Marijuana can be called pot, grass and weed but its formal name is in fact 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 potential for abuse and haven’t any proven medical use. Through the years several studies declare 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 professionals 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 did not provide a clear cut yes or no answer. The contrary camps of the medical marijuana issue often cite the main report within 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 issues that support why medical marijuana should 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 once the all natural and organic are very important health buzzwords, a naturally occurring herb like marijuana may 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. buy weed online amsterdam A couple of studies showed that THC, a marijuana component is beneficial 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), a significant component of marijuana, has been shown to have antipsychotic, anticancer and antioxidant properties. Other cannabinoids have now been shown to stop high intraocular pressure (IOP), a significant risk factor for glaucoma. Drugs that have substances present in marijuana but have now been synthetically manufactured in the laboratory have now been approved by the US FDA. One of these is Marinol, an antiemetic agent indicated for nausea and vomiting connected with cancer chemotherapy. Its ingredient is dronabinol, an artificial 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. 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 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 are able to take action, 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) Lack of 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 benefits should outweigh the risks for this to be viewed 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 can be a long shot. According to 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 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 be easy to get at 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 if there is any future of marijuana as a medication, it lies in its isolated components, the cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives. To totally characterize different aspects of marijuana would cost so long and money that the costs of the medications which will come out of it could be too high. Currently, no pharmaceutical company seems interested in investing money to isolate more therapeutic components from marijuana beyond what is 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 for example cocaine; nevertheless it cannot be denied that there’s a possibility of substance abuse connected with marijuana. It has been demonstrated by a few studies as summarized in the IOM report.
(4) Lack of a secure delivery system. The most frequent form of delivery of marijuana is through smoking. Considering the existing 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’s only addressing the outward indications 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 just as well as well as better, without the medial side effects and danger of abuse connected with marijuana.
The 1999 IOM report couldn’t settle the debate about medical marijuana with scientific evidence offered at that time. The report definitely discouraged the usage of smoked marijuana but gave a nod towards marijuana use via 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 investigation of the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids.
So what stands in the way of clarifying the questions raised by the IOM report? The 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 as a result of limited funding and strict regulations. Due to the complicated legalities involved, very few pharmaceutical companies are investing in cannabinoid research. Oftentimes, it’s not yet determined how exactly 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 on the market are incredibly expensive, pushing people towards the less expensive cannabinoid in the form of marijuana. Obviously, the issue is further clouded by conspiracy theories relating to the pharmaceutical industry and drug regulators.