Marijuana has been illegal since 1970 when it was listed as a controlled substance because it was considered to offer no medical benefits. However, it is important to ask the question, “Should Medical Marijuana be Legalized or Not?” As of 2016, more than 20 states have legalized use of marijuana in one form or another for medical purposes. Among the prescribed uses are for reducing pain with cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, and many other symptoms and health conditions. For cancer patients, studies in the 1970’s concluded that smoking marijuana was helpful in reducing nausea and discomfort for cancer patients that were going through chemotherapy treatments.
Should Medical Marijuana be Legalized to Reduce Crime?
The illegal use of marijuana increases demand from other countries, drives criminal behavior from cartels and gangs in Mexico and other countries, and incidents of gun violence. Street and prison gangs are responsible for most of the illegal drug distribution (Department of Justice) in the U.S. creates an illegal black market in the U.S. avoiding potential revenues from legal sale of marijuana. Additionally, arrests and incarcerations in the U.S. disproportionally affect blacks (more than 20% of all marijuana-related arrests) and Hispanics.
Marijuana is Not as Addictive or Toxic as Alcohol
Marijuana can be addictive through continued use by making changes in the brain that cause the user to continue usage even if it is harmful or destructive to the user’s well-being. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 9% of marijuana users will become addicted. However, as an illegal substance, there are few studies to evaluate the level of addiction; however, when comparing the potential addiction of marijuana (9% of users) to alcohol (16% of users), it’s clear that alcohol presents far greater risks.
Over the years, marijuana growers have engineered increasingly potent forms of the plant. For example, samples obtained in the 1990’s were only 1/3 as potent in THC concentration as samples in recent years. Unknown to most people, THC, the active component in marijuana – the psychoactive agent – that “gets you high” is only 1 of more than 60 other active components with potential medical uses.
Like any drug, marijuana is not necessarily “harmless.”
Yes, short term binge drinking can kill you because your body cannot metabolize or rid the body of the toxic components of alcohol that build up in the brain, which can shut down vital life functions. It is difficult to overdose on marijuana. The greatest risk of marijuana, other than impaired function for adults, is to young people, especially between the ages of 11-19, with brains that are still in development. Marijuana can potentially impair brain development.
Should Medical Marijuana be Legalized for Health Benefits?
Medical marijuana can be used to treat glaucoma
Glaucoma is a painful condition which increases pressure on the eye resulting in damage to the eye’s optic nerve and potential blindness. Smoking marijuana has been show to reduce pressure in the eye and to slow the progress of the disease, thus preventing loss of vision.
Marijuana can be used to treat cancer
A study from 2007 identified that cancer cells treated with a cannabidiol (active component in marijuana) had reduced the spreading of an aggressive form of breast cancer. Active components of Marijuana may turn off a specific cancer gene “ID-1” which accelerates spread of the disease (Molecular Cancer Therapeutics).
Medical Marijuana may be used to treat Crohn’s disease
Symptoms from Chron’s and other inflammatory bowel disease may be reduced by treatment with marijuana. From a recent study in Israel, researchers found that about half of the patients in a controlled study experienced a significant reduction in symptoms or a complete cancellation of the disease.
Where Do You Stand on This Debate?
Pleas share your personal story or opinion about the ramifications of legalizing or not legalizing marijuana. This is an important discussion for our country and our readers would like to participate in the discussion about, “Should Medical Marijuana Be Legalized or Not?”