Wellness Science

Is Cannabis Bad for You? Research Says ‘No.’

Health and wellness start with treating your body like a temple. Everything that goes into your body, whether ingested, inhaled or even rubbed on your skin, ultimately defines how you look, feel and function.

Cannabis can help many of us find wellness.But, is it safe?

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey asked 900 American adults across the country, “If you had to choose just one, which of these four substances — alcohol, marijuana, sugar or tobacco — would you say is most harmful?”

Here’s how people responded to the question:
  • 41-percent chose tobacco
  • 24-percent chose alcohol
  • 21-percent chose sugar
  • Only 9-percent chose marijuana

The NBC News survey isn’t the only one to suggest American perceptions of cannabis are changing. CBS News Polls conducted a similar survey in April, comparing marijuana to most other drugs.

Here are the results of their poll:

  • 66-percent of Americans claim marijuana is less dangerous than most drugs
  • 51-percent of Americans say alcohol is more harmful to one’s health than marijuana
  • Only 6-percent of Americans claim marijuana is more harmful

American perceptions align with growing research on the safety and efficacy of cannabis. So, how does cannabis compare to the other potentially harmful substances Americans consume every day?

Here are the average number of deaths caused by each substance every year in the US:

Impressive, no doubt. Still, these numbers don’t tell the whole story. The consumption of tobacco, alcohol and sugar leads to a vast array of ailments and diseases. It’s hard to say how many cases of cancer or heart disease are linked to these three substances. For more than a decade, cancer and heart disease have been the two leading causes of death in the United States. Combined, they kill 46-percent of Americans every year.

Despite their link to an array of medical conditions, people still consume tobacco, alcohol and sugar. What’s so baffling is that tobacco and alcohol can be bought at the nearest gas station, sugar is added to many foods we eat. And, yet, cannabis is still considered an illicit drug with no medicinal value.

And this simply isn’t true.

How does cannabis work?

Our bodies are hardwired to work with cannabis through our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex system of molecules and receptors: CB1 and CB2. Endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by the body) and phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids found in plants) interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors to regulate many physiological processes including: appetite, blood pressure, inflammation, memory, mood, pain sensation, and sleep. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two of the most common phytocannabinoids found in cannabis.

Cannabis is the only plant that contains phytocannabinoids. So, when our ECS is out of balance, cannabis is the only thing that can help get it back on track.

But, isn’t cannabis addictive?

Research shows cannabis doesn’t have the same propensity of addiction to its users as tobacco, alcohol or sugar. There are no known overdose deaths from cannabis and, in some cases, it has been used to help reduce the use of opioids among patients suffering from chronic pain. A pilot study in New Mexico showed a reduction or complete cessation of opioid use in patients suffering from chronic pain who enrolled in the medical cannabis program.

American perceptions of cannabis are changing and scientists are just beginning to uncover how it can benefit our health and wellness.

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