Marijuana is perhaps one of the most controversial herbs rendered illegal by United States laws. Several sectors in the society advocate for the legalization of marijuana. These arguments usually point out to the medical benefits that marijuana contains. The supposed medical benefits of marijuana have been scrutinized by several scientific researchers and some of these claims have been supported by studies. By looking objectively at these medical claims can help people be more aware of the facts and the actual benefits that marijuana offers if there are any.
Medical Benefits of Marijuana Medical marijuana, according to some studies can help relieve pain, nausea and muscle spasms. Although these illnesses may be simple symptoms of more serious diseases, they are being experienced by a number of patients that are suffering from hepatitis and cancer among others. In this regard, medical marijuana can be a cheaper alternative for the treatment of these medical conditions (Legal Reefer, 2004).
Another medical condition that marijuana can help treat is glaucoma, which impairs the vision because of intra-ocular pressure damage.
The reason behind this is that marijuana helps relieve the pressure felt in the eyes, thereby preventing glaucoma from worsening and leading to eventual blindness. Glaucoma, interestingly, is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. With the use of marijuana, therefore, this cause of blindness can be mitigated and more people can cherish their sight for a longer time in their lives. Glaucoma and the pain associated with it can be relieved with marijuana (Legal Reefer, 2004).
Other illnesses that marijuana helps treat includes tremors, unsteady gait, muscle pain, multiple sclerosis and spasms. Multiple sclerosis is one of the most debilitating neurological illnesses that afflict young adults in the US. With the help of marijuana, those who are suffering from epileptic seizures also find help. Arthritis, dysmenorrheal, depression and migraines also benefit from treatment with marijuana. The Legal Reefer (2004) reports that some courts and agencies of the US government have verified these findings.
Two compounds, Cannabidiol and Caryophyllene, are present in medical marijuana. These two compounds are responsible for the medical effects of marijuana. Cannabidiol helps relieve inflammation, nausea, inflammation and convulsion (Grlie, 1976). In addition, it also helps inhibit the growth of cancer. Caryophyllene, on the other hand, is responsible for reducing tissue inflammation. It usually comes in the form of oil and applied on the inflamed body part (Grlie, 1976).
Even if the issue of legalizing marijuana is contentious in the United States, medical practitioners are coming to a consensus that medical marijuana is needed helpful in relieving up to 250 medical conditions. This number is too huge to be ignored by the greater majority in the society. Legalizing Marijuana The literature in support of medical marijuana is robust and continues to grow. Medical marijuana has been shown to aid in the treatment of symptoms for AIDS and cancer. It can also serve as an immuno-modulator and analsgesic.
Furthermore, it can help treat asthma and other emotional and bipolar disorders (Lucido, 2008). The American College of Physicians (2008) have also come up with a position paper in support of research concerning medical marijuana and the exemption of medical marijuana from the prosecution of the law. In their paper, the organization cited the health benefits of marijuana in stimulating appetite, in treating glaucoma, neurological and movement disorders and its use as an analgesic. The position of the ACP gives credence to the claims that marijuana can really function as a good medicine.
The ACP, however, noted that there are adverse effects associated in marijuana. If smoked, marijuana can increase the heart rate of the user and help decrease the blood pressure. In addition to this, there are other psychoactive effects that are of a more serious nature. These may be manifested in short-term memory impairment, reduction of motor skills, attention and reaction times. There may also be some difficulties in organizing and processing information given to the one who used marijuana.
These effects are more severe for those who orally take medical marijuana. So this is certainly an adverse effect that should be carefully taken into account in the case that marijuana is approved as a medicine (Joy, Watson & Benson, 1999). Smoked marijuana also has important adverse effects similar to tobacco. If marijuana is smoked on a regular basis, it can help induce cancer, lung problems, pregnancy problems and even bacterial pneumonia. When taken orally, medical marijuana has less lethal toxicity than other psychoactive drugs being used in the world today.
Since medical marijuana will not be prescribed for smoking, then the dangers posed by the adverse effects will be mitigated and will be contained. In fact, these adverse effects are also within the acceptable range of effects present in other forms of medication. Marijuana: To Legalize or to Remain Illegal? With the support of the ACP for the continuation of research for the medical implications of marijuana. With such support, the impetus for legalization will be picked up by those who are advocating for the legalization of marijuana.
Another reason why people are pushing for the legalization of marijuana is the perceived economic benefits that it will bring to the government. Marijuana has often been compared with alcohol, which also have harmful contents but is being allowed to be marketed all over the country. If the government could legalize it, then it can derive huge revenues from the taxes and sales derived from marijuana. As it stands now, it is illegal. So the ones who benefit from the marijuana trade are the black market and organized criminals (Gerber & Sperling, 2004).
Marijuana is similar to alcohol and tobacco. The major difference is that marijuana offers therapeutic and medicinal effects while tobacco does not and alcohol only helps enhance health minimally. According to Herer and Cabarga (1998), those who are getting rich through the black market want it to remain illegal because if it becomes legal, the money will then have to be transferred to the hands of the government. Conclusion What is needed now is to strike the right balance between maximizing the medicinal effects while mitigating the negative effects of marijuana.
The answer to the question of legalization would be a controlled legalization. Marijuana could be used for medicinal purposes and alternative treatment. This means that it would have to be recommended by licensed physicians and that there should be a regulation in using it in the same way that certain narcotic pain killers are regulated in the market. Marijuana should not be offered as an over-the-counter medicine or offered like tobacco or alcohol as this would only make the negative effects of marijuana more prevalent in the society.
With government legislation and strict implementation of the law, the medicinal values of marijuana would be used by society while its negative effects would be avoided. Reference American College of Physicians (2008). Supporting Research into the Therapeutic Role of Marijuana. Philadelphia: American College of Physicians. Retrieved 25 September 2008 from http://www. acponline. org/advocacy/where_we_stand/other_issues/medmarijuana. pdf. Grlie, L (1976). “A comparative study on some chemical and biological characteristics of various samples of cannabis resin”.
Bulletin on Narcotics 14: 37–46. Herer, J. & Cabarga, L. (1998). The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy. New Jersey: Ah Ha Publishing. Joy, J. E. Watson SJ, Benson JA. (1999). Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC. Legal Reefer. (2004). Marijuana Offers Medicinal Benefits. Retrieved 17 June 2008 from http://www. legalreefer. com/article4. shtml Lucido, F. (2008). Therapeutic Effects. Retrieved 25 September 2008 from http://www. medboardwatch. com/wb/pages/therapeutic-effects. php