In the recent past, debate has raged over the issue of legalizing marijuana as ca medical substance. States have been debating whether to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. The debate has always been premised on the benefits and hazards of marijuana medicine. Debaters weigh the benefits against the hazards of medical marijuana. The recent rise in the countries that legalize marijuana has got many analysts in the United States of America intensify the call for its adoption. A number of states have legalized marijuana in the United States of America. Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana to be used for recreational purposes. This rise in the use of marijuana has made scientists to start researching its effect on the human body and mind, especially when it is used for medical purposes. It is important to note that the medical use of marijuana dates back to 2327 B.C. During this time, it was used by the Emperor of China for treating his rheumatism, malaria, poor memory and gout.
In the year 1937, there was high level of addiction to morphine in the United States. To control this use of morphine, the Marijuana Tax Act was developed with the intention of creating high taxes on the medicine. With this development, doctors started to stop its prescription for the patients. Currently, marijuana is categorized by the federal government of the United States as a Schedule 1 Drug (Hoffmann & Weber, 2010). It is held as a substance with no therapeutic value and very high potential of being abused. Being an illegal substance under the federal laws, it is quite impossible for scientists to examine its use as a medicine. Scientific research on its medicinal properties cannot be permitted.
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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recognizes marijuana as the most commonly consumed illicit drug substance in the entire United States (Hoffmann & Weber, 2010). It is important to note the fact that medical marijuana is actually available to those who have medical licenses in close to 26 states of the U.S. Medical marijuana usually comes in diverse forms. Some of its forms can just be smoked or vaporized then inhaled. Notably, medical marijuana is also present in the form of pills for easier medical use. There are even the marijuana edibles, which contain this substance and other foods infused in it in order to give it flavor. Some of the foods include cookies and brownies among others.
The recreational states like Colorado and Washington have popularized the use of marijuana extracts in the past few years. Its users usually smoke THC-rich resins, which are actually extracted from the marijuana plant (Grant, Atkinson, Gouaux & Wilsey, 2012). This practice is normally referred to as dabbing. These extracts usually come in three main forms, which include hash or honey oil, wax or budder and shatter. These forms of extracts contain large concentrations of THC. Using them has been known to cause frequent visits to the emergency room or other risks resulting from the consumption of butane in their preparation. As evident from the subjects who participated in the recent scientific research on this matter, it has been established that dabs are able to deliver more THC. The result of using this substance is higher addiction to it than even in the case of the flower marijuana.
Benefits of medical marijuana
It is important to note that the components of marijuana are about 60 and are collectively referred to as cannabinoids. These cannabinoids are a plant version of a chemical, which is naturally present in the human body and assists a human being in moderating pain. It must be noted that Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, is the main cannabinoid that is active in marijuana (Kondrad & Reid, 2013). When a human being consumes it, the CB1 receptor located in the brain is the target point that is affected. Other points that are also affected by the use of this THC present in marijuana include nervous system, liver, kidneys and lungs. Its main effect is reduction in pain feelings of the human body. This function is achieved through the avoidance of the body’s pain response once a person consumes it.
Furthermore, research studies have established that medical marijuana is able to reduce the neuropathic and nerve damage pain in people who have HIV. This substance is, thus, a viable HIV treatment even more than the opiates like morphine. However, when used in combination, the opiates and medical marijuana are highly synergistic and effective for the control of pain feelings within the human body. The two substances also bring appetite to people when used in combination.
Notably, marijuana has been used in the reduction of pain from the MS symptoms like spasms, burning and numbness. Other diseases ion which medical marijuana has proved to be effective include in the treatment of nausea, especially in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Other common health complications like glaucoma and schizophrenia are also treated by this medical marijuana. Scientists also have established that medical; marijuana can and should be used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because it positively affects cachexia, severe pain, nausea, seizures, and frequent muscle spasms.
Epilepsy is the other major disease that can be treated by medical marijuana. Medical marijuana seems to perfectly control seizures in the people who suffer from them. It has been reported that high cannabidiol THC treatments have all stopped frequent seizures in the children and their families who suffer from the intractable or refractory epilepsy. A girl who suffered from the Dravet syndrome is now healthy after using the medical marijuana for treatment of her condition. It is vital to note that Epiodolex, which is normally drawn from cannabidiol (CBD), has been produced for purposes of medical tests to establish its effectiveness as treatment for epilepsy. Scientists expect that Lennox-Gastuat syndrome and Dravet syndrome will be treatable through the use of CBD (Kondrad & Reid, 2013). Interestingly, CBD, does not have any side effects when it is used on the children. During the Epidiolex study, about 137 subjects aged between 2 and 26 years who had unresponsive epilepsy variations received a significant reduction in the number of seizures by 54% in a period of just 12 weeks. It must be noted that the decrease in seizures for epilepsy sufferers is very essential in bringing about normal life of the patient.
In the same study, patients who had the Dravet syndrome responded even more effectively after using the medical marijuana. They experienced up to 63% decrease in the number of seizures in a period of 3 months. The study reported that the combination of Clobazam and Epidiolex led to more effective results than when the latter was used alone.
The hazards of medical marijuana
The main reason for the current reluctance to permit the use of medical marijuana in treatment on the part of governments is its side effects. Major hazards from the use of medical marijuana have been reported making many people to be opposed to its legalization as a treatment for the various diseases like cancer and epilepsy (Watson, Benson & Joy, 2000). Firstly, when marijuana is smoked, the THC substance normally passes from the lungs into the bloodstream in a very rapid manner. It quickly gets to the human brain through the bloodstream. Moreover, after a very short time, this chemical substance reaches all the other parts of the human body through the same process. While in the human brain, the marijuana substance, THC, over-activates the cell receptors in the brain, which normally respond to it causing hallucination. The human senses are also affected creating false images in one’s brain (Bostwick, 2012). Other users do report difficulties in breathing. It, therefore, mainly damages the judgment within the human brain. The user does not judge things normally after smoking marijuana. It is commonly agreed that this situation of misjudgment is very dangerous for a human beings in terms of social wellbeing.
Continued use of marijuana in one’s life may cause impairment of their brain system permanently. The marijuana substance destroys receptors in the brain hence disturbing the normal functioning of the human body. People tend to lose their intelligence after using marijuana. Moreover, the memory of a human being is destroyed through consistent use of marijuana. They cannot remember things even in the short-term. There are many cases where individuals have become mad or crazy because of the use of marijuana. It is a substance that leads to many mental disorders to the users.
The other common hazard of using medical marijuana is the increased heart-beat rate. A person who uses marijuana experiences racing heartbeats for up to 3 hours after smoking it. Therefore, medical marijuana may cause heart diseases to the users. It has been confirmed that a lot of people die from heart diseases, which are caused by the use of marijuana.
The impact of using medical marijuana on the pregnant women is even worse than in any other case. Pregnant women are at a very high risk of losing their pregnancies through miscarriages caused by the use of marijuana. For the ones who manage to reach the full cycle of their pregnancy, they bear very unhealthy children. The health of such babies is quite weak and their life expectancy is really very short. Such infants are at a very high risk of brain as well behavioral problems. Marijuana used by the pregnant women is the cause of childhood delinquency. Therefore, although it may be deemed as a good and effective medicine, medical marijuana cannot be used by pregnant women.
Medical marijuana that is taken through smoking leads to the hazard of lung cancer. Smoking medical marijuana for a very long time causes lung cancer, which a dangerous killer disease. In fact, many scientists do not advice using medical marijuana through smoking. The smoke that enters the lungs is quite toxic and unhealthy to the human body.
The aforementioned hazards of marijuana result from the binding of THC to cannabinoid receptors in the processes of thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception portions of the brain (Borgelt, Franson, Nussbaum & Wang, 2013). It is true that the use of medical marijuana may interfere with the attention and balance of a person’s body. It must be noted that people who use medical marijuana are at a very high risk of getting pneumonia, respiratory problems, vomiting and diarrhea.
The psychiatric risk of using medical marijuana is higher than its benefit. Users of marijuana medicine may experience mood disorders. For instance, there is the bipolar disorder that increases manic episodes. It also causes rapid transition between manic and depressive feelings. The risk of psychosis development among the users of medical marijuana is very high.
It is vital to note that medical marijuana is addictive as usual. Users of this substance get addicted to it. They reach a stage where it becomes impossible to live normally without using marijuana. This addiction is very bad since it increases the chances of a person getting all the aforementioned side effects of this substance. Moreover, using marijuana always may be a highly taxing activity for many people who belong to the low income cadre. Marijuana is not a cheap substance. One may have to part with a lot of money in order to maintain its use once addicted to it. This condition may significantly eat into one’s personal financial budget.
Currently, there is a growing body of scientific research that seems to suggest that marijuana is a very effective medicine capable of curing diverse health complications. It is against the backdrop of these suggestions that some states in the United States of America have permitted its use. The number of states that have allowed the use of marijuana is about 26. However, it remains illegal at the national level. The federal government of the United States is yet to legalize the use of medical marijuana. It is important to note that the current body of scientific knowledge is not sufficient to warrant any decision on either approving the use of medical marijuana or rejecting it. Such a decision must be based on weighing the benefits and hazards of using medical marijuana. Currently, the established benefits and hazards of medical marijuana counter-balance each other hence leaving no clear reason to recommend either way.
The established medical benefits of marijuana are mainly therapeutic in nature. The existing literature simply gives marijuana a clean bill of health as a therapeutic medicine. Many have argued that it has the capability of reducing a person’s stress by making him or her to feel lively. The best way to go currently is simply to give chance to more advanced scientific studies on the matter so that a clear basis for accepting or rejecting medical marijuana can be established.
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Bostwick, J. M. (2012, February). Blurred boundaries: the therapeutics and politics of medical marijuana. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 87, No. 2, pp. 172-186). Elsevier.
Grant, I., Atkinson, J. H., Gouaux, B., & Wilsey, B. (2012). Medical marijuana: clearing away the smoke. The open neurology journal , 6 (1).
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