Marijuana can be known as pot, grass and weed but its formal name is really cannabis. It originates from the leaves and flowers of the plant Cannabis sativa. It is considered an illegal substance in the US and many countries and possession of marijuana is an offense punishable by law. The FDA classifies marijuana as Schedule I, substances which employ a high prospect of abuse and haven’t any proven medical use. Through the years several studies claim that some substances present in marijuana have medicinal use, especially in terminal diseases such as cancer and AIDS. This started a fierce debate over the professionals and cons of the usage of medical marijuana. To stay 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 did not provide a clear cut yes or no answer. The alternative camps of the medical marijuana issue often cite part of the report within their advocacy arguments. However, even though the report clarified several things, it never settled the controversy once and for all.
Let’s consider the conditions that support why medical marijuana should be legalized.
(1) Marijuana is just a naturally occurring herb and has been used from South America to Asia as an herbal medicine for millennia. In this day and age when the all natural and organic are important health buzzwords, a naturally occurring herb like marijuana may 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 treat pain. Several studies indicated that THC, a marijuana component is beneficial in treating chronic pain experienced by cancer patients. However, studies on acute pain such as those experienced during surgery and trauma have inconclusive reports. Several 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 side effects of cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Some researchers are convinced that cannabis has some therapeutic potential against neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Specific compounds extracted from marijuana have strong therapeutic potential. Cannobidiol (CBD), a significant part of marijuana, has been shown to possess antipsychotic, anticancer and antioxidant properties. Other cannabinoids have been shown to avoid high intraocular pressure (IOP), a significant risk factor for glaucoma. Drugs that have substances within marijuana but have been synthetically stated in the laboratory have been approved by the US FDA. An example is Marinol, an antiemetic agent indicated for nausea and vomiting connected with cancer chemotherapy. Its active component is dronabinol, a synthetic delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
(3) Among the major proponents of medical marijuana may be the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a US-based organization. Many medical professional societies and organizations have expressed their support. As an example, The American College of Physicians, recommended a re-evaluation of the Schedule I classification of marijuana within their 2008 position paper. ACP also expresses its strong support for research into the therapeutic role of marijuana as well as exemption from federal criminal prosecution; civil liability; or professional sanctioning for physicians who prescribe or dispense medical marijuana in respect 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 found in many developed countries The argument of if they can get it done, why not 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 will also be allowing exemptions.
Now here would be the arguments against medical marijuana.
(1) Insufficient data on safety and efficacy. weed online shop europe 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 if marijuana has some beneficial health effects, the huge benefits should outweigh the risks because of it to be considered for medical use. Unless marijuana is proven to be better (safer and more effective) than drugs currently available in 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 usage of a drug or medical treatment, without knowing how to put it to use or even if it is effective, does not benefit anyone. Simply having access, with no safety, efficacy, and adequate use information does not help patients.
(2) Unknown chemical components. Medical marijuana can just only 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 there is 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 much time and money that the expense of the medications that may come from the jawhorse will be too high. Currently, no pharmaceutical company seems thinking about investing money to isolate more therapeutic components from marijuana beyond what’s already for sale in the market.
(3) Potential for abuse. Marijuana or cannabis is addictive. It may possibly not be as addictive as hard drugs such as cocaine; nevertheless it can’t be denied that there’s a possibility of substance abuse connected with marijuana. It has been demonstrated by way of a few studies as summarized in the IOM report.
(4) Insufficient a secure delivery system. The most common kind of delivery of marijuana is through smoking. Considering the present trends in anti-smoking legislations, this kind of delivery won’t ever be approved by health authorities. Reliable and safe delivery systems in the shape of vaporizers, nebulizers, or inhalers are still at the testing stage.
(5) Symptom alleviation, not cure. Even if marijuana has therapeutic effects, it’s only addressing the apparent symptoms of certain diseases. It does not treat or cure these illnesses. Given that it’s effective against these symptoms, you can find already medications available which work as well or even better, without the side effects and risk of abuse connected with 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 usage of smoked marijuana but gave a nod towards marijuana use through a medical inhaler or vaporizer. In addition, the report also recommended the compassionate use of marijuana under strict medical supervision. Furthermore, it urged more funding in the research of the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids.
Just what exactly stands in the manner of clarifying the questions raised by the IOM report? The health authorities do not appear to be interested in having another review. There is limited data available and whatever can be acquired is biased towards safety issues on the adverse effects of smoked marijuana. Data on efficacy mainly originate 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 as a result of limited funding and strict regulations. Because of the complicated legalities involved, not many pharmaceutical companies are investing in cannabinoid research. Oftentimes, it’s not yet determined how to define medical marijuana as advocated and opposed by many groups. Does it only reference the usage 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 in the market are incredibly expensive, pushing people towards the less expensive cannabinoid in the shape of marijuana. Of course, the problem is further clouded by conspiracy theories involving the pharmaceutical industry and drug regulators.