Medicinal Marijuana A Medical Breakthrough
“Scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic value of cannabinoid drugs, primarily THC, for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation. … Except for the harms associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range tolerated for other medications” (Stroup).
It’s been an old controversy about the use of medical marijuana. Generally people argue against its use because of its portrayal in media and stereotypes. Others defend its medical properties mainly due to personal experiences. Both opinions have positive and negative sides and have thorough stated arguments with extremely informative backing, but which seems to be the best for society itself? There are too many questions that have been going on unanswered: Does it really benefit someone with qualifying health complications? What are the major hazards in its use? Is it really better then other prescription medications? Much research and studies have been conducted regarding its medicinal uses, but it seems that the reasons for keeping it from being legal are actually outnumbered by its benefits. Research provides marijuana containing potential health benefits as well as medical treating attributes, yet it is foreshadowed by abuse and its typically biased assumptions.
“Written references to the of use marijuana as a medicine date back nearly 5,000 years. Western medicine embraced marijuana’s medical properties in the mid-1800s, and by the beginning of the 20th century, physicians had published more than 100 papers in the Western medical literature recommending its use for a variety of disorders” (Medical Use). Marijuana has such a distinguished history relating to medical use, that there were times where it wasn’t perceived as a harmful and useless drug. “Cannabis remained in the United States pharmacopoeia until 1941, removed only after Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act which severely hampered physicians from prescribing it” (Medical Use). The number one characteristic of marijuana is its side effects. It may be its most notable trait but it also is the most controversial.
Marijuana leaves are known for having tetrohydrocannibinol or THC, which is embedded within marijuana leaves. THC induces a euphoric effect when ingested giving a care-free feeling as well as relaxation. The brief feeling of euphoria can cause neurotic delusions and can impair one’s judgment leading them to function sub-consciously. That euphoric side effect THC provides or what’s usually known as, “the high”. Marijuana is also known to effect short term memory but seemingly, “the high” may be the reasoning for its prohibition. (Abrams)
The state of euphoria a person receives upon ingestion of THC can possibly be useful. When consumed, marijuana dilates the body’s blood vessels causing the body to feel more relaxed. Also, the euphoric feeling send false signals to brain receptors making it seem as if it’s intensifying a person’s sense of touch and taste. With the euphoria and increased sense of taste, people usually have a mental uproar in appetite and under go what is called, “the munchies”. When that occurs, a person tends to eat more then what they normally consume. Hence the reason why marijuana is used to stimulate eating habits for bulimic patients or those who’ve endured extensive chemotherapy. Besides providing a stimulation of appetite, THC offers many medical benefits for patients around the world. “Many people know that marijuana is now being used illegally for the nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy. Some know that it lowers intraocular pressure in glaucoma. Patients have found it useful as an anticonvulsant, as a muscle relaxant in spastic disorders, and as an appetite stimulant in the wasting syndrome of human immunodeficiency virus infection. It is also being used to relieve phantom limb pain, menstrual cramps, and other types of chronic pain, including migraines” (Grinspoon MD).
Similar to Advil or Tylenol, THC was used as a cure pertaining to issues relating to nausea or pain relief. Marijuana was used universally as a remedy and cure for many different health complications. In correlation to a more harmful substance which is commonly abused, alcohol, preferably whiskey or gin, was used as a mouth rinse to treat canker sores or other oral infections. Besides alcohol, there are numerous cough, cold, or fever remedies that have been inscribed in the imaginary home medicine book written by your grandmother, but doctors have yet to scientifically state that chicken soup is the answer for the flu. The list of “classical remedies” using natural substances is nearly endless. Mexican tradition says chili peppers are the cure for hangovers, and American culture states that drinking apple vinegar is ideal for acid reflux treatment. Marijuana is just like an all natural herbal supplement that can be used for medical treatments just as well as ginseng or green tea leaves expect marijuana can provide a doctor’s approval. “Currently, more than 60 U.S. and international health organizations including, the American Public Health Association, Health Canada, and the Federation of American Scientists, support granting patients immediate legal access to medicinal marijuana under a physician’s supervision”(Medical Use).
Over-the-counter drugs such as, Advil or Tylenol, have other side effects including the possibility of overdose and fatality. “An exhaustive search of the literature finds no credible reports of deaths induced by marijuana. The US Drug Abuse Warning Network records instances of drug mentions in medical examiners’ reports, and though marijuana is mentioned, it is usually in combination with alcohol or other drugs. Marijuana alone has not been shown to cause an overdose death” (Annual Causes of Death in the United States). One of the major benefits of marijuana usage for medicinal purposes is that is safe to consume minus the health hazards of smoking. Also, studies show mental dependency and addiction can occur from marijuana but as well as daily use of certain medications people commonly take. Pain killers, allergy medication, and sleeping pills are all proven to be more addictive then marijuana. “[…] marijuana is less addictive than caffeine” (Marijuana Myths).
Besides smoking it, there are different ways to consume marijuana. Baking or even steeping leaves and making tea can utilize THC without potential health hazards. New methods on consumptions are being formatted everyday through scientific discoveries. Vaporization has been one of the latest finds in smoking marijuana with a less hazardous approach. It is a process in which the marijuana is heated to the point where only THC is burned leaving the rest of the plant’s leaf intact. Rather then normally smoking it and getting all the other chemical compounds which embed the leaves, you only intake what is vital. “Vaporization of cannabis is a safe and effective mode of delivery of THC” (Abrams). Medical advancements have also made concentrated THC into pill form completely eliminating the health hazards of smoking.
All medications naturally have side effects and certain complications along with their actual health care purpose. Marijuana’s euphoric feeling is quite similar to the drowsiness felt upon ingestion of diphenhydramine which is used as an antihistamine found in the everyday Benadryl. On all prescription medications that may distort your mental ability, there is always a warning on the label usually reading, “This drug may impair the ability to drive or operate heavy machinery. Please use care until you become familiar with its effects.” If marijuana were a universal medicinal substance, patients would be able to understand everything from side effects to its uses. No research is necessary since most prescriptions come with general information concerning the medication stapled onto purchase receipts from the pharmacy. More importantly, patients would have the ability to slowly become familiar with that euphoria THC delivers thus being able to control the substance’s effects and as well as its use. Once controlled, the dangers of marijuana revolve back around its methods of consumption.
Cannabis is just as safe to consume as any other drug, and although it may be slightly addicting, caffeine has a greater risk of causing mental dependency. There are far worse drugs on the market today which have side effects including loss of appetite, depression, diarrhea, and even death. With primarily one major side effect which causes euphoria and without the hazards of smoking, marijuana can be considered a potential medical breakthrough.
“Annual Causes of Death in the United States.” 16 May 2007. Common Sense for Drug Policy. 17 Apr 2008
Abrams, D.I. “Vaporization as a Smokeless Cannabis Delivery System: A Pilot Study.” 11 April 2007. American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 09/04/2008
Grinspoon MD, L. “Marijuana as Medicine – A Plea for Reconsideration.” August 26, 2003. National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. 17 April 2008
“Marijuana Myths.” 1 April 2008 Recreational Drugs Information. 17 April 2008
“Medical Use.” The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws,
22/08/2003. National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. 09/04/2008
Stroup, Keith . ” NORML’s Testimony on Medical Marijuana Legislation in Maryland.” 2001. National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. August 24, 2006