Using marijuana or cannabis for medical purposes is not a modern discovery, because it has been recorded to be used in relieving pain and other illnesses in China, India, South America, and the Middle East (Boire & Feeney, 2006, p.13). Since 2737 B.C., the mystic Emperor Shen Neng of China was recommending marijuana tea to cure “gout, rheumatism, malaria and… poor memory” (Stack & Suddath, 2009). Marijuana found its way to the United States in the early 17th century, when settlers transported the plant to Jamestown, Virginia to produce hemp (Lu, 2012). The plant was increasingly known for its medicinal purposes, and it was recognized as such in the 1850 publication of the health reference volume United States Pharmacopeia (Lu, 2012). By the middle of the nineteenth century, marijuana became a widely accepted form of medicine (Boire & Feeney, 2006, p.13). The first few decades of the 1900s, however, became an era of fear against marijuana. Marijuana use was prohibited by federal law in 1937 through the Marijuana Tax Act. This law banned the nonmedical use of marijuana.
Marijuana prohibition came from conflicting public, governmental, and medical opinions on the use and safety of marijuana for medical purposes. On the one side, supporters of medical marijuana argued that it can stimulate appetite, ease nausea during chemotherapy treatment, and help treat long-term, chronic pain (Mack & Joy, 2001; Neubauer & Meinhold, 2010, p.108). They stressed that it can also have many other medicinal uses, such as suppressing inflammation and decreasing depression (Genetic Science Learning Center, 2012). They stress that patients have the right to use this medicine for their specific medical needs (Mack & Joy, 2001; Neubauer & Meinhold, 2010, p.108). On the other hand, opponents of medical marijuana are wary of its extension to recreational uses. They stressed that medical marijuana laws continue to be vague on the control and regulation of the production, delivery, and sale of medical marijuana (Genetic Science Learning Center, 2012). They cited numerous disadvantageous effects of heavy cannabis smoking on the mental, physical, and emotional health of users, especially the youth (Duarte, Escario, & Jose-Alberto Molina, 2011; Khatapoush & Hallfors, 2004; Shohov, 2003, pp.3-5; Skinner, Conlon, Gibbons, & McDonald, 2011). Despite these concerns, this research paper asserts that controlled use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is a right of every patient. Medical marijuana should be treated as a medicine, which patients can freely access according to their medical needs. In addition, most of these negative health and social effects are attributed to heavy users of cannabis, which is not the main goal of medical marijuana (Taylor, 1998). This paper explores the laws and history of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is the best thing to happen to modern medicine since penicillin, because it can help treat numerous illnesses and revolutionize the health system through easy access to an inexpensive drug.
II. Public Perception and the Origins of Opinion
A. Misconceptions about Medical Marijuana
Some of the most common misconceptions about medical marijuana are: it is highly addictive; it can act as a gateway to other illegal and more dangerous drugs, such as heroin; and it increases aggressive and promiscuous tendencies. By the 1930s, marijuana received negative feedback from the media, researchers, and the federal government. During the Great Depression, substantial unemployment increased public bitterness and fear of Mexican immigrants. These immigrants and the African American jazz musician community were known to use marijuana. The public and the government soon felt that marijuana was a national problem (Boire & Feeney, 2006, p.18). This started a rush of research which connected the use of marijuana with violence, crime and other socially abnormal behaviors, which the “racially inferior or underclass communities” were accused of being involved in (Boire & Feeney, 2006, p.18). The federal government claimed that marijuana is significantly addictive and have no real medicinal benefits. The media reported that cannabis users “go crazy and become violent; men would rape and kill under the influence, and women would become promiscuous” (Goode, 1989, p. 145, cited in Isralowitz, 2003, p.105). Publications during this time reinforced public paranoia against marijuana through titles like “Marijuana–Sex Crazy Drug Menace,” “Marijuana–The Weed of Madness,” and “Marijuana: Assassin of Youth” (Isralowitz, 2003, p.105). At present, these extreme effects no longer have popular or scientific support, even among anti-cannabis polemics (Mann, 1985 cited in Isralowitz, 2003, p.105). Paranoia continued, however, and by 1931, 29 states already banned cannabis use.
Marijuana became viewed as a dangerous substance during the 1930s. Public health was not the primary reason, if social analysis is applied. Banning cannabis has its social and political roots, particularly in discriminating minority groups. After the Mexican Revolution of 1910, numerous Mexicans immigrated to the U.S., and they introduced the recreational use of marijuana (Frontline, 2012). The drug became connected to these immigrants and African Americans, and the apprehension and prejudice about the Spanish-speaking immigrants and other colored citizens became linked with marijuana too (Frontline, 2012). Anti-drug campaigners cautioned the public against the impinging “Marijuana Menace,” and they claimed that heinous crimes were related to marijuana and the Mexicans who smoked it (Frontline, 2012). In 1930, the government created the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN). Harry J. Anslinger was the first Commissioner of the FBN and stayed in that position until 1962. Anslinger is known to be the brainchild of the national propaganda movement against the “evil weed” or “killer weed” (Thornton, 1991, p.65). It seemed that his efforts were successful, because Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 due to insistent public demand and lobbying of powerful industries.
The statute successfully criminalized marijuana and controlled the possession of the drug to individuals by requiring them to pay an excise tax. Since it was outlawed, numerous Mexicans and underclass citizens were captured and jailed. In essence, those who feared the minorities and wanted to control them gained from outlawing marijuana use. Critics of the marijuana prohibition laws also claimed that Anslinger chose the war against marijuana to increase the popularity and legitimacy of his agency (Thornton, 1991, p.65). Dickson (1968) contended that the FBN needed to enhance its relevance, especially during the budget cuts of the Great Depression (cited in Thornton, 1991, p.66). Without a strong agenda, the FBN might be terminated altogether.
From the 1940s onwards, the scientific community provided compelling evidence that marijuana is not addictive and does not produce deviant behaviors. In 1944, the La Guardia Report discovered that marijuana is less dangerous than other illegal substances (Frontline, 2012). The New York Academy of Medicine provided an extensively researched report that contrary to popular beliefs and earlier studies, the use of marijuana does not stimulate violence, psychosis or sex crimes, or contribute to addiction or other drug use (Frontline, 2012). Peer-reviewed British medical journal The Lancet also published reports that long-term use of cannabis did not have serious health effects.
Despite these researches, negative opinions persisted, primarily because of the efforts of the government, who is in turn, under the influence of people who were prejudiced against the minorities (Thornton, 1991, p.66). By the 1960s, there was widespread acceptance that marijuana use provided the counter effect of violence, which is passivity (Goode, 2009, p.200). Anslinger, however, continued to use earlier research to promote the idea that marijuana is an addictive drug with no medicinal value (Goode, 2009, p.200). He launched a long-standing propaganda against marijuana use until the 1960s, which was effective enough for the public to continue seeing it as an illegal drug. Several sources noted that the white people in politics and business, as well as white bigoted citizens, forced the public opinion toward a particular direction- the belief that marijuana should be seen as an illegal drug, because minority groups commonly used it. Alcohol was too expensive that time, and the working class minority found marijuana as a cheaper alternative for their relaxation needs (Goode, 2009, p.200; Thornton, 1991, p.66).
Because of the effects of the government propaganda against marijuana and some studies that showed its negative health impacts in the long run, many people continue to be reluctant in accepting medical marijuana's medicinal benefits. It is possible that people who are not directly in need of marijuana are merely resistant to changes. They are not prepared to change their views regarding marijuana in general, which affected their views on medical marijuana too. Anti-marijuana advocates might also be successful in perpetuating myths about marijuana, such as its addictive qualities and its acting as a gateway for other serious substance abuse problems (Thornton, 1991, p.66). Such myths depict marijuana as a highly dangerous drug that no self-respecting parent or citizen would want to be legalized, even for medicinal purposes, because of fear that their children and the youth might be addicted to it.
The American public, however, has changing perceptions of medical marijuana, especially in light of growing support from the medical community and patients who need it. Nielsen (2006) noted changes in public opinion, especially for the past decade. She used data from the General Social Surveys (1975 through 2006) to determine the effects of period and cohort effects on attitudes toward both governmental spending that tackle drug addiction and legalizing marijuana use. Findings showed that liberal attitudes approved the legalization of medicinal use of marijuana. She also noted that some people do not support medical marijuana, because federal law still classifies it as an illegal drug. The Gonzales v. Raich ruling did not help promote medical marijuana use. In this case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, the United States Congress may ban the production and use of home-grown cannabis even where states support its use for medicinal purposes. This court proceeding has been a great disadvantage for pro-medical marijuana parties and states.
B. The Laws That Govern Marijuana and Where They Come From
From the 1900s to the 1930s, the public, mostly the white elite and working class, feared the encroachment of Mexicans and lower-class minority groups on the jobs available to white workers and on American culture and politics (Goode, 2009, p.200; Thornton, 1991, p.66). Since then, the public increased pressure for the passing of drug prohibition laws. In 1932, the government passed the Uniform State Narcotic Act. By this time, Anslinger provided hard-line propaganda against marijuana use, by claiming that it leads to violence, insanity, and other deviant behaviors. Under his leadership, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics prodded state governments to recognize responsibility for control of the problem by adopting the Uniform State Narcotic Act. In 1937, the Congress ratified the Marijuana Tax Act. President Franklin Roosevelt signed this federal legislation that prohibited cannabis use, production and sales, as well as for industrial hemp. The lobbyists for this law were the railroad industry, who benefitted from outlawing hemp and marijuana. Hemp was already a popular industrial product, which threatened the sales of the forest industry. The forest industry was the main customer of the railroad tycoons, and so this industry supported the passing of the Marijuana Tax Act. Politicians needed popular support, however. They were accused of paying producers to film the movie, Reefer Madness. It showed high school students who smoked cannabis and turned to diabolical monsters that performed horrible activities.
C. What Effect Does Illegal Marijuana Have On The Drug Trade In America?
The actual figures of illegal marijuana revenues vary from $8 to $40 billion dollars every year. Fainaru and Booth (2009) reported that for Mexican drug cartels, “$8.6 billion out of $13.8 billion in 2006 came from U.S. marijuana sales, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.” Marijuana legalization would possibly produce tax revenue of about $2.4 billion per annum if marijuana were taxed like all other goods and $6.2 billion yearly if marijuana were taxed at rates similar to those on alcohol and tobacco (Miron, 2007 p.449).
Since 2012, medical marijuana legislation is either in place or will be implemented in 17 states and the District of Columbia (Lu, 2012). Because these laws were approved only on a state-by-state basis, these state policies are disconnected in governing medical marijuana (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). For example, Alaska only permits for the possession of one ounce and six plants, with no legal defense from arrest, while Oregon allows patients to possess up to 24 ounces and 15 plants, with state registration defending qualified patients from prosecution (Lu, 2012). Even if many of the states that have decriminalized medical marijuana have also given legal protections for its users, the preponderance of these laws has not produced “mechanisms for dispensing the drug or for regulating its quality and safety” (Lu, 2012). The actual definitions of what allows patients for medical marijuana differ greatly. In New Mexico, it only permits its use for a restricted set of conditions (cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord damage, and terminal illness), while California has an unrestrained list that includes common ailments such as migraines, severe or chronic pain, and of course “any other illness for which marijuana provides relief” (Lu, 2012).
Seventeen U.S. states and the District of Columbia have ratified laws that decriminalize the medical use of marijuana, describe eligibility for such use, and permit some means of access, such as through home cultivation, dispensaries, or both (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). These states are California, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Maine, Hawaii, Colorado, Nevada, Vermont, Montana, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Michigan, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Connecticut. Maryland has a law that eliminated the criminal sanctions for qualifying patients who are accused with possessing up to an ounce of marijuana, but it does not give any means of access. In each of the states, aside from Maryland, a doctor’s recommendation or certification is needed for a patient to meet the criteria (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). In all laws, apart from California’s, the physician must confirm that the patient has a severe medical condition or symptom that is listed in the law. The laws normally include protections for patients with cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). All except New
Jersey, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia include severe pain and severe nausea.
The laws also guard physicians who create the recommendations, and all but Maryland’s include selected caregivers who may help one or more patients (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). In all of the jurisdictions excluding Washington state and Maryland, the patient can send an application, a fee, and the physician’s certification in to a state or county department to be given an ID card (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). The cards usually have to be renewed each year, though some states agree for them to be renewed every two years (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011).
Majority of the laws spell out that they do not allow marijuana to be smoked in public or used in correctional facilities. The laws usually stipulate that employers do not have to permit on-site marijuana use or employees working while sick, and more than a few stipulate that they do not defend conduct that would be viewed as negligent (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). Aside from Maryland’s limited defense, they all identify that insurance is not necessary to pay for the costs of medical marijuana.
Fourteen of the states let patients to farm a modest amount of marijuana at their homes. In one of those states, Arizona, patient cultivation is only permissible if the patient lives at least 25 miles away from a dispensary (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). Nine states’ and D.C.’s laws permit for state regulated dispensing, though some of the laws are so recent that their dispensaries are not yet operational, and the dispensing program in Delaware is presently on hold. A report stressed that: “The states with state-registered dispensary laws are Arizona, Delaware, Colorado, Connecticut, New Mexico, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont” (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). Also, California has hundreds of dispensaries, which are mostly regulated at the local level, but statewide licensing or directives that manage them are not present.
These states defy federal guidelines because the medical community fights for their right to study it and to recommend it to patients. Patients also demand their rights to access medical marijuana for their medical needs. The public is also becoming more liberal when it comes to using and selling medical marijuana. Furthermore, proponents of medical marijuana assert its tax revenues effects and decrease in illegal marijuana revenues that feed drug cartels. In essence, these reasons suggest the mix of the greater good and the almighty dollar as compelling reasons for legalizing medical marijuana.
Six more states with pending legislation to legalize medical marijuana. They are Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Twelve other states, such as Alabama, Idaho, and others, have tried to decriminalize medical marijuana. Their bills failed because of varying reasons, including not meeting committee deadlines and citing the federal law that continues to criminalize marijuana. The prescription of marijuana for medical use stayed legal until 1970, when the federal government ratified the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act (at present called the Federal Controlled Substance Act). This law categorized controlled substances into five “schedules”, a framework constructed to offer a hierarchy of their potential for abuse, medical utility, and health consequences. Marijuana was classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning that it was now prohibited for physicians to stipulate the drug to their patients.
III. Introduction of Marijuana as a Medical Property
A The Research and Science
Irish doctor William O'Shaughnessy first made popular marijuana's medical use in England and America (Stack & Suddath, 2009). As a doctor with the British East India Company, he discovered that marijuana alleviated the pain of rheumatism and was useful against distress and nausea in conditions of rabies, cholera and tetanus (Stack & Suddath, 2009). During the 1960s, studies increasingly supported the use of cannabis for different medicinal purposes. They stressed, however, that the delivery method can have both risks and advantages (Mack & Joy, 2001, p.11; Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). After all, marijuana is like any other medicine whose side effects can vary across individuals. Some people remained skeptical, because of the influence of federal laws on marijuana use (Mack & Joy, 2001, p.11; Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). As a taboo, marijuana held a negative preconception that some people maintained, even in present times.
Advocates of medical marijuana assert that it provides numerous health benefits, which makes it the next best modern medicine after penicillin. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the “active chemical in cannabis” (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). The active compounds in marijuana are comparable to a class of molecules in human bodies called endocannabinoids (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). Both connect to receptors in the brain and all over the body called cannabinoid receptors (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). This system affects the immune system, defends nerve cells from premature death, and affects mood, memory, desire for food, sleep and movement (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011). The medical effects of cannabis have been proven through surveys, case studies, and clinical trials (Nielsen, 2010).
Some of marijuana’s medical uses, which state laws already provide, are for treating nausea among cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, helping AIDS patients with wasting syndrome to gain weight and to fight vomiting and depression, and for those suffering with glaucoma (Isralowitz, 2003, p.106). A long-established use of cannabis is as an anti-nausea and anti-vomiting drug (Gieringer & Rosenthal, 2008, p.40). Because of these benefits, medical marijuana is commonly prescribed for patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Randall’s study in 1989 showed that marijuana is an effective anti-nausea drug in six different state studies, where the states are New Mexico, New York, California, Tennessee, Georgia, and Michigan (Gieringer & Rosenthal, 2008, p.41).
Due to numerous health benefits of cannabis, several health and medical organizations already recommended its use:
AIDS Action Council, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Public Health Association, California Medical Association, California Society of Addiction Medicine, Lymphoma Foundation of America, National Association of People with AIDS, National Nurses Society on Addictions, and the New England Journal of Medicine. (Isralowitz, 2003, p.106).
In 1988, a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young, stressed that “in strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume” (Isralowitz, 2003, p.106). Moreover, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, from the commission of President Nixon in 1972, expressed that “marijuana’s relative potential for harm to most of the people who use the substance, and its actual impact on society, do not justify a social policy that seeks out and punishes those who use it” (Isralowitz, 2003, pp.106-107). These medical organizations asserted the importance of marijuana to treating symptoms that help increase the efficacy of existing treatments.
The most respected studies are those considered as following the gold standard, or the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. Their researchers come from respected institutions and are experts in their fields. In the journal article, “A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial of Cannabis Cigarettes in Neuropathic Pain,” Wilsey et al. (2008) conducted a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover study that assessed the analgesic efficacy of smoking cannabis for neuropathic pain. Their sampling included thirty-eight patients with central and peripheral neuropathic pain. They went through a standardized procedure for smoking high-dose (7%), low-dose (3.5%), or placebo cannabis. Findings showed that cannabis smokers proved an analgesic response to smoking cannabis. They stressed little psychoactive and some acute cognitive effects, chiefly with memory, at higher doses. Collin et al. (2010) also conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of Sativex, a cannabinoid oromucosal mouth spray. They used it for subjects with symptoms of spasticity (stiff muscles) because of multiple sclerosis. Findings showed that cannabis reduced spasticity after four weeks of treatment. These studies provided evidence that cannabis has diverse positive effects on different illnesses.
B. How Has Mm Changed the Landscape of Modern Medicine
Some of the drugs that medical marijuana can replace are: painkillers, tranquilizers, anti-depressant drugs, and alcohol. These drugs have different side effects, such as stomach and liver problems, pain, spasms, depression or suicidal thoughts, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. Some of these drugs have also known addictive effects, such as alcohol and addictive painkillers like hydrocodone.
Medical marijuana is not without its risks. One of the main disadvantages is that it might be used by profit pushers to expand its uses. This can result to legalization of recreational use of marijuana in the future. Furthermore, marijuana can also be harmful in high doses and when used for a long time, and that people with family background of psychiatric problems may develop psychiatric episodes. Martinotti et al. (2011) studied if cannabis use produced psychosis, or if psychosis attracted people to cannabis. They also examined the association between family history of psychosis and occurrence of subjective experiences. They studied a sample of 502 healthy university students. They assessed the presence and level of subjective experiences (SEs) and their connection to cannabis use. Researchers learned that using marijuana did not result to more numbers of SEs, whether it is smoked every day or prolonged within one year. They also discovered that these psychotic experiences are higher for users with a history of psychiatric problems in the family. In another study, Skinner et al. (2011) examined the link between cannabis use and non-clinical aspects of psychosis. They had 1,049 students who had completed self-report questionnaires. They learned that increased cannabis use was independently connected with stronger positive, negative and depressive psychotic symptoms. Cannabis smokers also reported more depressive symptoms than non-cannabis users. Skinner et al. (2011) also discovered that the earlier the students used cannabis; the more they felt positive psychotic symptoms. They hypothesized that this could be due to the consequence of the drug on some neurotransmitters, which affect the development of psychosis. They also stressed that cannabis can reinforce present brain problems, which are also linked to psychosis. These studies assert the risks of depression and psychosis for cannabis users with psychiatric problems or a history of such illnesses.
The introduction of medical marijuana can be related to penicillin. Penicillin is a widely used antibiotic with numerous positive effects on human health. It is considered as a miracle drug that can treat different kinds of infections. In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming learned that colonies of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus could be terminated by the mold Penicillium notatum. He proved that effect of an antibacterial agent in principle. This principle led the way to the production of medicines that could eradicate certain types of disease-causing bacteria inside the body. During this time though, Alexander Fleming's discovery had no pervasive effect yet on the public. Using penicillin became popular in the 1940s when Howard Florey and Ernst Chain separated the active ingredient and produced a powdery variety of the medicine. Medical marijuana is like the penicillin, because its widespread benefits have yet to be fully supported through scientific research and support of the government.
Medical marijuana is an important medicine, because it can potentially replace numerous medicines that have significant side effects. It can replace painkillers, tranquilizers, anti-depressant drugs, and alcohol. It can also help people with diverse pain and other diseases. Medical marijuana is particularly helpful for people with cancer, chronic pain, neurological disorders, and autoimmune diseases (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011; Taylor, 1998). It can potentially allow many patients to cheaply alleviate their medical conditions. The costs of healthcare will be reduced, with positive medicinal effects for those who use it according to the right dosage. In addition, the government will earn billions from tax revenues. Doctors and scientists can also perform additional research, which can determine many other potential benefits of marijuana. Some supporters of medical marijuana also believe that by turning it into a medicine, marijuana will lose its taboo status (Marijuana Policy Project, 2011; Taylor, 1998). People who use it because it is taboo might be discouraged from using it.
The negative ramifications of legalizing medical marijuana rely on poor control and monitoring of its use, which can lead to recreational use and abuse of cannabis. State and federal laws should be clear and reinforce each other in controlling the production, distribution, sale, and use of cannabis. In order to do this, they should support further studies, especially those that follow gold standards, so that they can determine the right dosage and means of delivery for different diseases. Furthermore, they should have specific mechanisms that will help doctors and pharmacies regulate the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
C. Interview with a MM User
The patient is Larry Gibbons. He is fifty-three years old and is undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer. Before he used cannabis, he used various kinds of anti-nausea and vomiting medicine. Some of them are Buscopan and Zofran. He said that these medicines helped him very little, sometimes not at all. He complained of side effects of pain, nausea, stomach cramps, and further vomiting. Larry said that he started smoking marijuana two months ago. He said that his doctor gave it to him to alleviate his nausea, pain, and vomiting. He said that cannabis gave him instant benefits of less pain, nausea, and vomiting. He also had better appetite and mood.
Larry listed numerous activities that he can do now after smoking marijuana. He can walk for thirty to forty minutes, whereas before, just two minutes of walking tired him. He also felt happier and less depressed, so he interacted more with his family and friends. His family stressed that he is more optimistic in life now and that he is more physically active. Larry has a better outlook in life and feels that he can beat his cancer. He admitted that before smoking cannabis, he felt extremely depressed. He thought of committing suicide already, because he could not stand the pain and the constant feeling of and actual vomiting.
Larry admitted that he had friends who used marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes. He has six friends who smoke weed for fun, although occasionally, such as a cigarette once a day, three to four times a week. He has three other friends who smoke cannabis because they also have chemotherapy treatments or suffer from chronic pain. They also reported better moods and overall emotional and physical health. Larry is fortunate that he lives in a state where medical marijuana use is allowed. His two friends smoke cannabis only when they visit him, because cannabis is prohibited where they live.
Medical marijuana is the next penicillin, because it can potentially replace numerous medicines that have significant side effects. It can replace painkillers, tranquilizers, anti-depressant drugs, and alcohol. Some of marijuana’s medical uses, which state laws already recognize, are for treating nausea among cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, helping AIDS patients with wasting syndrome to gain weight and to fight vomiting and depression, and for those suffering with glaucoma. The most respected studies, that support the benefits of medical marijuana, follow the gold standard, or the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. Their researchers come from respected institutions and are experts in their fields. These studies provided evidence that cannabis has diverse positive effects on different illnesses, including nausea, vomiting, and pain.
Medical marijuana is not without its risks. One of the main disadvantages is that it might be used by profit pushers to expand its uses. This can result to legalization of recreational use of marijuana in the future. Furthermore, marijuana can also be harmful in high doses and when used for a long time, and that people with family background of psychiatric problems may develop psychiatric episodes. Marijuana has received so much negative media and government coverage. It has become a taboo, which attracts teenagers and other socially deviant groups. Since it is a taboo, people use it to reject laws and the authority of the government. They also use it to undermine their parents’ advices against it. Young cannabis users may find themselves developing physical and emotional problems from prolonged abuse of cannabis.
Despite these ramifications on health and social conduct, these are evidently cases where cannabis is abused, and in no way have studies robustly shown that medical users became so dependent on cannabis that they become addicted to it. At most, these gold standards of research asserted that cannabis is not severely addictive and can have immediate effects on diverse symptoms and conditions. Detractors of medical marijuana should also consider an exceptionally important demand for it. Patients actually need it to alleviate their illnesses. As free people, they should have access to free medicine that works. If they can farm it, it is even better, because it will cut their healthcare expenses. Hence, medical marijuana is good for society, and it is the next miracle drug after penicillin due to its efficiency and effectiveness.
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