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Marijuana, or cannabis, is a controversial subject when talk of legalization is in the air. Many people believe marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes, such as in prescriptions and for the use of medicinal drugs but not for recreational use. There are many benefits of marijuana when used medically, but there are also many risks when it is not properly regulated. Regulations would include prescriptions with select dosages, doctor visits, and more. Many might say these simple regulations are far too “simple” to be an appropriate solution for the improper use of marijuana.
If medicinal marijuana is made legal with the condition of regulations in mind, many questions about the regulations will arise. The most common question usually regards what type of regulations would be put forth to manage marijuana. An example is the prescription, Accutane or isotretinoin, which helps with acne but can also cause serious birth defects; this prescription is heavily regulated by the government. Some regulations include birth control, a signed letter of abstinence, monthly doctor visits, and monthly pregnancy tests. A month before isotretinoin can be prescribed. The patient must consult with their doctor, and if the doctor advises the patient to take Accutane, the patient must take a pregnancy test and the results must be negative. A month later, the process requires the patient to have routine blood work done, set up another doctor’s appointment, get the doctor to approve the prescription, take a short test about isotretinoin, and pass all the tests. Then they can go to the pharmacy and pick up the prescription within a certain window of time. The process is repeated each month until the patient’s acne has cleared away or for six months, whichever comes first. Then a month after treatment has ceased, the patient has to return to the doctor’s office for one last pregnancy test. If regulations similar to these were placed on medical marijuana, the people who need access to it for legitimate medical reasons will have access to it, and the people who do not need to access it and just want to use it for recreational use will not have access to it.
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There are many diseases medicinal marijuana can treat such as cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), multiple sclerosis, and seizures and epilepsy. When treating cancer, marijuana combined with radiation can increase the chances of killing cancer cells, and marijuana itself can also slow down the progression of some cancers. PTSD is a serious disease mainly impacting veterans, but studies have shown that marijuana can calm down veterans and reduce the reality of flashbacks and night terrors. Multiple sclerosis causes speech difficulties, severe fatigue, and impairment of muscle coordination; when treated with cannabis, the patient’s muscles can relax and may reduce pain. Marijuana can prevent seizures caused by epilepsy, mainly found in adults and elderly people, and Dravet syndrome in children, and it is also believed to have neuroprotective properties, though not many studies have been undertaken. The diseases mentioned above are only a few examples of the many diseases that medical marijuana can treat when properly regulated. However, there are diseases that medical marijuana cannot treat such as cardiac disease; there is a possibility that marijuana could enhance symptoms like high blood pressure, palpitations, and syncope. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease could be treated with medical marijuana, but it is not advised as marijuana may enhance the effects of the symptoms. Many diseases can be treated with medical marijuana, but there are some that should not be.
The first regulation for medicinal cannabis would be regular doctor appointments, either once a week, once every other week, or once a month. Regular doctor appointments allow the doctor to monitor the patient for positive or negative changes. For example, patients on Accutane may experience positive changes such as clear or mostly clear skin, as well as possible negative changes such as dry skin, chapped lips, and irritability. Positive changes for patients being treated by medical marijuana could be the healing of many different diseases as mentioned above, and the possible negative changes could include depression or slight mental alterations. This is why it should not be used for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.
The second regulation would be the dosage of medical marijuana. The patient’s disease determines how many milligrams or grams the doses would be. Dosage would be regulated to prevent patients from using a month’s worth of the prescription within two weeks. To regulate this, mandatory blood tests before the doctor appointment would allow the doctor to monitor how often and when the patient is taking the prescription. In a medical marijuana patient’s bloodstream, there will be traces of the drug, with decreasing amounts the longer it has been since the last dose. Therefore, if a patient uses a month’s worth of marijuana in two weeks, the doctor will be able to identify this based on the drug trace in the patient’s bloodstream and how frequently the patient administers the drug.
If patients were not following the proper guidelines and regulations for medical marijuana, doctors would have the ability to cease treatment. If doctors observed that a patient was having an adverse effect to the medical marijuana, they could halt treatment. Furthermore, based on blood work, the doctor can identify if the patient is using the prescription in the correct dosages. If a patient is not administering the marijuana as instructed or if they are selling the prescription, the doctor could discontinue treatment. It is crucial that doctors have the ability to stop prescribing medicinal marijuana if they see fit.
Many people believe that medical marijuana should not be legalized and that even if it were, the regulations would be insufficient. Critics argue that regulations could not control the adverse side effects of medical marijuana such as a high or psychosis. The two main components of marijuana are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD); THC causes the high, while CBD is responsible for healing. THC and CBD have an inverse relationship: as the quantity of one increases, the other decreases. The more THC in marijuana, the less CBD, so when a person administers a dose of recreational marijuana with high levels of THC and low levels of CBD, they experience a high. However, if a patient administers a dose of medicinal marijuana with low levels of THC and high levels of CBD, they receive healing without the high.
Many more regulations, such as the ones listed above, would need to be in place to properly regulate medicinal cannabis, but these regulations would be a start to giving help to the people who need it. Medicinal marijuana can help those who need it, and the regulations will keep marijuana out of the hands of the people who do not need it. Many arguments suggest that medicinal marijuana could not be regulated in ways such as the regulations listed above, or that the regulations are too “simple” to be a proper solution, but sometimes the simplest solutions are the best solutions.
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