Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana Use
One of the hottest debates on record right now is the medical marijuana debate. It seems the ongoing arguments for and against this new medical craze is constant. With new evidence being found every day both for and against it seems this may never end. In 1970 Congress placed marijuana in the Schedule 1 of the controlled substance list, making it one of the most dangerous drugs available. Matter of fact cocaine is less regulated and punishable than marijuana. As of now though 29 of the 50 states and DC have legalized marijuana for at least medical purposes. Even though marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes since before ancient Egypt and it has been shown throughout history especially ancient history to be extremely effective for these purposes.
Let’s start off with the actual term “medical marijuana” this is the use of the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its extracts to treat illnesses as well as other conditions. These consist of glaucoma, epilepsy especially childhood epilepsy, cancer, Hiv, multiple sclerosis, addictions, anxiety, depression, asthma, nausea, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis C, migraines, chronic pain such as that associated with arthritis, and new ones added to the list every day. It is important to note that the FDA has not yet approved marijuana for medical use. The FDA is a federal governmental entity but even with that several states, as mentioned before have legalized its use on a state level. Some will argue because big pharma doesn’t want it because it will take from their profits, others will argue because there just hasn’t been enough research or large-scale clinical trials done to prove their helpfulness over their harmfulness.
There are two aspects of marijuana that are being studied for medical uses; these are the actual THC which is what provides the “high” associated with marijuana and the CBD which are the cannabinoids, which in the oil form known as cannabidiol do not produce that high. Some scientists are breeding marijuana plants strictly for this oil alone. This oil is what is used for the treatment of childhood epilepsy, and it does not have the addictive properties that the actual THC provides which also means it does not have the pain controlling properties or the other beneficial properties that the THC based products provide such as nausea control, or mental illness help. All marijuana plants have hundreds of these THC cannabinoids. There have been two-pill products approved by the FDA however, access to these two pills are very limited in the United States, by States that have not legalized marijuana use, medical or otherwise. They are, however, readily available in European countries.
It is well to note though, that the body does produce the CBD chemicals. It is just that some bodies do not produce enough. These compounds are responsible for memory, thinking, concentration, pleasure seeking regulation, some types of pain control, and to help heighten and regulate the senses, (taste, smell, hearing, vision, and touch). The lack of the correct amount of these natural chemicals are reasons many are in need of the replacement medical version, kind of like vitamins for deficiencies or hormones for the regulation of certain natural hormones.
The more recent trials being done on animals show how effective marijuana is for killing certain types of cancer cells, shrinking others dramatically, increasing the effectiveness of radiation treatment, these studies are showing great promise for the argument for medical marijuana use. There are also trials being done to show marijuana’s effectiveness in controlling the effects of HIV such as nausea, weight loss, and chronic pain. Trials are being done to show the effectiveness of marijuana in controlling the muscle spasms, and stiffness associated with multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. As mentioned before; it has been shown to be very effective in controlling seizures as well.
Trials that are being done in the effectiveness in the treatment of anxiety, depression, addiction, and chronic pain associated with arthritis and such are showing some favorable results but not as many. In some cases, regular marijuana use is showing the opposite effects in treating anxiety and depression. As for the regular use of arthritis and such, it is being argued that it doesn’t help with these but produces a “high” that just makes it more tolerable or just forgotten. Some state that the effectiveness that has been shown in pain relief in legalized states is due only to the fact that with marijuana being more readily available that opiates and other chronic pain medicines just aren’t being prescribed as much. It should be recognized however that with marijuana legalization that there has been a decrease in treatment admissions for opioid addiction as well as a reduction in the prescribing of these types of drugs.
The arguments against are pretty much the same as they always have been, that marijuana is a gateway drug, meaning that harder drug use follows regular marijuana use, the potential for abuse and addiction are very high. Smoking of any kind poses a threat to respiratory health, even though marijuana has been utilized in the treatment of asthma, a lack of motivation of any kind follows along with marijuana use, the inability to hold a job, impaired driving, etc. So as the debate rages on for the legalization or non-legalization of medical marijuana use, there are new finding every day, and the only truth is that in this case is that only time will tell and it may very well come down to which group has the most compelling argument.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency.