Marijuana can also be known as pot, grass and weed but its formal name is really cannabis. It comes from the leaves and flowers of the plant Cannabis sativa. It is known as an illegal substance in the US and many countries and possession of marijuana is a crime punishable by law. The FDA classifies marijuana as Schedule I, substances which employ a high potential for abuse and don’t have any proven medical use. Over the years several studies claim that some substances present in marijuana have medicinal use, especially in terminal diseases such as for example cancer and AIDS. This started a fierce debate over the pros and cons of the use of medical marijuana. To settle this debate, the Institute of Medicine published the famous 1999 IOM report entitled Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. The report was comprehensive but didn’t offer a clear cut yes or no answer. The opposite camps of the medical marijuana issue often cite the main report in their advocacy arguments. However, even though the report clarified a lot of things, it never settled the controversy once and for all.
Let’s consider the problems that support why medical marijuana should really be legalized.
(1) Marijuana is really a naturally occurring herb and has been used from South America to Asia being an herbal medicine for millennia. In today and age when the all natural and organic are essential health buzzwords, a naturally occurring herb like marijuana could be more appealing to and safer for consumers than synthetic drugs.
(2) Marijuana has strong therapeutic potential. Several studies, as summarized in the IOM report, have observed that cannabis can be used as analgesic, e.g. to take care of pain. A couple of studies indicated that THC, a marijuana component is effective in treating chronic pain experienced by cancer patients. However, studies on acute pain such as for example those experienced during surgery and trauma have inconclusive reports. A couple of studies, also summarized in the IOM report, have demonstrated that some marijuana components have antiemetic properties and are, therefore, effective against nausea and vomiting, which are normal unwanted effects of cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Some researchers are convinced that cannabis has some therapeutic potential against neurological diseases such as for example multiple sclerosis. Specific compounds extracted from marijuana have strong therapeutic potential. Cannobidiol (CBD), an important element of marijuana, has been shown to possess antipsychotic, anticancer and antioxidant properties. Other cannabinoids have been shown to stop high intraocular pressure (IOP), an important risk factor for glaucoma. Drugs that have ingredients within marijuana but have been synthetically manufactured in the laboratory have been approved by the US FDA. One of these is Marinol, an antiemetic agent indicated for nausea and vomiting related to cancer chemotherapy. Its active component is dronabinol, a manufactured delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
(3) One of many major proponents of medical marijuana is the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a US-based organization. Many medical professional societies and organizations have expressed their support. For example, The American College of Physicians, recommended a re-evaluation of the Schedule I classification of marijuana in their 2008 position paper. ACP also expresses its strong support for research in to the therapeutic role of marijuana along with exemption from federal criminal prosecution; civil liability; or professional sanctioning for physicians who prescribe or dispense medical marijuana in accordance with state law. Similarly, protection from criminal or civil penalties for patients who use medical marijuana as permitted under state laws.
(4) Medical marijuana is legally used in many developed countries The argument of if they can do it, you will want to us? is another strong point. Some countries, including Canada, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, Israel, and Finland have legalized the therapeutic use of marijuana under strict prescription control. Some states in the US are also allowing exemptions.
Now here will be the arguments against medical marijuana.
(1) Not enough data on safety and efficacy. Drug regulation is based on safety first. The safety of marijuana and its components still has to first be established. Efficacy only comes second. Even though marijuana has some beneficial health effects, the advantages should outweigh the risks for this to be looked at for medical use. Unless marijuana is which can be better (safer and more effective) than drugs currently available on the market, its approval for medical use may be a long shot. In line with the testimony of Robert J. Meyer of the Department of Health and Human Services having use of a drug or medical treatment, without knowing how exactly to put it to use or even if it is effective, doesn’t benefit anyone. Simply having access, without having safety, efficacy, and adequate use information doesn’t help patients.
(2) Unknown chemical components. Medical marijuana can only just be easily accessible and affordable in herbal form. Like other herbs, marijuana falls underneath the category of botanical products. Unpurified botanical products, however, face many problems including lot-to-lot consistency, dosage determination, potency, shelf-life, and toxicity. In line with the IOM report if you have any future of marijuana as a medicine, it is based on its isolated components, the cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives. To totally characterize different the different parts of marijuana would cost so long and money that the expenses of the medications that’ll come from it could be too high. Currently, no pharmaceutical company seems thinking about investing money to isolate more therapeutic components from marijuana beyond what’s already obtainable in the market.
(3) Prospect of abuse. Marijuana or cannabis is addictive. It may not be as addictive as hard drugs such as for example cocaine; nevertheless it can’t be denied that there surely is a potential for substance abuse related to marijuana. It’s been demonstrated by a few studies as summarized in the IOM report.
(4) Not enough a secure delivery system. The most frequent type of delivery of marijuana is through smoking. Considering the present trends in anti-smoking legislations, this type of delivery will never be approved by health authorities. Reliable and safe delivery systems in the proper execution of vaporizers, nebulizers, or inhalers are still at the testing stage.
(5) Symptom alleviation, not cure. Even though marijuana has therapeutic effects, it is only addressing the symptoms of certain diseases. It doesn’t treat or cure these illnesses. Given it is effective against these symptoms, there are already medications available which work equally well or even better, without the medial side effects and risk of abuse related to marijuana.
The 1999 IOM report couldn’t settle the debate about medical marijuana with scientific evidence available at that time. The report definitely discouraged the use of smoked marijuana but gave a nod towards marijuana use through a medical inhaler or vaporizer. Furthermore, the report also recommended the compassionate use of marijuana under strict medical supervision. Furthermore, it urged more funding in the study of the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids.
Just what exactly stands in the way of clarifying the questions brought up by the IOM report? The authorities don’t seem to be interested in having another review. order weed amsterdam There is limited data available and whatever is available is biased towards safety issues on the undesireable effects of smoked marijuana. Data on efficacy mainly come from studies on synthetic cannabinoids (e.g. THC). This disparity in data makes an objective risk-benefit assessment difficult.
Clinical studies on marijuana are few and difficult to conduct due to limited funding and strict regulations. Due to the complicated legalities involved, hardly any pharmaceutical companies are investing in cannabinoid research. In many cases, it is not yet determined how exactly to define medical marijuana as advocated and opposed by many groups. Does it only make reference to the use of the botanical product marijuana or does it include synthetic cannabinoid components (e.g. THC and derivatives) as well? Synthetic cannabinoids (e.g. Marinol) available on the market are really expensive, pushing people towards the more affordable cannabinoid in the proper execution of marijuana. Obviously, the issue is further clouded by conspiracy theories relating to the pharmaceutical industry and drug regulators.