Many people believe marijuana will likely be fully legal within the United States within the next five to ten years, depending on who you ask. The popular substance has been used by humans recreationally for thousands of years, regardless of its legality as deemed by a governing entity. Its prohibition has been lifted in several states in the U.S., seeing about 20 percent of Americans now living in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

But, as with any legal substance within a country, it benefits the general public to have scientific research conducted to learn the various health effects that its use may cause. Unfortunately, because of the stigma surrounding the plant and its severe drug classification by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), research surrounding marijuana is difficult to pursue and even harder to fund--ultimately leading to people using the drug without truly knowing what to expect health wise.

Here are four big mysteries still surrounding marijuana today:

What’s actually in the plant?

If we shrunk ourselves down to atom-sized human beings and dove into a bud of the marijuana plant, we’d find at least 400 different chemical compounds that exist within it. 60 of these compounds are cannabinoids, meaning they interact with a specific part of the human brain, affecting everything from appetite to memory to mood to consciousness.

Not only do we not fully understand this part of the human brain just yet, we’ve yet to fully analyze all of the compounds present in marijuana, meaning we have some idea of how it affects us, but are far from solving the entire puzzle.

"We know a lot about THC and we're starting to learn about CBD. Out of about 400 [compounds] we know a decent amount about two,” says Ryan Vandrey who studies marijuana as an associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The long-term use effects of CBD vs. THC

To make things even more complicated, marijuana growers are churning out new strains of the plant every day, each one with a specific set of compounds and preferred uses.

Not to mention, its potency has gone way up since being legalized. Two decades ago, it would be considered “good weed” if the THC percentage was above 10 percent. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to find strains of marijuana that regularly produce anywhere from 15 to over 30 percent THC.

Each time a grower makes a small change to a strain, THC and CBD levels will shift accordingly. And with THC percentages projected to continue increasing, researchers are now faced with questions such as ‘what happens when THC concentration “goes up to 40, 50, 60 percent?”’

Some are worried due to research showing changes in the brains of heavy users.

Zero scientific studies regarding sativa vs. indica strains

Much of the what the marijuana community regards as common knowledge about the substance hasn’t been reaffirmed by any sort of scientific evidence.

For example, most marijuana enthusiasts know that there are two general categories that a strain of weed falls into: sativa or indica. Sativas are known for producing energetic highs, while indicas are known to give you heavy body highs that promote relaxation. Yet, there doesn’t exist a single study saying either of these claims are true. The community simply knows this to be the case simply through their own experiences.

In order to establish a fully legal market, a more complete understanding of the substance and its effects needs to be defined. When we look at the alcohol market, we’re flooded with information such as the differences between a bottle of wine, a bottle of hard liquor, a session beer with low ABV and high ABV beers like IPAs.

We have very little information regarding the different strains, concentrations and different effects marijuana has depending on the way you ingest it into your body.

The effects of recreational use

Long-term studies that look at the effects of long-term usage are hard to come by, meaning information regarding marijuana’s effects for people who smoke every day versus those who smoke once a day or even once a week is little to none.

However, there are researchers out there who are just starting to embark on this mission. One study is currently tracking a group of medical marijuana users over a period of time longer than a year to analyze any and all health changes. Particularly, they are hoping to find any changes to sleep patterns, cognitive functionality, and overall quality of life.

The study is also targeting a much older demographic than is typically seen--adults with an average age of around 48. This is to hopefully shed light on how marijuana changes the health of adults and people who have surely stopped growing in almost every aspect.

Recreationally speaking, there is a bit of information regarding heavy or chronic users. There have been links to depression, problems sleeping, decreased emotional control and decreased memory functioning. However, these changes are predominantly seen in users who have consumed the substance since before the ages of 16 or 17.

Where are we now?

While we currently have studies looking into some of the most important questions regarding marijuana consumption, our understanding of the plant is far from being complete. Some long-term studies will not be able to report their findings until they are finished collecting data at least 10 years from now.

Should marijuana become legal on a big-scale, as in nation-wide, we will undoubtedly start seeing more research being conducted on the substance and will be able to fully benefit from its medicinal properties, as well as put out the necessary information regarding its long-term and recreational effects.

For the moment, we just have to wait and see.

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New Study Reveals Medical Cannabis Users Consume Less Opioids, Antidepressants and Alcohol

A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reports that patients suffering from chronic medical conditions used less opioids, antidepressants, sleep medications, alcohol, and other substances after using medical cannabis to treat their symptoms.

“So what we found is that after starting medical marijuana that many of the patients that were previously using opioids reduced the use of those agents,” said Brian J. Piper, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience in the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine and lead researcher for the study.

“So over three-quarters of the medical marijuana patients who were using opioids decreased the use of those agents.”

The numbers make a pretty strong case in favor of medical cannabis. The final results from the study show a 76.7% drop in regular opioid use, a 37.6% drop in antidepressant use, and a 42% drop in alcohol use. They also discovered that almost 72% of patients took less anti-anxiety medications, 67% of them used less migraine medications, and 65% of them used sleep aids less after beginning a medical marijuana treatment regimen.

Chronic pain, however, is by and large the main reason people seek out medical grade marijuana in the first place.

“Over two-thirds (70.4%) of patients in Maine and Rhode Island listed intractable or chronic pain followed by post-traumatic stress disorder (25.5%), severe muscle spasms (12.2%), or nausea (10.6%) as their qualifying condition,” reads an excerpt from the study.

Additionally, subjects of the study reported that medical marijuana provided the most effective treatment for pain following incidents of trauma. On a scale from 0 to 100% (100 percent indicating “complete relief”), subjects were asked to rate the effectiveness of medical marijuana in treating the conditions listed below and this is what they found:

  • 77.9% relief in the treatment of pain following trauma
  • 77.5% relief in the treatment of menstrual pain
  • 73% relief in the treatment of neck and back pain
  • 72.3% relief in the treatment of neuropathic pain
  • 75.8% relief in the treatment of cancer pain
  • 72% relief in the treatment of post-surgery pain

At the moment, only eight states in the United States have legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Thankfully, 28 states across the country have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Yet, the substance is still classified by the government as a Schedule I drug, sitting next to heroin in its description of having "no medical value."

Do you think it makes sense that cannabis and heroin are in the same category of substances? Maybe it's time to reevaluate the potential medicinal benefits of cannabis and its effectiveness in treating some of the most common chronic conditions that exist among the population today.

h/t Saludmovil

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Coincidence Vs. Synchronicity - Signs You Should Do Your Best Not to Ignore

Sometimes things happen in life and our first reaction is to think “Wow, how lucky was that?” Seemingly small events that many of us consider merely coincidental are actually synchronicities at play.

For example, a few nights ago I thought to call a good friend of mine that I hadn’t spoken to in a while. Oddly enough, he was calling me at the sametime! We hadn’t seen each other for years, and yet, here we both were, trying to reach out for one another.

Synchronicity is a reflection of one’s interconnectedness with the rest of the world. People who are highly interconnected will experience these subtle moments where things just seem to perfectly align. This is because on the spiritual plane, everything is connected somehow.

So, next time something perfect happens to you--whether it’s a newly opened parking space or a random, incredible job offer--recognize that it is because of your interconnectedness, and not merely coincidence.

Signs of synchronicity that often get written off
Now that you’re aware of synchronicities, you’re going to start recognizing them more often. Here is a brief list of signs of synchronicity that you should pay attention to.

1. Looking at the clock only to see a pattern of numbers. For example, 11:11, 12:34, 12:12, 22:22. While any particular set of numbers will only last for 60 seconds at most, somehow you glanced up exactly when it was set on this brief period of time. This type of synchronicity is believed to be representative of purpose.

2. You’re whistling or humming a certain song and then the song suddenly comes on the radio or television.

3. You’ve been contemplating big decisions or questions in your life for a while, when you realize that the world is trying to give you hints about what choice you should ultimately make. The universe knows what is right for you, and it’s trying to communicate this through synchronicity.

4. You randomly meet certain people who somehow have the best advice or information regarding the problems you are currently trying to solve. You probably didn’t even have to mention exactly what is wrong, yet this person you just met seems to have the answers you are looking for.

5. A friend or loved one gifts you an item that you’ve been thinking about getting for yourself, even though you never spoke a word of it to anyone.

These are all signs of synchronicity, and synchronicity is a sign that you’re on the right track, so embrace it!

h/t Mystical rave

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What Is Your Biggest Fear in Life? According to Your Zodiac Sign

Turning to the stars to learn more about who you are and what life has in store for you is a ritual that has been done for centuries. The zodiac is chock-full of insight and wisdom, making it a good place to start when trying to find yourself.

Here’s what the zodiac has to say about your biggest fears in life, according to your sign!

Aries (March 21 - April 19)

Although fiery and somewhat fleeting at times, Aries absolutely cherish their close relationships. Your biggest fear is having these close relationships end. But, because you so fear that your relationships will end, you become much more thoughtful, caring and loving towards these people.

Taurus (April 20 - May 20)

As a sign that values stability very highly, the Taurus does not like the unknown. They feel most comfortable when it’s smooth sailing, and things go exactly as expected. Turbulence causes the Taurus to overthink, ultimately causing anxiety.

Gemini (May 21 - June 20)

Gemini have a strong inclination towards perfection. They want things to be done and done right. Failure is by far the biggest fear that Gemini have, so they make up for this with a solid work ethic and organized goals. Unfortunately, this can also lead to them feeling as though they never do enough.

Cancer (June 21 - July 22)

Cancers are sweethearts who want nothing more than to be included in life. They hate feeling vulnerable and their worst nightmare is being rejected by their friends, family and loved ones.

Leo (July 23 - August 22)

Always one for the spotlight, Leos enjoy receiving praise when they go above and beyond. And while they are good at exceeding expectations, their biggest fear is not being recognized for it. They work hard and do well, so it stings when no one pays attention to them.

Virgo (August 23 - September 22)

Virgos are known for their organizational skills and strong need for independence, which means their biggest fear is that they’ll one day become dependent on someone else. They never want to find themselves dating someone who is unorganized and unmotivated.

Libra (September 23 - October 22)

Libras tend to have strong empathic traits, meaning they enjoy caring for and nurturing others. Their biggest fear is that they will somehow hurt the people closest to them, even though this is highly unlikely.

Scorpio (October 23 - November 21)

Scorpios can be a mess of emotions at times, even though they like to portray the image that they are completely invincible. It is emotional pain that scares the Scorpio the most. Being betrayed is the probably the most painful thing a Scorpio can experience, which is why they often choose to build their emotional walls high.

Sagittarius (November 22 - December 21)

The free-spirited Sagittarius is deathly afraid of being tied down in any way. They need the freedom and space to be spontaneous, to make mistakes, and to live life the way they want to live it. Which is why they tend to find partners and jobs that are like-minded.

Capricorn (December 22 - January 20)

Capricorns have big dreams and put forth a determined effort to turn those dreams into reality. Their biggest fear is that all of their hard work and effort will be rejected, belittled or dismissed by their peers.

Aquarius (January 21 - February 18)

A natural protector, the Aquarius enjoys being strong, for themselves and others. They enjoy being the cool-headed, dependable, pillar of strength that others can lean on in times of need. This leads to their biggest fear being that they won’t be able to find their strength or courage when they need it most.

Pisces (February 19 - March 20)

Rejection and abandonment inspire the utmost fear in a Pisces. They cherish all of their relationships greatly, so even thinking about being shut out is enough to rattle them to the core. Though there’s not much that phases a Pisces, being cast out by friends and loved ones will do the trick.

h/t Urbo

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5 Theories That Will Completely Change How You See the World

“Reality is what you think it is.”

Have you ever thought about how much of reality is actually as you perceive it? As humans, we will only ever be able to see the world from a human perspective. And because of this, certain details of our reality will seem incredibly real, all the while being totally false.

Here are five theories posed by scientists and philosophers that shake the foundation of reality as we know it:

Presentism

Presentism is a theory regarding time. It states that both the future and the past simply do not exist, that they are imaginary in the minds of humans. The only truly “real” thing is the present that we are currently existing in now.

Similar in a way to quantum mechanics, this theory says that things do not exist until we need them to exist. For example, this article will no longer exist once you close out of it and stop reading it. It will only exist again once you seek it out and open it back up again.

And the future cannot exist simply because time cannot exist both before and after it’s happened.

Brain in a vat theory

The basis of this theory posits that there is no possible way for humans to confirm that anything actually exists outside of our own consciousness. Consciousness is the only thing we know to be true, thus it is possible that we are simply brains in a vat that are being controlled and manipulated by an outside force, such as aliens or other humans.

If you’re having trouble thinking about this concept, try to remember the movie “The Matrix.” In this movie, the main character’s entire life is a computer simulation controlled by an evil artificial intelligence. It is only when he is taken out of this simulation that he realizes what his reality truly is: his body is stored in a vat, plugged into a giant computer system.

Multiverse Theory

The multiverse theory has become popular in recent years as more and more people begin to speculate on just how big our universe is and whether or not there actually is only one universe out there. It states that there are an infinite number of universes similar to our own, each one having subtle or massive differences. For example, in this world I am a writer, but in another universe I am president of the United States. There are an infinite number of alternate realities, each one playing out somewhat differently than the next.

Great glaciation

The theory behind ‘great glaciation’ says that our universe will eventually run out of energy, resulting in the entire universe becoming frozen and desolate. Essentially, because there is a finite amount of energy in the universe, and heat loss is a natural law that acts in the universe, eventually particles will completely stop vibrating, slowing down so much that everything in the universe will simply stop moving.

Plato’s Logos

The great philosopher Plato once argued that everything humans perceive as reality is actually just an imitation of its true form. Mankind does not see the world as it truly is. There is, however, a world beyond our perception in which everything exists in “perfect” form. He says that our greatest chance at seeing these perfect forms lies within philosophy.

Plato was also one of the first people to explain that everything in the world is made of a single material, just that the material is rearranged to create different forms of matter. After scientists discovered the existence of atoms and molecules, Plato’s theory was proven true to some degree.

h/t SS

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