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Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/16/2018 Category: Health
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,274 times Debate No: 114004
Debate Rounds (3)
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Marijuana should be a medical option.

Claim: Marijuana should be a medical option due to it being effective in reducing pain in many health related issues. Marijuana is safe and has a positive outcome for treating pain, anxiety, and other health issues.

Grounds: Pedro Oliveros, MD, Medical Director at the Physical Medicine & Rehab Center of Orlando, stated the following in his Feb. 9, 2018 article titled "Commentary: Medical Marijuana Can Help Reduce Our Opioid Dependency: Physician," available at "As a physician, I have constantly searched for treatment options for my patients' chronic pain. And until the Florida medical marijuana initiative passed with an astonishing 71.3 percent majority in 2016, I realized I had many misconceptions about the drug. With research, though, I learned that marijuana not only has multiple potential medical uses, but it also has fewer side effects compared to other medications...In addition to pain relief, medical marijuana provides relief to the common conditions associated with chronic pain, such as anxiety/depression and insomnia. With medical marijuana, the pharmacological management for chronic pain can be simplified with lesser need to also prescribe medications for anxiety, depression and insomnia...The addictive effect of marijuana is slight, and there is no risk of death with marijuana withdrawal."

Warrant: This demonstrates that marijuana is beneficial as a medical option and there is no reason why it should be prohibited. Anxiety and other diseases can be severely dangerous or even mentally excruciating and if they can be avoided or helped they should. Marijuana can be a safe solution to these issues both physically and mentally.


Claim: Marijuana should not be a medical option because there is not sufficient evidence to prove that it is safe.

Grounds: Scott Gavura, MBA, registered pharmacist and Director of Provincial Drug Reimbursement Programs at Cancer Care Ontario, stated the following in his Jan. 11, 2018 article titled "Medical Marijuana: Where Is the Evidence?," published at "The use of psychoactive drugs like marijuana is a health issue, particularly when used for medical purposes. Regrettably, there is a lack of high-quality data that shows marijuana for most medical purposes is both safe and effective. What little evidence exists is of poor quality and may not even be representative of the purposes for which medical marijuana is sought. There are significant gaps in information necessary to treat marijuana like other forms of medicine: Dosage standardization and overall quality control may not be in place..."

To further explain what is mentioned above, Northern Kentucky Regional Drug-Free Communities Coalitions, a group of seven anti-drug organizations, stated the following in its Feb. 15, 2018 article titled "Op-ed: Let's Be More Careful about Legalizing Marijuana," available at "Marijuana use should not be legalized in any capacity. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has NOT recognized or approved the use of marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication. Marijuana is still a Schedule I drug, and as such, is not able to be effectively researched for medicinal purposes."

Warrant: Due to these statements, it is not safe to say that marijuana is a harmless drug that can be used for medical purposes. Medical marijuana has not gone under significant enough tests to prove that it is harmless and has not yet been approved by the FDA.


"Medical Marijuana -" Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option?,
Debate Round No. 1


Claim 2: Marijuana has been proven to be one of the safest drugs to use for health related issues.

Grounds: Joycelyn Elders, MD, former US Surgeon General, wrote the following in a Mar. 26, 2004 article titled "Myths About Medical Marijuana," published in the Providence Journal:

"The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS -- or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them. And it can do so with remarkable safety. Indeed, marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day."

Backing:"A number of small studies of smoked marijuana found that it can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy.More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer." "Marijuana and Cancer." American Cancer Society,

Warrant: Despite many having negative views upon it because of people who abuse of the drug, Marijuana in fact is one of the safest drugs to use. How would you feel if a family member of yours had cancer and used marijuana to take away the pain? Would you judge them for avoiding pain? Marijuana is one of the safest cancer pain controlling medications used.


Claim 1: There is no evidence to prove that marijuana is the safest drug to use when treating cancer patients.

Grounds: Stuart Gitlow, MD, MPH, MBA, and Former President of the ASAM Board of Directors Testimony to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary stated on July 13, 2016 "the dangers and risks of marijuana use are well-known by the scientific community, even if they are downplayed by corporate interests wishing to get rich off of legalization. Apathy, lost productivity, addictive disease, deterioration in intellectual function, motor vehicle accidents, and psychosis are all among the negative outcomes. All from a product that has no demonstrated benefit. For nearly all conditions for which marijuana has purported benefits, we already have existing medications - safe medications - demonstrated to have value."

Warrant: it is incorrect to say that marijuana is the safest drug to treat pain from illnesses like cancer because there are other safe medications that are approved by the FDA to treat these same symptoms.

Claim: Marijuana should not be used as a medical treatment because several trusted agencies do not support its use.

Grounds: There is currently sound evidence that smoked marijuana is harmful. A past evaluation by several Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), concluded that no scientific studies supported the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use. There are alternative FDA-approved medications in existence for treatment of many of the proposed uses of smoked marijuana. The FDA, the Federal agency responsible for reviewing the safety and efficacy of drugs, the DEA, the Federal agency charged with enforcing the CSA, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the federal coordinator of drug control policy, do not support the use of smoked marijuana for medical purposes.

Warrant: By these companies not wanting to legalize marijuana for medical use alone, it is evident that treating illnesses with marijuana is unsafe.


Stuart Gitlow, MD, MPH, MBA
Former President of the ASAM Board of Directors
Testimony to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
July 13, 2016

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
"Inter-Agency Advisory Regarding Claims That Smoked Marijuana is Medicine,"
Apr. 20, 2006
Debate Round No. 2


Based on my previous claim and grounds, there is evidence that marijuana helps cancer patients. The American Cancer Society, an organization that is dedicated to helping people who face cancer stated that evidence has been found that it does indeed help cancer patients.

Grounds: "A number of small studies of smoked marijuana found that it can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy. More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer."

Warrant: This demonstrates that marijuana does in fact have a positive effect on cancer.

Source: "Marijuana and Cancer." American Cancer Society,

Claim 3: Marijuana is an alternative method and can take the place of other medications. Those who need pain killers and want to prevent overdosing because of the lack of help their current treatment is having can use marijuana as an alternative. Marijuana can be used as many times and has no severe consequences unlike other pain treaters.

Source- Karen O'Keefe, JD, attorney and Legislative Analyst for Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), wrote the following in a Mar. 28, 2018 email to

Grounds: It is fundamentally wrong to make preserving one's health -- or life -- a crime. Yet federal marijuana laws, along with the laws of many states, do just that. There is overwhelming evidence that cannabis is one of the safest treatment options. Even the DEA's Chief Administrative Law Judge at the time, Francis Young, came to that conclusion. Research has shown that marijuana alleviates several serious symptoms and conditions including pain, nausea and wasting, Crohn's disease, spasms, and glaucoma. While around 15,000 Americans die every year from overdoses on prescription opiates, there has never been a medically documented fatal overdose on marijuana. Meanwhile, research has shown that cannabis can allow patients to reduce or eliminate their need for opiates. It is cruel and senseless to criminalize the doctor-advised use of a safe and effective treatment option."

Warrant: Instead of looking at the negatives of allowing marijuana use for medical treatment look at the real solutions. Look at how many people it can help and put yourself in their positions. Marijuana is not bad, unless people abuse it for irrelevant uses. Marijuana is good if used for true purposes like medical ones.


Claim: Marijuana is unregulated and still has no medical proof that it is safe and/or effective.

Grounds: According to an article titled, "5 Reasons Marijuana is Not Medicine" posted by The Washington Post on April 29, 2016, to approve a medicine, the FDA requires five criteria to be fulfilled:

1. The drug"s chemistry must be known and reproducible. Evidence of a standardized product, consistency, ultra-high purity, fixed dose and a measured shelf life are required by the FDA. The chemistry of "dispensary marijuana" is not standardized. Smoked, vaporized or ingested marijuana may deliver inconsistent amounts of active chemicals. Levels of the main psychoactive constituent, THC, can vary from 1 to 80 percent. Cannabidiol (known as CBD) produces effects opposite to THC, yet THC-to-CBD ratios are unregulated.
2. There must be adequate safety studies. "Dispensary marijuana" cannot be studied or used safely under medical supervision if the substance is not standardized. And while clinical research on long-term side effects has not been reported, drawing from recreational users we know that marijuana impairs or degrades brain function, and intoxicating levels interfere with learning, memory, cognition and driving. Long-term use is associated with addiction to marijuana or other drugs, loss of motivation, reduced IQ, psychosis, anxiety, excessive vomiting, sleep problems and reduced lifespan. Without a standardized product and long-term studies, the safety of indefinite use of marijuana remains unknown.
3. There must be adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy. Twelve meta-analyses of clinical trials scrutinizing smoked marijuana and cannabinoids conclude that there is no or insufficient evidence for the use of smoked marijuana for specific medical conditions. There are no studies of raw marijuana that include high-quality, unbiased, blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled or long-duration trials.
4. The drug must be accepted by well-qualified experts. Medical associations generally call for more cannabinoid research but do not endorse smoked marijuana as a medicine. The American Medical Association: "Cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern"; the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: "Medicalization" of smoked marijuana has distorted the perception of the known risks and purposed benefits of this drug;" the American Psychiatric Association: "No current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for treatment of any psychiatric disorder " the approval process should go through the FDA."
5. Scientific evidence must be widely available. The evidence for approval of medical conditions in state ballot and legislative initiatives did not conform to rigorous, objective clinical trials nor was it widely available for scrutiny.
Marijuana fails to meet any of these five criteria for accepted medical use in the United States. At present, it belongs in Schedule I.

Warrant: We can see from these examples that Marijuana production is unregulated and its use for medical purposes can be dangerous. There is a reason the FDA has not approved it as a safe drug and not enough has been done to prove its effectiveness. It is careless to advise someone to use medical marijuana when not enough research has been done to prove it is actually safe.

Madras, Bertha. "Opinion | 5 Reasons Marijuana Is Not Medicine." The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 Apr. 2016,
Debate Round No. 3
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