The medical marijuana debate is an interesting one because there’s such a wide diversity of opinions and views that oppose each other. The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug.
They consider these drugs to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” and to be some of the most dangerous drugs, because they’re highly addictive and may cause “severe psychological or physical dependence.”
Then on the other side of the fence many believe—especially those who use it medicinally—that despite its stigma, marijuana is not only not dangerous but has great value as a medicinal herb for treating various conditions. Some of these believe that marijuana is harmless and that you should have the right to consume the drug if you so desire.
With strong supporters on each side of the debate, the arguments for and against the legalization of marijuana are hot topics. What are the debated pros and cons of medical marijuana?
For every person who advocates for the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, there is another who argues against it. Some of the arguments from the opposition include:
- Frequent marijuana use can seriously affect your short-term memory
- Frequent use can impair your cognitive ability
- Smoking anything, whether it’s tobacco or marijuana, can seriously damage your lung tissue
- It may increase Anxiety. Depends on the quality of weed, the preposition of the consumer and social environment
- In some cases it can cause Schizophrenia (If the user is not used to it and the variety has a too high concentration of THC. CBD works against Schizophrenia and decrease it)
- Depression (It may cause it also because of the preposition of the user and a lot of other reasons. But as stated in pros it also can help for depression.)
- Psychosis (In very few cases, experts believe the cause of psychosis to take in conjunction with marijuana, but only as a trigger which already slumbered in the affected.
- Smoked marijuana contains cancer-causing compounds
- Increased appetite (That could be good or bad, depending on life situation or predisposition of the user)
- Marijuana carries a risk of abuse. In terms of addiction cannabis may be one of the least dangerous drugs. Not body addictive, but can cause mental dependency. Some would claim in comparison to alcohol, cigarette, heroin and other opiates, Marijuana is harmless. But heavy usage could cause mental addiction
- Marijuana is illegal under federal law. It is classified as Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), alongside heroin. This classification says that the substances have no currently accepted medicinal value
The legalization of marijuana for medical reasons is viewed favorably by many Americans, including members of the medical community and Congress. Some of the arguments for medical marijuana include:
- Marijuana is effective in relieving nausea and vomiting. Studies have shown that pharmaceutical cannabis can decrease nausea caused by chemotherapy used to treat cancer and almost completely eliminate vomiting.
- Marijuana can relieve the spasticity of the muscles that is sometimes associated with multiple sclerosis and paralysis.
- Marijuana can help treat appetite loss associated with conditions such as HIV/AIDS and certain types of cancers.
- Marijuana can relieve certain types of chronic pain, including neuropathic pain.
- Marijuana is safer than some other medications prescribed to treat the same symptoms. For example, it may be used instead of opioids for pain management. Opioids are highly addictive and are typically not recommended for long-term use in treating chronic pain.
- Studies show that smoking marijuana alone (without the concurrent use of tobacco) does not increase the risk of lung diseases.
- Cannabis does not need to be smoked to be medically beneficial. Products such as cannabidiol (CBD) oils, topical pain relief treatments, edibles, and other non-smoking applications are now available.
- As research continues, more of the individual compounds in cannabis are being found to be beneficial. When isolated—such as CBD has been—these may lead to further advancements in medical treatment options without the “high” produced by the compound commonly known as THC.
- Marijuana has been used for centuries as a natural medicinal agent to good effect.
- In many cases, patients consuming cannabinoids—smoked or ingested via pills—experience improved immune functions, and have even gained weight when they wouldn’t otherwise do so. For example, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments may feel better and be more inclined to eat solid foods as the THC in marijuana balances out their system.
- Those suffering from severe personality disorders such as ADHD, ADD, social anxiety and many others even claim to feel better after ingesting or smoking marijuana. This is especially interesting, considering the drug has been known to cause mental instability in others.
Some illnesses and disorders that may benefit from taking Cannabis
- Reduce or control epileptic seizures
- Can decrease symptoms from Dravet’s syndrome
- THC may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
- May prevent or settle down muscle spasms
- Alleviates symptoms from Hepatitis C treatments
- It may be used to treat inflammatory bowel diseases
- May be used to improve metabolism
- It can soothe Parkinson’s disease tremors
- Can be used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD
- Antibiotic-resistant infections
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Anxiety attacks
- Vascular and muscle relaxing
- Chronic pain
Scientific Evidence Remains Limited
In the past, clinical trials to evaluate the effectiveness of marijuana to treat certain conditions have been restrictive and limited. As medical marijuana becomes more prevalent throughout the world, researchers are doing more studies.
However, expert reviews of current research continue to advocate that more studies are needed. Many of the hurdles involve controlling the quality and dosing of cannabis with what is legally available to researchers. Additionally, a number of the current studies are not controlled clinical trials in which a placebo or alternative medicine is used. Without more of these comparative studies, scientific evidence on the therapeutic effects of cannabis will remain in question.
Until marijuana is downgraded from a Schedule I drug, widespread clinical trials are unlikely to happen in the United States.
If we really want a definitive answer as to whether marijuana is valuable for symptom management, it needs to be evaluated using the same standards as other medications.
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