The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, a social or political issue, seems to be in question. The opponents to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes stick to the same argument of social and at times religious effects. The support of the movement seems to be basing all evidence in the far-reaching uses of cannabis beyond medical application. With Washington and Colorado both recently legalizing marijuana for recreational use, it reopens the debate about whether or not marijuana should be legal for medicinal purposes in the United States. A look at the current research, an analyzing the argument of those who are pro medical marijuana against those who are against suggests the only reason that marijuana is not legal for medical purposes is because of social and political factions who are actively fighting against such legislation.
One of the arguments against medical marijuana is that it serves no medical purpose and people use the medicinal argument in order to “get high.” That view is contrary to research done by the Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior reports. THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol and it is the psychoactive compound in marijuana. Researchers have shown in rodents that CBC, a non-psychoactive property of the marijuana plant could mitigate neural generation associated with excessive consumption levels of alcohol.
The study tilted “Transdermal delivery of cannabidiol attenuates binge alcohol-induced neurodegeneration in rodent model of an alcohol use disorder.” Was done by the University of Kentucky’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. (Liput, 2013). The study showed that one property of marijuana could help mitigate some of the ill effects of alcoholism. The part of the pot plant that was used was not the psychoactive component, THC that is usually talked about. According to the study’s authors, “These results demonstrate the feasibility of using CBD transdermal deliver systems for the treatment of alcohol-induced neurodegeneration.” (Liput, 2013).
One of the most prominent arguments against the use of medical marijuana is that there is “NO reliable evidence that marijuana has medical value. Existing evidence is either anecdotal, unscientific, or not replicated” (Thompson, 2009). When valuing two arguments it becomes important to look at not just the argument, but how it is framed. The argument that there is absolutely no evidence for there being medical uses for medical marijuana is categorically false.
There has been plenty of scientific evidence that has come to the conclusion that confirms the medical benefits of marijuana. In 1999, it was studies done by the IOM, national Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine whose research showed “Nausea, appetite loss, pain, and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana” (Thompson, 2009). Since there were laws in place for a number of years preventing researchers from doing scientific research involving the study of the medical benefits of marijuana, good data and research does not exist in abundance on the issue. There have been other studies though outside of the work done by the IOM, which shows positive properties existing from the THC in Marijuana.
More recent research has shown the benefits of medical marijuana. Three studies conducted by the University of California and published in 2007 have shown that marijuana can relieve neuropathic pain caused by damage to the nerves. This is the type of pain the regularly affects people with multiple sclerosis, AIDS diabetes and a variety of other conditions in which the prescription medicine available is lacking. A study conducted by the European Journal of Gastroenterology showed that patients with hepatitis C who used marijuana had cure rate of three times those not using it.
Outside of such studies there is also the testimony of the DEA’s chief administration judge, Francis Young, who surprised many in a ruling when he stated, “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those suffers and the benefits of this substance.
While in a country of free speech, there is always room for debate and a difference of opinion, to state flat out that marijuana offers no medicinal benefits whatsoever, is to deny a vast body of research, statistical, analytical, and anecdotal that is out there.
Another argument against the legalization of medical marijuana is that it is an addictive substance and patients prescribed it for a certain condition will then be stuck with another condition of drug dependency to THC. There are two arguments against this line of reasoning. IN the first is that just because a substance has the potential to be abused, does not mean that it is without a role in the pharmacy. Drugs like Oxycodone have been shown to be very habit forming. Even those who believe that marijuana is habit forming would need to admit that it carries with it a much lower risk of dependency than a drug like Oxycodone. Colin Blakemore, who is the chair of the department of physiology in The University of Oxford, wrote that, “Unlike for nicotine, alcohol and hard drugs, there is no clearly defined withdrawal syndrome, the hallmark of true addiction, when use is stopped [for marijuana]” (Blakemore, 2007).
Another argument against the use of any marijuana, medical or recreational, is that marijuana is a gateway drug leading a user to experiment with other, “harder” drugs. The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration put out a report which said “A new federal report released today concludes the younger children are when they first use marijuana, the more likely they are to use cocaine and heroin and become dependent on drugs as adult” (SAMHSA, 2009). When looking at a statistic like this, it is important to remember that correlation does not prove causation. It is reasonable to assume that an individual willing to experiment with marijuana at an early age, even while the recreational use of marijuana is illegal, is of a personality type that is more likely to experiment with other and harder drugs. So while this fact is often entered into the literature on the medical marijuana debate, it is not extremely relevant or helpful in the context of the debate.
This is a debate surrounding medical marijuana is a polarized debate. Unhelpful to being able to rationally look at the situation is that for the past 50 years the US government has had a sustained propaganda campaign directed against marijuana. This creates a climate that is not based on logic, but on coerced opinions. A look at the research out there shows that there are serious researchers who have made positive links between marijuana and medical therapies.
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"5 Arguments Against Medical Marijuana."High Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2014. <http://www.hightimes.com/read/5-arguments-against-medical-marijuana>.
Feature, WebMD. "The Debate Over Medical Marijuana." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. <http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/mary-jane-medicine-marijuana-political-issue>.
"THC." TheFreeDictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. <http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/THC
"Time to Legalize Medical Marijuana in NC."GoPetition. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2014. <http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/legalize-medical-marijuana-in-nc1.html>.