Whether you are a medical marijuana supporter or have an in differing opinion, marijuana, also referred to as cannabis, has been around since – well it has always been. Marijuana was an effective popular medicine in ancient civilizations. In 2900 BC, the Emperor Fu Hsi referred to ‘Ma’, cannabis in Chinese, as a popular medicine effective for an array of ailments. Fast forward to the United States during the 20th century, cannabis is currently forbidden. It is not recognized as a safe medication and has been determined to be a Schedule I substance of the Controlled Substances Act.
Take an Educated Stance
There are differing opinions when it comes to cannabis in the medical world. Marijuana is looked down upon by some health-care professionals, while praised by others. Medical professionals are reconsidering the effects of cannabis. Is it worth the damage that will be caused by those who people who smoke marijuana? It is hard to ignore the fact that people who smoke cannabis are 5 times more likely to have a heart attack within the first hour after consumption.
There are now over 22 states legalizing marijuana for medical uses and 4 that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Politics and prejudice are clashing with science and passion, while exploring the plant and how it interacts with the human body. Legal acceptance of marijuana use is on the rise and increased usage brings to light increased health risks and other aspects such as, cannabis edibles.
There are many proponents of medical marijuana announce that the benefits immensely outweigh the potential health risks. Most people are generally curious about the medical marijuana. While medical marijuana can be beneficial for certain medical uses or treatments, medical marijuana can be abused just as prescription pills are. The risks of use, as well as the health risks should be fully understood before it is prescribed for medical use.
Physicians and Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana has been used to help relieve certain ailments such as:
These symptoms often overwhelm those with illnesses such as:
ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease
Spinal Cord Damage,
MS, Multiple Sclerosis
It is true that medical marijuana is less toxic than a number of experimental as well as established drugs that are being prescribed. Joycelyn Elders a MD and former US Surgeon General supports medical marijuana and believes it can be used to help treat the symptoms as well as the pain caused by the aforementioned illnesses.
On the other hand, another medical doctor and former US Senator feels differently about medical marijuana. Bill Frist cautions against the usage of medical marijuana; due to what he cites as the huge lack of reputable and consistent scientific data available to fully prove the medical benefits of marijuana. He states that marijuana can not only be a very harmful drug, but that there is a host of far less health risking medicines that can offer the same level of relief from medical symptoms and pain.
Professional Institutions and Medical Marijuana
The American College of Physicians is urging states to review their status of marijuana being a scheduled one controlled substance and pushing for an “appropriate” schedule of the drug. They cite scientific evidence regarding the efficacy and safety in certain clinical situations. They support exemption from professional sanctioning, criminal prosecution, civil liability, and loss of credentials or licenses for any physician who dispenses or prescribes medical marijuana as permitted by state law. ACP is urging civil and criminal protection for patients who utilize medical marijuana in accordance with their state laws.
While the ACP is pushing for states to review medical marijuana’s status, NEI (National Eye Institute) has supported studies of marijuana beginning in 1978 in an effort to determine whether or not it is an effective treatment for glaucoma. The NEI states that none of the studies showed that neither marijuana nor any of the components of it could successfully lower intra-ocular pressure, as effectively as other drugs that are already available. They went on to state that there are some severe effects of using marijuana such as, a decrease in blood pressure and an increase in heart rate.
Smoking a Daily Dose of Marijuana is Comparable to Breathing Low Quality Air for a Day?
A professor from the Harvard Medical School believes that there is little to no evidence showing that smoking marijuana, as a means of consuming, represents a large health risk; citing that although marijuana has been consumed in the West for over 40 years, there has been no reported case of emphysema or lung cancer from it. The professor went on to say that a day’s worth of breathing in any city with poor air quality can pose more of a risk than inhaling a daily dose of marijuana.
The British Lung Foundation does not agree with the professor citing that three to four marijuana cigarettes a day show the same evidence of chronic and acute bronchitis as well as the same degree of damage to the bronchial mucosa as a pack of tobacco cigarettes per day. They went on to say that smoking marijuana is very likely to weaken your immune system and make the lungs more prone to infection. This is due to the impairment of immune cells and smoking damage caused to the cells lining the bronchial passage.
Donald Abrams a medical professional published his finding on cannabinoids, stating that patients who took cannabinoids (which is marijuana pills or smoked marijuana) showed improvements in immune function when compared to those receiving a placebo. On top of that, their weight also increased an average of 4lbs more than the others who were on the placebo.
The Institute of Medicine Report states that the some of the compelling concerns when it comes to AIDS and HIV patients using medical marijuana is the possible detrimental effects on their immune system. Some AIDS patients that consumed medical marijuana contained bacterial and fungal pneumonia which suggests that smoking marijuana can expose patients to additional amounts of pathogens or suppress their immune system. They went on to say that patients with a pre-existing immune deficit from AIDS should realize and expect to be more susceptible to harm when using marijuana. AIDS patients would not be able to utilize a marijuana detox in the same way as other users of it, due to the fact of their weakened immune system.
The United States Government’s View on Medical Marijuana
John Walters the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, believes smoking marijuana will damage the heart, lungs, immune system, and brain. He believes that it impairs and interferes with learning, dramatically effecting one’s perception, judgment, and memory.
Judge Francis L. Young a DEA Administrative Law Judge ruling on the petition to reschedule marijuana’s drug class cited that marijuana has been accepted as being able to help relieve distress in large numbers of people who are very ill, and doing so under proper medical supervision. The judge went on to say it would be completely unreasonable, capricious, and arbitrary of the DEA to continue to stand between the sufferers and the benefits of medical marijuana.
The Terminally Ill and Medical Marijuana
Gabriel Nahas, a medical professional, believes that the usage of medical marijuana cannot be looked at or considered as an intervention that is therapeutic. That it is being utilized as one of many procedures utilized to comfort the pain of life for those that are terminally ill. Gabriel thinks that doctors should stick to prescribing more analgesic and antiemetic therapies with proven results, rather than smoking medical marijuana and having to worry about marijuana detox with prolonged use.
For patients with terminal cancer, or advanced cases of AIDS, Consumer Reports believes that the benefits that come with smoking medical marijuana out number any suspected or substantiated risks. They believe the same way the FDA has hastened their approval for cancer drugs, that the same haste should be used to relax federal laws and put the rights back into the states to allow doctors to prescribe and dispense medical marijuana on a compassionate and caring basis.
Medical Marijuana vs. Other Medicines
The California Narcotics Officers Association believes that marijuana to be an unstable mixture that contains over 400 chemicals, which includes many psychoactive chemicals that have been largely unstudied and appear in uncontrolled amounts. Marinol boasts of being non-addictive and never requires a marijuana detox.
Gregory Carter, MD states that there are not any other medications that contain the same action mechanisms as medical marijuana. He went on to state that Marinol has a large disadvantage due to only containing one synthetic form of THC, which is only one of many within marijuana.
The Risk of Addiction and Gateway Effect with Medical Marijuana
Out of everyone who uses marijuana around 10% will lead to psychological dependence, but there is little to no evidence that it carries a risk of true addiction when compared to cigarette smokers. Colin Blakemore and Leslie Iverson from the University of Oxford went on to cite that unlike alcohol, hard drugs, and nicotine there is not a withdrawal syndrome and that is the hallmark of true addiction when usage ceases.
Alan Budney, from the University of Arkansas, believes that marijuana withdrawal is comparable to nicotine withdrawal and that craving for marijuana increased sleep difficulty, decreased appetite, and fluctuated weight loss. The withdrawal effects of marijuana without a marijuana detox can be staggering, anger, aggression, restlessness, strange dreams, and irritability are among the few withdrawal symptoms reported.
A researcher, at the Rand Corporation, believes that they have shown that the “marijuana gateway effect” is not the best explanation for the link between the usage of harder drugs when beginning with marijuana. The researcher believes their study has shown a more compelling and simpler explanation that accounts for the pattern of drug use within the United States. Citing that the difference is that those who are more likely to use drugs and have the ability to do so will use both. The reason marijuana gets the stigma of the gateway drug is because it is usually the first drug taken because it is more widely available than the harder drugs.
The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration believes in a federal report released that concludes that the younger the children are when they use marijuana, they become likely to use heroin and cocaine, as well as become dependent on drugs as an adult. The same goes for those who initiate marijuana use at a later age, they become more likely to use heroin and cocaine as well as become drug dependent.
The Effect of Marijuana on the Youth
While it is impossible to fully determine, without a doubt, that the state’s medical marijuana laws caused the large documented declines in adolescent marijuana use, the large downward trend is being attributed as such by proponent of medical marijuana stating that it strongly suggests that state’s medical marijuana laws effects on teen marijuana use has been either positive or neutral. This is discouraging youthful experimentation with marijuana. Children who often enter drug abuse treatment and begin their marijuana detox state that they heard “pot is medicine” and that they thought it was good for them. This can undercut the goals of stopping illegal drug use, as well as destabilize the societal norm.
Medical Marijuana and You
When it comes to medical marijuana, you have to decide if it is right for you. With marijuana becoming more widely prescribed and accepted worldwide, the benefits and health risks need to be weighed and heavily considered. Around 10% of those who use marijuana are becoming psychologically addicted and some medical professionals are stating that there are deeper levels to marijuana addiction and withdrawal. The likelihood of addiction needs to be seriously analyzed before being prescribed. Some medical professionals are reporting that the marijuana detox symptoms rival that of harder drugs. This also needs to be considered when deciding whether or not to use medical marijuana to treat symptoms or pain.
Additionally, consider how long medical marijuana will be prescribed and how long one will use marijuana to treat illnesses. Ask a doctor what the side effects of prolonged use if you plan on using medical marijuana for a longer term. When you stop using marijuana will you need to use a marijuana detox or will you be able to quit without any suffering and of the reported “harsher” withdrawal symptoms?
Medical marijuana can be truly beneficial to those treating certain symptoms of illnesses or reliving pain. Medical Marijuana has helped countless patients through chemotherapy and other treatments; however it can also be an addictive drug that can further damage the immune system of an HIV or AIDS patient, which can present further serious health risks. Only you and your doctor can decide if medical marijuana is right for you and your current situation.