The use of marijuana in medicine and its administration to patients has always been a major ethical dilemma for health care personnel not excluding nurses. On one side it has been seen as a narcotic substance that can harm an individual, however, on the other hand recent science has shown proof of its benefits to various patients suffering from certain conditions. It is important for nurses to always look at a patient’s best interests and evidence and recent research is proving marijuana as a beneficial medication option.
For the purpose of this paper, we shall discuss the ethical issues surrounding the legalization of marijuana and why it is evident that its administration be beneficial to many patients.
A case study in California has shown us that there are significant benefits to the use of marijuana on a patient with epilepsy (Maa and Figi, 2014).
Charlotte was a young patient suffering from epilepsy with major seizure issues, the age of five she was experiencing up to 50 generalized tonic-clonic seizures per day (Maa and Figi, 2014). Furthermore, her family was even told that the road was coming to an end and there was evidence of eight different administered medications failing (Maa and Figi, 2014). The patient’s mother running out of options sought advice on the use of medical marijuana, she had been given the green light for trying medical extracts and the results were incredible (Maa and Figi, 2014). The use of medicinal marijuana helped Charlotte have zero seizures for seven consecutive days and this was the first occurrence for the patient (Maa and Figi, 2014). Additionally, with continuous usage of medical marijuana it was evident that Charlotte had reduced her daily seizure issues due to epilepsy from having about 40-50 a day to about 2-3 for an entire month (Maa and Figi, 2014). Hence, it is evident that there was a major upside and benefit to the use of medical marijuana for this young epilepsy patient.
Ethical Framework Surrounding Medical Marijuana
In this particular case study it is clearly evident that marijuana had major positive outcomes for the patient, however, to administer it to the patient had some ethical issues. The patient was young and administering marijuana was looked down upon. However, we have to look at various principles of ethics in which one can determine if it is the right choice or not. This evidence shows us that medicinal marijuana extract is helpful for an epilepsy patient, hence one must ask, is it wrong to not provide medical marijuana to the patient knowing it will be beneficial? The answer is inevitably yes, it is indeed wrong as it goes against many ethical values including: client well-being, truthfulness, fairness, client choice and respect for life as we shall see (CNO, 2009, 4). This is because denying the option of medical marijuana for a patient with epilepsy for example is clearly affecting their well-being and not fairly providing all possible options of treatment.
However, Vasconcelos and colleagues explain to us that the stigma of marijuana use is a heavy issue surrounding the ethical autonomy of administering medical marijuana (Vasconcelos et al., 2017). As studied in class, the principle of “Autonomy” is crucial in ethics, where a patient has the right to make choices about their own lives and thus their own treatment. However, Vasconcelos and colleagues explain that due to a structural stigma attached to the use of medical cannabis, this in turn affects a patient’s self- ability to make the right choice (Vasconcelos et al., 2017). This is because if marijuana is seen by governing structures and social structures as a stigmatic drug, hence, inevitably a patient will be reluctant to take this option. Vasconcelos and colleagues therefore explain that it is crucial for more clear laws and proper explanations to avoid medical marijuana self-stigmas to promote better decision making (Vasconcelos et al., 2017).
This is where the Legalization of marijuana will effectively help eradicate this stigma. Fischer and colleagues explain that in 2001 Canadian Government was forced to legalize the therapeutic use of medical marijuana for severe ill patients (Fischer et al., 2015). However, this legislation still means that marijuana in general is illegal which would affect the stigma. Hence, in 2014, The Canadian government made reforms and ensured that health physicians would be able to authorize cannabis use for any health condition that the patient could benefit from its use (Fischer et al., 2015). Today, we see that the Canadian government will be legalizing it completely on July 2018. Hence, with these legislations to assist, it will eradicate the stigma of marijuana and this will help patient’s make better informed and more comfortable decisions in accepting marijuana as an alternative medication for some serious illnesses.
In conclusion, it is evident that although there are ethical dilemmas to the use of marijuana. However, the benefits of its use for certain illnesses are very clear and proven. Hence, it would be wrong for Nurses to not provide this alternative. It is important for a nurse to always look at the medical evidence and support before their own personal choices, hence, no stigma should prevent a Nurse from providing the right medical advice, and if medical marijuana will definitely benefit the patient. It would be unethical for a nurse to not provide this option to a patient. Furthermore, it is important governing structures and health officials to help eradicate stigma by developing legalization policy that will help patient’s feel more comfortable in choosing medical marijuana as an alternative.
Benedikt Fischer, Sharan Kuganesan and Robin Room, (2015). Medical Marijuana Programs: Implications for Cannabis Control Policy- Observations from Canada. International Journal of Drug Policy, 26 (1), 15-19 CNO, (2009).
Ethics Practice Standard. College of Nurses Ontario, 1 (1), 1-24 Edward Maa and Paige Figi, (2014). The case for medical marijuana in epilepsy. Journal of the International League against Epilepsy, 55(6), 783-786
Selene C. Vasconcelos, Antonia S., Maria. P..Iracema F. (2017, May). Bioethical analysis to the therapeutic use of Cannabis. Journal of Nursing Ethics, retrieved from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0969733017703699
Cite this essay
Legalization of Marijuana in Canada. (2019, Nov 18). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/legalization-of-marijuana-in-canada-essay