The research aims to proffer arguments on the controversial issue of legalization of medical marijuana mainly focusing on policies and regulations governing this issue in the United States. The discussion will place emphasis on individuals who are affected by the legalization of marijuana, the effects that marijuana banks have on the community, the importance of legalizing marijuana and the future of using the healing properties of marijuana in America.
Legalization of Medical Marijuana
The use of marijuana as a medical tool has been subject to debate with regards to the benefits and costs to the users and to society. Various researches have supported its use for medical purposes and interviews with patients have validated preferences to its use in contrast to the traditional medications. Contemporary statistics have revealed that there are currently 16 states plus Washington, DC that have enacted laws legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, of which California, has been listed among its roster since 1996 (ProCon, 2011).
The current research aims to proffer issues and concerns regarding the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. Specifically, the following questions are earmarked to be addressed: (1) Who is affected by the legalization of medical marijuana? (2) What effect does might Marijuana Banks have on the community? (3) What is its significance of having legalized marijuana? And (4) what is its future of medical marijuana in this country? By examining the legislation, interviewing persons who use medical marijuana and their family members, asking the opinions of residents who have these Marijuana Banks in their neighborhoods, using secondary authoritative research of the subject, as well as researching how the State and Federal governments view its use; the research would incorporate highlights of the findings and use these to propose appropriate recommendations to either support or refute its use.
Why Medical Marijuana Should Be Legal
The use of marijuana in the medical field dates several years back amid the plethora of disputes and opposition the practice has faced. Several countries including Germany, Spain, Canada, Israel, Portugal and Italy have legalized the use of marijuana in medical practice. However, in America the use of marijuana in the medical field has been legalized in some states where marijuana is distributed according to laid down frameworks stipulated by respective local governments. Marijuana is known to relieve nausea, and is used to suppress pain, stimulates appetite in chemotherapy patients, and to reduce intraocular eye pressure among others. In addition, medical marijuana can be used to cure asthma, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and epilepsy (AEugene, 2007).
The federal government, together with the FDA, strongly disputes the use of marijuana in the medical field. They argue that there is a high potential for its abuse, especially when patients are left unsupervised. They also argue that the administration of marijuana via smoking because of the health risks associated with the practice. However, this problem is solved through the introduction of other methods including vaporizers and edible marijuana products. The federal health and human services department, and UN campaign to legalize the use of marijuana in the medical field (AEugene, 2007).
Various researches have supported its use for medical purposes, and interviews with patients have confirmed the preference to its use in contrast to the traditional medications. For example, Richard Isralowitz (2002) says that “Cannabis… has long been used as a medicine in India, China, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South Africa and South America” (P. 131). This adds to the validity of marijuana’s medicinal values. In addition, Messerli views the use of marijuana in the medical field as a source of additional tax revenue as the use of alcohol and cigarettes collects large amounts of tax money. AEugene H. M. states that it also stimulates appetite of individuals with anorexia. On the other hand, ProCon adds that, “although the use of cannabis is not harmless, the current knowledge base does not support the assertion that it has any notable adverse public health impact in relation to mortality” (ProCon, 2011, par. VI). Equally, Taylor proves the existence of marijuana dispensaries in Denver which were established immediately after the citizens voted for the legalization of marijuana in the medical field by stating that “Medical marijuana “dispensaries” have sprung up overnight in Denver, especially on Broadway, Federal Boulevard and Colfax Avenue” (Taylor, 2009, p. 25).
As the above authors have stated, there is a need to legalize the use of marijuana in the medical field, and for conduction of scientific research. Apart from its therapeutic effects, the use of medicinal marijuana will play a part in the price reduction of pharmaceutical drugs, some of which are extremely expensive. Moreover, the government can use this as an opportunity to raise additional funds. Just like the use of cigarettes and alcohol is heavily taxed, the use of medicinal marijuana should also be taxed. However, to limit its misuse, it should be administered under strict supervision. On the other hand, to control the health risks associated with smoking marijuana, other methods of its administration including vaporization should be used.
In the wake, of proving my point of view, a research methodology to focus on a review of related literature regarding legalization of medical marijuana from authoritative secondary sources and through interviews of identified participants in the study, and from community members where marijuana is identified to be available was formulated.
Results of the Interview
An interview on a couple dealing with Multiple Sclerosis who are longtime friends of my family was conducted. The husband, Robert has suffered from this disease for the past 10 years and is a Medical Marijuana card holder. The purpose of the interview was to get their opinions on the use of medical marijuana, the effect, and their thoughts about medical marijuana dispensaries in their neighborhood.
My interview with the Cavonus' was essential to the research since it gave a first-hand experience on how they lived with this debilitating disease and the effects from the use of medical marijuana. This is a couple that was quite active and neither smoked nor consumed alcohol, but it appears they have changed a great deal since I last saw them because of the progression of the disease. From the interview, I was able to uncover some of the difficulties they had. It was becoming difficult for them to do some of the simplest things. Worse still was the toll it had taken on them both financially and physically.
From the interview, they shared with me the same sentiments regarding legalization of marijuana. For instance, Shirley, Robert’s wife, commented that, “marijuana helps with Robert’s tremors as well as stimulates his appetite” (S. Cavonus, personal interview, May 11, 2011). When asked about the effect of legalizing the use of medical marijuana to the community, her response indicated that the community also supported the need for legalizing the use of marijuana in the medicinal field. Shirley says, “There have been no complaints regarding the presence of marijuana dispensaries in our neighborhood” (S. Cavonus, personal interview, May 11, 2011).
The interview revealed that patients go through hard times while using conventional treatment methods. For instance, from Robert’s stand point the conventional treatment is comprised of a myriad of drugs which have uncomfortable side effects such as dizziness and feeling weak. In contrast to this, medicinal marijuana can be used to treat a series of diseases and thus effectively curb the occurrence of a number of symptoms. It also enables patients to relax, thereby aiding in faster recovery. When comparing the cost of the medicinal marijuana to the price of the prescribed drugs, it is markedly cheaper and thus affordable to most individuals. According to Shirley, she spends approximately 10 times more on prescribed drugs than she does on marijuana and it lasts longer than most prescribed medicines (S. Cavonus, personal interview, May 11, 2011). Therefore, from the relayed information it is a high time for the US government to legalize the use of marijuana in the medical field so long as laws are in place to avoid its misuse.
The current research was able to successfully achieve its objective of presenting issues and concerns regarding the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. Secondary sources of information support the contentions that the legalization of medical marijuana could prove to be beneficial to patients who are looking for alternative drugs to cure various ailments at tremendously lesser costs. To be affected, however, are pharmaceuticals whose traditional medications would be affected by the possibility of decrease in demand and could push their prices lower to make them marketable in the long run. Another stakeholder for the legalization is the government, who, despite earmarking tax revenues from their trade, should regulate its sale and apply appropriate taxes, just like the cases for alcohol and cigarettes.
The interview with the Cavonus spouses has supported its benefits and relief, not only in financial considerations, but also in terms of medicinal effects. The only crucial consideration is its effect to the community that espouses Marijuana Banks. Residents could express apprehension on its legalization given that it could be misused and abused. The young and immature individuals could irresponsibly veer into addiction and cause subsequent violence and misbehavior in the community. This could however be addressed with close monitoring with local government agencies that should assign task forces to regularly ply these stores and ensure that the sale is governed by legal laws and regulations. Any violations should immediately be sanctioned through stiff penalties that could mean closer of these stores and inability to apply elsewhere in the country.
The significance of having legalized marijuana was supported to be more advantages to patients, who need them most. Legalization and application to dispense through Marijuana Banks must be subject to stringent policies and procedures and subjected to frequent monitoring. Only verified prescriptions must be accommodated with direct contact to the prescribing physicians for validation and cross checking. The results of the interview have shown the medical benefits of marijuana compared with traditional medications. The relief, enabling ability for relaxation and enhancing the appetite, needed for recovery, are worth noting. The stress in financial resources caused by expensive medications make marijuana all the more a welcome respite.
Since 16 states plus Washington, DC have already supported and enacted its legalization, other states could follow using the same guidelines and regulations for implementation and monitoring. The move would actually prevent illegal trade which increases the price in the black market at the disadvantage of medical users.
The future and potentials for legalization of medical marijuana in all states in the US is optimistic given the positive feedback of the patients who use it. Like any other narcotic drugs, the sale and use of marijuana must be subject to the same strict rules and regulations to ensure that they do not fall in the wrong hands. Through future medical research and technological developments, more alternative applications for marijuana could be innovatively discovered to address the issues and concerns that opposing parties contend.
When one is face to face with patients who just want to seek relief through medical marijuana from a debilitating illness, the hope for recovery that emanates, would definitely lead one to support its immediate legalization.
Cavonus, S. (2011, May 11). Personal Interview.
AEugene H.M. (2007, September 14). The Legalizationof Marijuana. Retrieved from
Isralowitz, R. (2002). Drug use, policy, and management. Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press.
Messerli, J. (2011, May 5). Should Marijuana be Legalized under any Circumstances?
Retrieved from http://www.balancedpolitics.org/marijuana_legalization.htm
ProCon.(2011). “Deaths from Marijuana v. 17 FDA-Approved Drugs.” Retrieved from http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000145
Taylor, M. (2009).Medical Pot Outlets Growing like a Weed-for Now. Colorado Business Magazine, 4, 25.