15 Unexpected and Practical Ways You Can Use Marijuana

Marijuana is held in a clenched fist near the Capitol in Washington D.C.

Marijuana isn’t just for smoking. | Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

For millions of Americans, marijuana is a recreational release. For millions more, it’s a potent and powerful medicine, helping alleviate the symptoms of dozens of health issues. And with pot legalization on the minds and agendas of many people, marijuana might become a daily staple, in some form or another, for tens of millions more in coming years.

But cannabis is much more than a tool for getting high. We’re still unraveling the complexities of the marijuana plant and finding new and ingenious ways to use it all the time. This is one of the reasons some people — even those who have traditionally opposed marijuana consumption on moral grounds — are starting to see the light. The green light, that is.

Besides the cannabis plant’s leaves and buds, the green denotes the enormous potential for profit. With marijuana legalization comes business opportunities. And by learning to exploit the numerous uses of the cannabis plant, money will be made, jobs will be created, and consumers will benefit.

So what are some of those lesser-known uses? We all know marijuana is used as a medicine, but it might still be a mystery as to how, exactly, it’s used. And what about outside of the world of health? Can marijuana do anything for your dog or cat? Or enhance your sex life? The answer is yes — and there are many other uses, too.

Let’s take a closer at 15 lesser-known uses for marijuana.

1. A weight-loss aid

Yes, you can seriously use cannabis to help you lose weight. Many people with eating disorders use marijuana to help regulate their appetite, and it can be also used to regulate your metabolism. This, of course, will need to work in concert with other measures — specifically, following a proper diet and getting enough exercise. But if you need help managing your appetite, cannabis can help.

2. An addiction fighter

heroin

Cannabis can help you kick addictions. | John Moore/Getty Images

In a somewhat ironic twist, scientists are finding cannabis is an effective tool for helping people kick their addictions. At one point, there was (and still is) concern about marijuana addiction. But now, cannabis is being used to help ween people off of other substances. Those include alcohol, opioids, and even hard drugs. But that’s not to say you can’t develop a problematic relationship with cannabis.

3. An alternative to painkillers, including opioids

Painkillers spilled from a bottle

Cannabis is a promising alternative to painkillers. | iStock.com/BCFC

Speaking of opioids, we all know just how widespread and damaging the opioid epidemic has been to numerous communities nationwide. People are hooked on painkillers, and many are dying as a result. But cannabis is a potential alternative. Though there’s still a lot of research to be done, medical marijuana appears to be a viable option for those suffering from chronic pain.

4. A cancer treatment

A breast cancer patient receives a chemotherapy drip

A breast cancer patient receives a chemotherapy drip. | Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Perhaps the most exciting and underhyped element of marijuana legalization is the drug’s potential uses against cancer. Research has shown cannabis can kill cancer cells, meaning it could become a new weapon in an oncologist’s arsenal. Again, there’s a lot more research to be done, but so far, the early results are promising. Cannabis can also make chemotherapy a more pleasant experience, too.

5. An antidepressant

depressed woman

Marijuana works to fight depression. | iStock.com/Rawpixel Ltd

Another popular use for medical marijuana is in fighting depression. With depression and mental illness becoming a bigger issue, this is incredibly important. Depression affects roughly 15 million American adults or around 7% of the population. And the good news is studies are being published that cannabinoids can help stabilize your mood and ease depression.

6. Anxiety treatment

An anxious man

The right strain can help fight anxiety. | iStock.com

Closely related to depression, anxiety and panic attacks are also among the things marijuana can help regulate. Though we traditionally think ingesting cannabis will make you paranoid, there are certain strains or types of marijuana that can help alleviate anxiety. If you plan on trying cannabis to deal with your anxiety issues, it’s important you find the right strain.

7. OCD and ADHD management

ADHD

The right composition can help manage your ADHD. | Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

How about other mental issues? When it comes to things, such as ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder, you can add them to the list. Marijuana and the right combination of cannabinoids can help manage these issues effectively, too. But just like with many of the other health issues we’ve covered, it all depends on getting the right chemical composition when choosing marijuana strains or products.

8. Pet therapy

A dog sleeping on lady's lap

In controlled circumstances, your pets might benefit from medical marijuana. | iStock.com/Banepx

Marijuana, on its own, can be poisonous to your pets. For that reason, you’ll want to keep any cannabis or related products away from them. But you can find products made specifically for animals, including dogs and cats. Many of these products basically act like medical cannabis. They’re designed to help older animals in chronic pain. You can find them in some pet stores or online.

9. Brain health

MRI Image for Brain

New research shows cannabis has positive effects on the brain. | iStock.com/Highwaystarz-Photography

Although traditional wisdom says smoking or using pot will kill your brain cells, there’s actually evidence that suggests cannabis can help protect your brain. We’re finding the right combination of cannabis can help stave off degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. There’s also research showing cannabis can help protect your brain receptors from harm.

10. Sexual health

Couple touching with heads

Cannabis might help with sexually transmitted diseases. | iStock.com/Sjale

We’re not simply talking about getting high and getting down and dirty. Researchers are finding cannabis might become a valuable tool in protecting people from diseases. Scientists are exploring whether marijuana can help cure herpes and even fight HIV. And if you are on the market for a Viagra replacement, pot might be able to help you with that issue, too — though that’s still disputed.

11. Skin repair

Woman cheek with liver spot

Products with cannabinoids might help with skin conditions. | iStock.com/Manuel Faba Ortega

Smoking is notoriously bad for your skin. For that reason, you’re not going to want to smoke marijuana and hope your acne or other skin problems magically disappear. So how can cannabis help your skin? Through the use of topicals containing cannabinoids. You can find these lotions or oils in medical marijuana dispensaries, meaning they’re still unavailable to many people.

12. Healing serious injuries

jogging injury

A man suffers a jogging injury. | iStock.com/m-gucci

As unbelievable as it sounds, cannabis can actually help you recover from very serious injuries. And we don’t just mean you can use it as a painkiller. Research has emerged that shows marijuana helps broken bones heal faster. It also can make your bones stronger and prevent future fractures. As it turns out, cannabidiol enhances collagen maturation, leading to healthier and stronger connective tissues.

13. Gut-health support

A woman experiencing digestive issues

A woman experiences digestive issues. | iStock.com/champja

Having trouble dealing with the aftermath of a trip to Golden Corral? Or maybe you have a more serious and chronic illness, such as Crohn’s disease? Pot can help. The key is in the anti-inflammatory properties that cannabis has. And because many patients are dealing with inflammation, it can help. There also doesn’t appear to be any serious side effects.

14. Sleep aid

A sleepy dog

It might go without saying, but marijuana can relax you. | iStock.com/fongleon356

This is as obvious as any item on our list. If you or someone you know has used marijuana and subsequently fallen asleep or experienced “couch lock,” then you know cannabis can be a powerful sleep aid. This is caused by the chemical composition of indica strains, mostly, which tend to have higher THC concentrations. If you plan on using pot as a sleep aid, make sure you know what strains you’re dosing with.

15. Food

A man holds hemp bread

A man holds hemp bread. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

Cannabis is edible. That’s not just as in “edibles” — such as brownies or cookies — but edible in that you can use hemp seeds to make a variety of foods. You wouldn’t want to eat a dried bud, of course, as that would probably just make you sick. But you can find a variety of food products derived from hemp at many stores. That includes breads, protein powders, and more.

More from Culture Cheat Sheet: