Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana Essay Example

  • Category: Health, Medicine,
  • Words: 1544 Pages: 6
  • Published: 22 August 2020
  • Copied: 106

When most people think of marijuana, they think of medical and recreational marijuana. Marijuana is a plant that belongs to the Cannabaceae family. To make weed, people make use of the leaves, buds, and stems to extract the cannabinoids. Marijuana is illegal in most places, but some places are changing that. Marijuana is a drug that has a lot of names, some of them being: cannabis, weed, pot, 420, grass, joint, dope, etc. 

This peculiar drug can have many side effects that either benefit or harm the body. In ancient times, marijuana was used in herbal medicine, just as it is used in some parts of the world today. The hemp and cannabis plants were used in medicine. Additionally, marijuana was also used as fiber in clothing or, occasionally, eating the seeds for food. The drug has some benefits and some downsides. The drug is also thought to give the user some or slight neurological damage, physical damage, and physiological damage. The drug can be highly addictive, but there are a plethora of reasons why marijuana can be good and bad for people. 

Medical Marijuana vs. Recreational Marijuana

There is a difference between medical and recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana requires using the whole plant to lessen specific symptoms and conditions such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, cancer, Alzheimer's, and mental disorders like schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Recreational marijuana requires the flowers of the female plants because THC is found there. 

Medical marijuana only works because of two cannabinoids, cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol, which are the most important chemicals in medical marijuana are similar to chemicals the body produces that involve movement, eating, pain, and thinking. Tetrahydrocannabinol is mostly involved in getting high and cannabidiol or CBD is the chemical that helps with health. Unlike THC, CBD does not attach itself to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. CBD enhances the binding actions of these receptors. CBD enhances serotonin, which is responsible for hormones that deal with metabolism, stress, and social behaviors. When enhanced, scientists have proven that marijuana can help with anxiety, chemotherapy, and schizophrenia. CBD can also enhance Vanilloid and Orphan receptors, which play a role in pain and the migration of cancer cells. How THC gets attached will be explained later. 

Researchers say that cannabinoids can reduce anxiety, relieve pain, control chemotherapy, kill cancer cells, and help people with AIDS and cancer. Tetrahydrocannabinol can be used in some medications to increase appetite, ease pain, treat PTSD, and relax muscles. Peripheral neuropathy is a type of pain that is helped by the painkillers of marijuana and not by normal over-the-counter painkillers. A special type of medical marijuana, Epidiolex, can help control and calm seizures in children, so it has gotten FDA approval. The FDA has also approved two man-made cannabinoids dronabinol and nabilone, to treat vomiting and nausea from chemotherapy. 

An Interview with a Marijuana User

To get medical marijuana, one needs a prescription from a doctor, but they can only get it if they have certain conditions, such as being in chemotherapy or having anxiety. I had an interview with someone who uses medical marijuana. His name is Erik Peterson, and he takes medical marijuana for his injury. In his own words - “I use medical marijuana for pain relief - I played football all the way through college and put my body through a lot of collisions. I also use it for stress relief, anxiety, inflammation, and insomnia. I feel genuinely happier when I use medical marijuana - it affects my mood in a positive way - makes me more compassionate and gracious.” (E. Peterson). He can get it in California because he fits the conditions and it is legal here. Erik takes medical marijuana in the form of pills, but people can take them in forms of vapor, chocolate, or even creams. How weed is taken can affect how much CBD gets into the system. 

Erik does not get high from this because he does not have any tetrahydrocannabinol in his prescription, so it makes him feel better instead of getting high. If he was a chemotherapy patient who had a loss of appetite, then there would be tetrahydrocannabinol in his prescription. From the interview I gathered that, without tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, marijuana is not addictive, so he does not need to constantly take it. There are really no major side effects to taking medical marijuana, except for a change in appetite or nausea. If anyone is taking medical marijuana, they should consult a doctor to see if there could be reactions with drugs that are prescribed to them.

Recreational Marijuana

Now let's take a look at recreational marijuana. Recreational marijuana serves a different purpose. Weed, to put it in slang, is taken purely for tetrahydrocannabinol, or the cannabinoid that gives one the “high”. There are different ways to take the drug into one’s system. Inside the body, there is an endocannabinoid system, which deals with memory, mood, and appetite. When THC or CBD gets into the body, it takes over the endocannabinoid system. Eating the “edible”, or weed baked in food, can weaken the effects of THC and lengthen the time the high lasts because once eaten, blood spreads it throughout the body. 

If smoked, it goes from the lungs to the brain. It is easier for the THC to enter from the lungs because there are alveoli, which have a high surface area so the THC can enter easily. Once entered tetrahydrocannabinol can go from the lungs or bloodstream into the brain. Once in the brain, THC acts as a neurotransmitter  and blocks some other neurotransmitters from going neuron to neuron. The brain has a lot of cannabinoid receptors in the Hippocampus, Basal Ganglia, and Cerebellum. These receptors, like the CB1 receptor, are activated by anandamide, a cannabinoid that the body makes. THC can mimic anandamide, and affects the Hippocampus, by causing short term memory loss, the Basal Ganglia, by affecting muscle movement, and Cerebellum by affecting body control.

THC can also affect the hypothalamus, amygdala, the cerebral cortex, ventral striatum, brain stem, and spinal cord. The hypothalamus is responsible for making sure the body is regulating its temperature and staying stable. Under the influence of pot, it can change how it regulates the body. When THC reaches the brain, the THC can get hooked or accepted by the amygdala, which is responsible for the emotions that go on in the body. This acceptance can then release dopamine, or the pleasure chemical, into the body which makes people feel good about getting high. Ventral Striatum controls the feeling of reward, so being under the influence of pot makes the body feel good.

The brain stem controls pain, so under the influence, the body feels no pain as the neurons are blocked to jump from neuron to neuron. Usually in small doses, the effects of THC in the body wear off after three to five hours. It can have psychological effects such as increased appetite and bad perception. The effects can wear off, but the chemicals stay in the body, from twenty hours to ten days depending on the half-life of the THC. Marijuana dependence starts when the body takes large amounts of dosages and then suddenly stops. Since THC is mimicking the cannabinoids that the body produces, the body stops or reduces the production of them, so if the body suddenly stops getting THC mimicked cannabinoids it will need more, which is an addiction. 

When taken, grass can give many symptoms such as weird senses, a different sense of time, bad memory, or if taken excessively hallucination and psychosis. A long term effect of weed can be brain development. When taken by a minor who would still be developing their brain, it can impair memory and even the development of the brain. Research shows a four IQ point loss over twenty years because of taking recreational marijuana. Marijuana can have physical and mental effects. If taken, people can have breathing problems, nausea, and vomiting. 

Mental consequences include temporary hallucinations and paranoia. Here is an interview from Jessica Anonymous, who did not want her real name used. “I take recreational marijuana just to get high. I take it in the form of joints, so I feel the effects faster. Some of the effects I feel are feeling slow, laughing at everything, having a headache, feeling angry and emotional, seeing everything in slow motion, fear, paranoia, and “retarded”. Usually, in the form of a joint, there is a four-hour effect. I take it because I like the feeling of the high and kinda how it affects my body.” If Jessica keeps this behavior up, she will most likely lose some IQ points, get addicted if she does too much, and have physical or mental damage in the future. 


In the end, marijuana can affect lives in many ways, whether it be good or bad. It can affect the brain and have long term damages or results on the body. If someone does not have a prescription, it is not recommended that they take it. If someone does it without a permit, then do it once and then stop, so the body does not stop making the cannabinoids it needs.

Works Cited

Editors, “Marijuana.”, A&E Television Networks, 31 May 2017,

Ghose, Tia. “Marijuana: Facts About Cannabis.” LiveScience, Purch, 18 May 2017,

Loria, Kevin. “23 Health Benefits of Marijuana.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 7 Mar. 2018,

More than half of U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana in some form. “Medical Marijuana FAQ.” WebMD, WebMD,

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana.” NIDA, June 2016,

Pyramid Healthcare. “Psychological and Physical Effects of Marijuana.” Pyramid Healthcare, 1 June 2017,

Sclar, Kindra, and Scott Thomas. “Street Names and Nicknames for Marijuana.”,

“What Is the Difference Between Medical & Recreational Cannabis?” American Cannabis Company, 30 Aug. 2018,

Yirka, Devin. “CBD In The Brain: The Neurological Effects Of CBD Oil.” Ministry of Hemp, 11 May 2019,

Erik Peterson. Personal Interview. 19 May 2019.

Gerbis, Nicholas. “How Marijuana Works.” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 2 July 2001,



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