The issue of marijuana usage in medicine is very disputable. It has been being a subject of discussions among scientists, researchers, and even politicians for a long time. Some people think that marijuana should be used medicinally. They base their thoughts on the researches in the field of medicine, which showed that marijuana exhibits medical properties. However, another point of view is that marijuana does more harm to people’s health that is why it should not be used as medicine. These are two main thoughts concerning marijuana usage as medicine. Basing on these points of view, another discussion occurred; whether medical marijuana should be legalized. After having studied some articles concerning this question, and having analyzed different perspectives, I would like to express my point of view. Although the usage of marijuana for medical purposes has been disputed, it is pivotal that marijuana is legalized due to the overwhelming evidence that it exhibits medical properties.
Albeit, not all people agree that it is useful. Numerous scientists, for instance, Seamon, Fass, Maniscalco-Feichtl and Abu-Shraie (2007) confirm that it is harmful for people’s health: “Marijuana use is associated with a number of adverse effects that impair the cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous system” (1040). Researchers give many examples of harmful effects of cannabis on health. Certainly, as marijuana is considered being a drug; it does some harm to people’s health, primarily, to its physical condition. For example, marijuana usage is the reason for appearance of numerous heart diseases such as syncope, hypertension, tachycardia, hypotension, palpitation, ischemic attacks, and others. One of the harmful effects of marijuana is that it “contains 50-70% more carcinogenic ingredients than cigarette smoke that can lead to lung cancer” (Seamon et al. 1040). Among other harmful influences on people’s health are dizziness, flu-like symptoms, dry mouth, nausea, numbness, drowsiness, difficulty sleeping, and nightmares. Moreover, marijuana causes numerous problems with eyes, which are dry eyes, mydriasis, blurred vision, reddening of the conjunctiva, and photophobia. Except problems in physical health, marijuana has the negative impact on the psychological state of people. It worsens person’s ability to focus, recollect events, and form memories. Marijuana usage can also be a reason for depersonalization, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, depression, anxiety, and some others. Additionally, one of the most important reasons, why people do not want to make cannabis usage legal even in the sphere of medicine, is that it causes addiction. Moreover, it is believed that marijuana abuse can lead to abuse of heavier drugs.
Debate Concerning the Medical Marijuana Usage
However, as it was mentioned above, there exist two points of view on the issue of marijuana usage. The second opinion is that it can be useful if it is used as medicine. Numerous researches were carried out in order to prove this fact. Scientists, who devoted their works to studying the issue of medical cannabis usage, distinguish the following medical properties. It is confirmed that medical marijuana is used “to alleviate pain from cancer, to reduce nausea from chemotherapy, to mitigate the wasting syndrome of AIDS” (Ogborne, Smart and Adlaf 1685). It is also applied while treating epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, urge incontinence. People use medical marijuana for “analgesia, muscle relaxation, bronchodilator, and sleep induction” (Seamon et al. 1040). The researchers, such as Hoffman and Weber (2010), and Seamon et al. (2007), prove that medical marijuana is either useful while treating phantom limb pain, migraine headache, and gastrointestinal pain. Moreover, this substance relieves symptoms of asthma, improves sleep, and reduces anxiety. These are the examples, which show the power of marijuana as medicine. Nonetheless, one more aspect should be mentioned while speaking about the usefulness of medical marijuana. Pharmacists began to use cannabis for children’s treatment, especially when it is referred to children with seizures. CNN and CTV represent the examples of events, when parents ask for marijuana treatment for their children. CTVNews prepared material about a fifteen-year-old girl, whose parents hope that medical marijuana will help her because “none of the 14 medications that have been prescribed to Teigan over her lifetime have stopped the seizures” (CTWNews.ca Staff). Similar material was represented by CNN. The journalist Saundra Young told the story about the youngest patient with seizures, who was treated with medical cannabis. Little girl, who had been suffering seizures for 5 years since the age of 3 month, was cured by marijuana. Thus, different researches and life situations prove the fact that marijuana is useful and sometimes even life-saving for people.
Discussion Regarding Legalization of the Medical Marijuana
These two opposite points of view on the issue of marijuana use as medicine provoked another dispute. It is about legalization of medical marijuana. As well as the previous issue, medical cannabis legalization is also considered from two positions. Researchers such as Seamon et al. (2007) insist that medical marijuana should be legalized because it has medical properties, while others, like Joffe and Yancy (2004), are against its legalization since they are sure it makes harm to people. Nevertheless, in spite of numerous apprehensions concerning the effects of marijuana, its use is legalized in 14 of American states. Those are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington (Hoffmann and Weber 1454). However, the way to legalization of medical marijuana has a long history, and this process took a lot of time. This substance was used as medicine in America since the 40s of the 19th century. Certainly, as marijuana is a drug, its usage was limited to some extent. Taking into account the fact that cannabis was smoked in order to alleviate pain, its usage had to be restricted. The main reason for prohibition of the smoked marijuana was that it influenced health negatively, and scholars confirmed that “smoked marijuana damages the heart, lungs, reproductive and immune systems, that there is a strong link between smoking marijuana and throat cancer” (Conboy 604). Thus, “since the 1930s, every state has banned the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana for non-medical purposes” (Mikos 1427). In any case, the fact that marijuana possessed medical properties was inevitable. That is why medical marijuana was produced. For example, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was considered being pure medical marijuana “without the tars, combustibles, and hydrocarbons” (Conboy 604).
Nothing but medical properties of marijuana were taken into account while making a decision about its legalization. As it was mentioned above, 14 states of America legalized its usage. The essence of the laws concerning cannabis usage for medical purposes is the following. People, who need to use marijuana for treatment, can use it, and they are not considered to break the law. People, who take care of the sick, who need to use marijuana, can posses it, but do not use. Marijuana can be used as medicine if a person has “HIV-AIDS, cachexia, cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, severe nausea, severe and chronic pain, muscle spasms from multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease and other conditions” (Hoffmann and Weber 1454). However, patients can use this substance only if they have written prescription from their physician. The laws, which are aimed at legalization of marijuana, also suppose that, before giving a prescription of marijuana, a physician talks to a person, who needs it, and tells him/her about the danger and consequences, which can occur in the result of its usage. The laws in the most states allow cultivating marijuana. Nonetheless, some states limit the amount of this plant, which can be possessed by a person who needs it for treatment. Most of the states provide people who use marijuana as medicine with special identification cards, and these persons will not be arrested if the police find marijuana. Certainly, the laws differ somehow in each state, but these are the most common laws, which represent the essence of the legal marijuana usage for the medical purposes.
In spite of the fact that medical marijuana is already legalized in some states, people still express their apprehensions concerning this issue. One of the main things, which disturb citiens, is whether the legislation of medical marijuana will be properly accepted by people, and what influence it will have on the level of cannabis usage in general. Alain Joffe and Samuel Nancy (2004) represented two different points of view on the problem of impact of the legalized marijuana on adolescents. In accordance with the researchers, two main tendencies are noticed while studying this item. The first tendency is that legalized marijuana “had no effect on high school students’ beliefs and attitudes about marijuana or on their use of the drug” (Joffe and Nancy 634). The study of other scholars, which is represented in the article by Alain Joffe and Samuel Nancy, confirms that “youths living in decriminalized states are significantly more likely to report currently using marijuana and may consume more frequently” (Joffe and Nancy 633). Similar research was carried out by Shereen Khatapoush and Denise Hallfors (2004). The scientists examined whether legalization of marijuana in California changed attitudes to its usage. The results of the research showed that cannabis use “did not change significantly over time in California” (Khatapoush and Hallfors 759). Thus, the issue of marijuana use after its legalization is disputable, and as the researches demonstrate, the cases of such a phenomenon occurrence can be either increased or it can not change at all, it is evident that it worries people. The second thing concerning marijuana legalization, which is argued by US residents, is that this drug is supposed to provoke addiction not only to the substance itself, but also to heavier drugs. People, who are against marijuana legalization, are afraid that good intentions can turn into terrible consequences. On the one hand, this point of view can be understood. However, “studies show cannabis is not chemically addictive in the way heroin, nicotine, or caffeine is. This means the user’s body will not go into a physical withdrawal if regular cannabis use is stopped” (Morgan 50). What is more, it is believed that marijuana can cause psychological addiction. When individuals often use marijuana for medical purposes, they start to believe that it is the only way to feel physical and psychological relief. This is the case which worries a lot of people, especially pharmacists when it is referred to the legalization of medical marijuana.
Representation of the Personal Opinion
Although there are several aspects, which make people concern about the consequences of the medical marijuana legalization, I believe that it should be legalized. Certainly, some precaution measures should be taken in order not to let people overuse a possibility of marijuana usage. That is why I am sure that cannabis can be legalized without bringing the negative consequences if the laws are well thought-out. First of all, marijuana as medicine ought to be prescribed only to those people, who really need it. If the substance analyzed can be substituted by another medicine, it is not to be prescribed. One more thing, which can make the usage of medical marijuana safer, is the appliance of requirements to pharmacists and users of medical marijuana. For example, pharmacists are to consult patients about the possible negative affects of marijuana on the patient’s health before prescribing it. In their turn, patients should use medical marijuana only in order to relieve strong symptoms of their illnesses. Using cannabis for other aims ought to suppose criminal responsibility for both – pharmacists and patients. Furthermore, registration of every person who uses it for medical purposes can prevent the negative consequences of the medical marijuana legalization. This step will prevent ill people, who use medical marijuana, from problems with the law, and will make it easier to figure out individuals who use it illegally. Patients, who use medical marijuana, can also be obliged to see the doctor, and undergo medical tests once in the particular time. This factor will not only help to understand whether a person uses marijuana only for treatment, but it can assist to carry out some research, which will cover some other properties of medical marijuana.
It is evident that the issue of medical marijuana usage, as well as the problem of its legalization, is a disputable question, which people have not been managing to answer for a long time. Some persons believe that cannabis can do nothing but harm to users, while others want to use it as medicine which can solve different problems and help numerous patients. The examples of the existing laws concerning medical marijuana usage show that it is possible to make it legal and avoid infractions of laws. Of course, none should neglect the possible consequences of marijuana usage. It is evident that people can suffer drug side effect, but it is a common occurrence, which can take place after almost every drug abuse. Additionally, legalization of marijuana as medicine requires elaborating the laws, which will be aimed at suppress of any infraction of the law, and at normal social life. However, if this substance can help a lot of suffering people to improve their health, I suppose that persons should make efforts in order to legalize the medical marijuana and benefit those, who need it as medicine.