Humans have used weed as a medicine throughout history, but scientific studies confirming its efficacy have been lacking due to prohibition. However, as more states legalize, researchers are gaining better access to cannabis and have already determined that it can treat a range of illnesses such as glaucoma and inflammation. The challenge is determining what compounds work to treat what, and what those compounds can do as a team.

Cannabis contains hundreds of compounds, and the chemical makeup is too complicated to neatly divide into indica and sativa strains. THC and CBD have a similar structure and bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system, but THC activates the receptor, while CBD does not, and instead prevents THC from producing a high.

Studies have shown that weed use disorder (CUD), a dependence on the drug, affects approximately 9% of users, and more research is needed to mitigate the risk and effectively treat those with the disorder.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that weed is effective for treating pain, and researchers are discovering potential harms associated with its use, such as CUD. As stigma around weed fades, more people are seeking treatment, which could contribute to the rise in prevalence of the disorder.

New technology allows growers to manipulate environmental factors to produce plants with different chemotypes, enabling them to create unique strains. However, the regulation of weed has hampered scientific research, and draconian measures have forced researchers to study weed users’ self-provided products.

In conclusion, while cannabis has shown promise in treating a range of illnesses, more research is needed to understand how its various compounds interact in the body, who is most at risk for CUD, and how to mitigate that risk. The science is also far from settled regarding the potential harms of weed, and new technology is enabling growers to create unique strains.

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