Medical Marijuana Debate

History and Debate of Medical Marijuana

In the practice of medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, doctors recommend that their patients ingest cannabis and the cannabinoids which it contains, such as THC as a form of medicine or herbal treatment. The cannabis plant has been employed in this fashion for centuries, with evidence coming from as early as ancient Egypt and ancient Greece, and in the 19th century, it was a very common pain reliever. However, since marijuana has become illegal in most parts of the world, many now dispute whether its potential medical benefits outweigh its risks. It is currently used in treatment for cancer and AIDS patients during end-of-life care as well as for people with glaucoma; the drug also may be appropriate for persons with PMS, insomnia, Tourettes syndrome and fibromyalgia. Research is in progress about how cannabis might benefit those who suffer from a number of other diseases as well.

The Marijuana Debate - Is It Beneficial?

There are several positive effects claimed for medical marijuana, among them stimulating hunger, easing gastrointestinal distress, relaxing muscles, reducing nausea, mitigating pain and lowering eye pressure. While studies have proven several of these benefits scientifically, some observers feel that the potential dangers of marijuana outweigh its benefits as a treatment plan. Critics of medical cannabis cite its high potential for abuse and the many studies showing its harmful effects on the brain; they also object to the practice of smoking in general as carcinogenic.One response to this criticism has been to develop other methods of administering the drug. The most widespread of these is as inhaling it through a vaporizer, which extracts and heats the active constituents in marijuana without reaching the temperature at which they ignite so that no toxic compounds or irritants are generated. An adequate amount of THC is still delivered into the bloodstream by the vaporization method.

Another administration option is to bake marijuana at a relatively low temperature to kill any dangerous microorganisms and then allow that patient to eat it or drink it. Both of these methods of administration make smoking the drug unnecessary. However, criticism of medical marijuana has also been raised because as a natural plant, it cannot be patented and marketed by pharmaceutical companies and is unlikely to win widespread medical acceptance.

Given the medical marijuana debate, it is not surprising that formal authorization of its use is not currently widespread. The United Nations has banned cannabis for all purposes other than scientific research but allows its members to license medical or scientific uses for marijuana if they believe this to be in the public interest; among the countries that have done so are Canada, Finland and Spain. In the United States, cannabis is criminalized and listed as a Schedule 1 drug on a par with heroin, making it illegal on the federal level. However, organizations such as the American Medical Organization have called for the drug to be reclassified. In addition, states and localities may still individually authorize the medical use of cannabis In fact, sixteen states have legalized marijuana when employed for medical purposes. California has a large medical cannabis industry, for example.

While the medical marijuana debate over the potential negative ramifications is unlikely to cease any time soon, patients still continue to use the drug under the supervision of their doctors and to claim that it benefits them in many ways.

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