3%).
These findings make it easier to understand why there is such a large population who is interested in legalizing marijuana. Despite the health concerns the drug can cause (i.e. lung irritation, poor motor performance, an increase in anxiety and depression, and a high risk of dependence), many are still in support of legalizing it.
These pro-marijuana advocates may have more gas to fuel their fire with the report of recent findings published in the Journal of American Medicine. According to the study, which included over 4,600 people, the drug may actually help people become thinner. When researchers looked at the effect of the drug on the human metabolic processes, they discovered a correlation between smaller waist circumference and the use of marijuana. This comes in addition to past findings that those who used the popular drug had a lower prevalence of diabetes and obesity.
Although this data may be limited in showing the correlation between marijuana and metabolism, studies do in fact; show a lower prevalence rate of obesity and diabetes in marijuana users compared to those who have never used the drug. Surprisingly, smaller waist lines may not be the only positive effect of this drug. The study also went on to explain that marijuana users also appeared to have overall better health compared to those who have never used the drug.
These findings may make it easier on those fighting to get the drug legalized. There have been countless physicians who prescribe marijuana to their patients already. The New England Journal of Medicine published their poll findings which concluded that three out of four doctors would prescribe medical marijuana to cancer patients who were experiencing pain. Some doctors feel that the drug may be able to provide chronic pain relief where many traditional pain medications fall short. This controversial drug of choice, lead some physicians to believe that medical marijuana can reduce a patient’s pain and improve their quality of life far better than other medications. Doctors are also now prescribing medical marijuana to those suffering from diseases or illness such as fibromyalgia, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and even post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It seems reasonable to assume that with the addition of each new positive finding, the support for marijuana will continue to rise and more people will partake in its effects. With this in mind, physicians should continue educating themselves on the drug and its effects on the disease process.