LegalizingMarijuana for Medical Purpose
LegalizingMarijuana for Medical Purpose
Theuse of marijuana is a phenomenon that is not accurately reported inthe contemporary society. In many countries, the law has restrictedits use, and cannabis is applied in the treatment of certainphysiological conditions especially pain relief (chronic andneuropathic). However, there are adverse effects that accompany itsconsumption more so addiction. The use of marijuana for medicalpurposes is a highly contentious issue. Different people have variedviewpoints regarding the topic. Most of the time, individuals whosuffer from chronic illnesses rarely get the chance to make informeddecisions concerning the facts and available evidence concerning themedical application of cannabis.
Aconsiderable number of research studies have indicated the benefitsof the drug. Medical marijuana is the term used to describe theunprocessed cannabis plant or its original extract that can be usedto treat a disease. Despite its benefits, the United States Food andDrug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of marijuana formedical purposes. The drug is composed of chemicals calledcannabinoids. These components have been incorporated into pills thathelp in the treatment of several illnesses and symptoms. Due to thisfact, some states have gone to the extent of legalizing marijuana formedical purposes. Washington and Colorado have legalized its use bothfor medical and recreational purposes.
Medicalmarijuana is lawful in 23 states. The main chemical that brings thehigh feeling is known as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The human bodyis capable of producing chemicals similar to THC which is responsiblefor healthy brain function and development. This compound works byco-opting the natural physiological pathways to produce its effects.In most cases, medical marijuana can be taken in several forms suchas smoke, vapor, pills and the edible style added to cookies, cakes,chocolate bars and brownies [ CITATION Nat16 l 1033 ].
Theideology that cannabis has therapeutic effects is one that issupported by science. As mentioned earlier, the cannabinoid componentcan modulate pain. As such, the plant can be used effectively for themanagement of pain due to damaged nerves as well as in HIV patientswhere morphine is not efficient. In another study done by theAmerican Academy of Neurology, the researchers discovered thatmedical marijuana seems to reduce muscle spasms and stiffness inpatients with Multiple Sclerosis.
Additionally,it can also be used in the stimulation of appetite among patientsliving with HIV/AIDS or any other individual with diminishedappetite. In some instances, medical marijuana has been widely knownto treat nausea that occurs due to chemotherapy although it has notbeen well researched. The sentiment is supported by the fact that twoFDA-approved medications dronabinol and nabilone are shown to possessthe ability to reduce nausea and vomiting in cancer treatmentpatients [ CITATION Kim15 l 1033 ].
Glaucomais another condition that many people have touted that marijuanatreats. The disease is characterized by high pressure in the eyeballleading to blindness. Smoking marijuana has an effect in reducingintraocular pressure. However, the drug requires repeated consumptionin a day to achieve the desired effect. In the year 2012, a studypublished in a renowned journal established that cannabidiol could beactive in treating schizophrenia. Recent studies on animal subjectshave indicated that marijuana extracts can help in the destruction ofparticular cancerous cells while reducing the size of others [ CITATION Law11 l 1033 ].Likewise, purified sources combined with radiotherapy increase thecancer-killing effects. Currently, there are clinical and preclinicaltrials that look into analyzing the use of marijuana in treatingdiseases and conditions such as autoimmune diseases, multiplesclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation, pain, substance abuseproblems and mental disorders [ CITATION Kim15 l 1033 ].
Despitethe benefits that have been outlined above, medical marijuana comeswith its side effects. These range from possible addiction tointerference with attention, judgment, and balance. Some of theseoutcomes have prompted several states to allow medical marijuanatreatment but with a doctor’s approval [ CITATION Law11 l 1033 ].
Physicaland Psychiatric Effects
Theuse of cannabis without proper prescription leads to adverse effects.Physical symptoms that arise include an amplified heart rate,euphoria, anxiety, psychomotor problems, impairment of cognition andmemory issues. In people who use the drug in high dosages, there isdecreased pulmonary function, pulmonary infections, and obstructivebreathing diseases. Studies using animals have established thatcannabis smoke has some mutagenic effects and cancerous pathologythat is similar to that of tobacco consumption. Some reports havesuggested the involvement of cannabis with cardiac arrhythmias,coronary insufficiency, and myocardial infarction. A considerablenumber of researchers also found a link between marijuana use and lowbirth weight [ CITATION Nat16 l 1033 ].
Itis widely known that Cannabis is a drug that has a high potential foraddiction. Apparently, one out of ten users is likely to be addicted.It leads to behavior related but not limited to preoccupation,compulsion, reinforcement and withdrawal symptoms. Australianresearchers established that cannabis withdrawal symptoms includeanorexia, insomnia, irritability, dysphoria, lethargy, and cravings.These symptoms are coupled with the association between marijuana useand psychosis. Even though there is a legal restriction, cannabis isused by 10-15% of patients with multiple sclerosis and for painreduction. Arthritic pain can also be diminished in this way [ CITATION Nat16 l 1033 ].
TheChallenges of Using Cannabis
Despitethe profound evidence of the benefits of marijuana in certainconditions, the application of medical marijuana in treatment facesstrong legal jurisdictions and several unique challenges. First andforemost, the mode of delivery of the drug is a primary issue. Thisis accompanied by the lack of quality control for its use. Smoking isconsidered the most common delivery route.
Thismakes it hard for a health professional to prescribe the properadministration technique, the required amount and also the qualitycontrol aspects. Secondly, the levels of THC vary significantlydepending on the region where the plant is produced, and also theparticular part being used. The method of storage and cultivationtechnique leads to the varied chemical content. This occurrence meansthat the side effects vary from one species to another. For theextract to be used as a prescription, standardization, and titrationof the dose is an enormous task [ CITATION Kim15 l 1033 ].
Secondly,there is the need to perform monitoring and establishing the bestmethods of preventing addiction. Due to the above mentioned adverseeffects, doctors and physicians must have the knowledge, experience,and skills to determine the addiction potential. Close surveillancehas to be adhered to protect the health of the patients. On top ofthat, studies have shown that cannabis has significantly high levelsof biological contaminants. These impurities include fungi such asAspergillus and bacteria that cause pneumonia. Non-biologicalpollutants are also present including heavy metals such as aluminumand cadmium. Traces of pesticides and glass beads have also beennoticed in outdoor grown and street samples of cannabis respectively.These contaminants can damage the mucosal lining and the lungs [ CITATION Kim15 l 1033 ].
Thirdly,the effect of secondary inhalation is a subject that has not beensufficiently exhausted. However, some studies have indicated that thethreat is negligible. The controversy persists because cannabis isdescribed as a potent drug that is capable of altering the mood,judgment and functional ability. On the other hand, its effects aremuch less dangerous compared to that of opiates and other narcotics.Medical prescription of medication is a field that requires extremecare before advising a patient to use certain drugs. As such, theprocess of advocating for the application of medical marijuana needssubstantial support from research and clinical trials to come up witha prescription that has proven capabilities [ CITATION Law11 l 1033 ].
Legalizationof marijuana for medical purposes is an issue that requires thoroughpreparation, proof and substantial outcome reports. It is evidentlyclear that embarking on the legalization process without priorstudies is a risky venture to the health of patients and the public.Even though the medication can treat the discussed diseases, in somecases there are alternative measures that can be put into use.Similarly, the raised concerns of dosage standardization, qualitycontrol, adverse side effects, and outcome profiling and addictionprevention have to be resolved before efficient use can begin.Furthermore, legalization without proper legislation for use can makethe drug more available and increase the risk of abuse in thesociety. Last but not least, the Federal Drug EnforcementAdministration has classified marijuana as a drug that can be highlyabused and has no genuine therapeutic applications. Due to thesecircumstances, high-end studies cannot be easily done to establishthe actual effects.
Leung, L. (2011). Cannabis and Its Derivatives: Review of Medical Use. American Board of Family Medicine, 452-462.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016, July). DrugFacts: Is Marijuana Medicine? Retrieved from National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine
Zimmermann, K. A. (2015, January 14). Medical Marijuana: Benefits, Risks & State Laws. Retrieved from Livescience: http://www.livescience.com/24554-medical-marijuana.html