Marijuana is also referred to as pot, grass and weed but its formal name is clearly cannabis. It comes 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 possibility of abuse and don’t have any proven medical use. Over time several studies declare that some substances within marijuana have medicinal use, especially in terminal diseases such as cancer and AIDS. This started a fierce debate over the pros and cons of the usage 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 provide a clear cut yes or no answer. The contrary camps of the medical marijuana issue often cite part of the report within their advocacy arguments. However, even though report clarified a lot of things, it never settled the controversy once and for all.
Let’s go through the problems that support why medical marijuana should be legalized.
(1) Marijuana is a naturally occurring herb and has been used from South America to Asia as an herbal medicine for millennia. In today and age when the natural and organic are very important health buzzwords, a naturally occurring herb like marijuana could be more desirable 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 may be used as analgesic, e.g. to deal with pain. Several studies showed that THC, a marijuana component is effective 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 typical negative 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 major part of marijuana, has been shown to own antipsychotic, anticancer and antioxidant properties. Other cannabinoids have already been shown to prevent high intraocular pressure (IOP), a major risk factor for glaucoma. Drugs that contain substances within marijuana but have already been synthetically manufactured in the laboratory have already 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 synthetic delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
(3) One of many major proponents of medical marijuana could be 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 within their 2008 position paper. ACP also expresses its strong support for research to the therapeutic role of marijuana in addition to 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 utilized in many developed countries The argument of if they could get it done, why don’t you 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 are the arguments against medical marijuana.
(1) Insufficient data on safety and efficacy. Drug regulation is founded on safety first. The safety of marijuana and its components really has to first be established. buy weed online europe delivery Efficacy only comes second. Even though marijuana has some beneficial health effects, the advantages should outweigh the risks because of it to be considered 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. According to the testimony of Robert J. Meyer of the Department of Health and Human Services having access to a drug or medical treatment, without knowing how to put it to use as well as when 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 readily available and affordable in herbal form. Like other herbs, marijuana falls under the category of botanical products. Unpurified botanical products, however, face many problems including lot-to-lot consistency, dosage determination, potency, shelf-life, and toxicity. According to the IOM report when there is any future of marijuana as a medication, it lies in its isolated components, the cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives. To totally characterize the different aspects of marijuana would cost so enough time and money that the expenses of the medications that’ll come from it will be too high. Currently, no pharmaceutical company seems enthusiastic about investing money to isolate more therapeutic components from marijuana beyond what’s already available in the market.
(3) Prospect of abuse. Marijuana or cannabis is addictive. It may possibly not be as addictive as hard drugs such as cocaine; nevertheless it cannot be denied that there’s a possibility of substance abuse related to marijuana. This has been demonstrated with a few studies as summarized in the IOM report.
(4) Insufficient a secure delivery system. The most frequent form of delivery of marijuana is through smoking. Considering the present trends in anti-smoking legislations, this form of delivery will never be approved by health authorities. Reliable and safe delivery systems in the form of vaporizers, nebulizers, or inhalers remain 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 that it’s effective against these symptoms, you will find already medications available which work equally well as well as better, without the medial side effects and danger of abuse related to marijuana.
The 1999 IOM report could not 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 by way of a medical inhaler or vaporizer. Additionally, the report also recommended the compassionate use of marijuana under strict medical supervision. Furthermore, it urged more funding in the investigation of the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids.
What exactly stands in the way of clarifying the questions raised by the IOM report? Medical authorities do not appear to be thinking about having another review. There’s limited data available and whatever can be obtained is biased towards safety issues on the adverse 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. Because of the complicated legalities involved, very few pharmaceutical companies are buying cannabinoid research. In many cases, it is unclear how to define medical marijuana as advocated and opposed by many groups. Does it only refer to 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 on the market are really expensive, pushing people towards the less expensive cannabinoid in the form of marijuana. Obviously, the issue is further clouded by conspiracy theories concerning the pharmaceutical industry and drug regulators.