The use of medical marijuana has been the subject of much debate between those in favor, those against, and even those who take a somewhat neutral position. Advocates of medical marijuana use cite numerous studies that clearly support the medical benefits of using marijuana for a wide variety of illnesses. Opponents cite an equal amount of studies showing the adverse affects of marijuana use for any purpose. A person with a more balanced point of view might reason that marijuana, like any drug, will affect different people differently. Therefore, the relative positive health benefits versus the harmful consequences of medical marijuana use should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Medical Marijuana Pros
Marijuana has been shown to provide relief for the pain and discomfort resulting from a wide range of medical illnesses and conditions. The illnesses include: cancer, glaucoma, arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, and epilepsy. Marijuana has also been proven effective in relieving neuropathic pain in HIV and other patients. Studies show that marijuana helps reduce nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The medical use of marijuana has also proven to be effective in treating depression, anorexia, motion sickness and migraine headaches.
Medical Marijuana Cons
Marijuana use is associated with a number of adverse health conditions. Smoking marijuana is associated with chronic and acute bronchitis. A marijuana cigarette contains more tar than a tobacco cigarette. Three or four marijuana cigarettes are equal to smoking more than 20 tobacco cigarettes. Smoking marijuana is also associated with increased cancer risks. Cognitive impairment such as short term memory loss, long term memory loss and impaired judgment and perception are other consequences of marijuana use.
It should be noted that many of the harmful health conditions resulting from smoking marijuana can be avoided by taking THC in a pill form. The pills currently on the market contain only THC, which is only one of many beneficial canabinoids in the natural marijuana plant. A patient may decide that the benefits of smoking the marijuana plant containing all of the therapeutic canibinoids, despite the health risks, outweigh the advantages of taking a safer pill that contains only THC.
Marijuana Legal Issues
Medical marijuana, although legal in 18 states, is still illegal under federal law. Under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug. A Schedule 1 drug is considered by the federal government to have a high potential for abuse and no current medical value. The U.S. Department of Justice has insisted that it reserves the right to enforce federal laws pertaining to marijuana, regardless of state laws to the contrary. The Justice Department has reportedly raided medical marijuana dispensaries in several states. Medical marijuana use will continue to be the subject of much debate in the future. More clinical research is needed to document more fully examine the pros and cons of medical marijuana use.
Medical Marijuana: ProCon.org