Your guide to how medical marijuana works

medical marijuanaCC: FutureFilmWorks at Pixabay

Did you know that more than 50% of U.S states have now legalized medical marijuana? For those who prefer to take a natural approach to their health, this is excellent news. If you routinely use it, though, you may find that you’re restricted to the state where your medical marijuana card was issued.

A recent press release from Mayor Muriel Bowser highlighted how medical marijuana cardholders from other states can now use the dispensaries in DC. If you’re fascinated by the world of medical marijuana, now’s the time to learn how it works.

Introducing, cannabinoid receptors

As a truly marvelous organ, your brain oversees everything else that happens in your body. It’s like a switchboard that responds to your external environment. Some of your brain’s neurons feature cannabinoid receptors. As you may have guessed, these receptors respond to the CBD found in medical marijuana. It’s probably worth noting that you can activate them in other ways, but marijuana is our primary focus here.

All of these cannabinoid receptors act as a part of your endocannabinoid (EC) system. Unlike most of the neurotransmitter-activated systems in your brain, the EC system works backward. When the post-synaptic neuron is stimulated, the EC system takes effect on the pre-synaptic neuron.

By now, you may be wondering why backward functioning is important? Well, your EC system shares pre-synaptic neurons with other neurotransmitter-driven systems. In theory, the backward effect mediates how the pre-synaptic neuron behaves overall. As a result, the EC system improves the way messages are sent, received, and processed in your brain. Ta-da!

Making your cells behave a little better

Now, I won’t claim that EC system stimulation with medical marijuana is a panacea for all conditions. However, its role within the brain does make it important for some complaints. Most notably, it treats certain dangerous forms of epilepsy, it eases anxiety, and it can reduce insomnia. There’s also a growing body of evidence supporting the idea that medical marijuana slows the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Because of the way society has viewed cannabis until recently, we’re lacking in in-depth studies that examine all its potential. However, it’s probably worth knowing that your EC system is a part of your immune system too. As such, when you see slightly left-field Facebook posts claiming that medical marijuana cures cancer, there may be a small grain of truth. But that still doesn’t mean you should ignore any evidence-based treatments. Not yet, anyway.

By giving medical marijuana cardholders from other states the chance to use dispensaries in DC, Mayor Bowser is making it safer for them to treat their ailments. With any luck, other states will follow suit.


About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.