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Marijuana has always been a much-discussed subject that has sparked heated discussions among experts and officials, in addition to a perpetual dialogue among family and associates. This is primarily due to the fact that people are still divided on whether cannabis should be legalized or not.
While many people are aware of the dangers of cannabis for recreational purposes, many states are pushing for the legalization of medical cannabis. Several studies of cannabinoid elements have revealed its medicinal qualities, which have further fueled the call for legalizing therapeutic weed.
How it works
Therapeutic marijuana refers to the treatment of a disease or symptom using the whole, unprocessed cannabis plant or its primary extracts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved or recognized the use of the cannabis plant as a medicine.
However, scientific studies of marijuana chemicals, called cannabinoids, have resulted in several FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. As the cannabis plant contains chemicals that could potentially treat a wide range of ailments or symptoms, many people are advocating for the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes. In several states, medicinal cannabis has already been legalized.
There are numerous health benefits associated with therapeutic marijuana. These have been scientifically proven in medical laboratories. Medicinal marijuana comes in a variety of forms. It can be smoked, vaporized, taken as a pill, or prepared as edible foods such as brownies, cookies, and chocolate bars (Sherani, Vakil, Upadhyay, Cervellione, & Babury, 2016).
The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, implying that it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. However, the idea that marijuana may have therapeutic uses is backed by solid science. The human body has the natural capacity to create its own cannabinoids, which are utilized in pain management.
The main psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It targets the CB1 receptor, a cannabinoid receptor located in the brain and in the nervous system, liver, kidney, and lungs. This receptor is activated to soothe the body’s response to pain and harmful chemicals.
In a placebo-controlled study published in the journal Neurology, Abrams and his colleagues found that marijuana is effective at alleviating neuropathic pain caused by damaged nerves in the body. Opiates, such as morphine, are not effective in treating neuropathic pain. Another study revealed that cannabis, in addition to opiates, provided significant levels of pain relief. Researchers at the American Academy of Neurology found that medicinal marijuana in pill or syrup form could reduce stiffness and muscle spasms. In addition, the therapy also reduced certain symptoms of pain associated with spasms, severe burning and numbness, and overactive bladder, according to another study (“Physicians present case for legalizing marijuana,” 2017).
One of the well-known effects of using marijuana is an increased appetite, which is helpful in stimulating hunger among HIV/AIDS patients and others with decreased appetite due to a medical condition or treatment. Medicinal marijuana is also frequently used to treat nausea induced by chemotherapy, although scientific studies of smoked marijuana are limited.
Two FDA-endorsed chemically modified types of THC, namely, dronabinol and nabilone, have been demonstrated to reduce chemotherapy-related nausea in cancer patients. Medical marijuana may also be used for treating glaucoma, a raised pressure in the eyeball that can lead to blindness. The American Cancer Society revealed that while marijuana can decrease intra-ocular pressure, it must be taken several times throughout the day to produce the desired effect.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis with medicinal benefits. Since it does not target the CB1 receptor, it does not leave people feeling stoned.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Translational Psychiatry, it was revealed that cannabidiol can be effective as a treatment for schizophrenia. In a study conducted at the University of Cologne, 42 patients were randomly assigned to receive either cannabidiol or amisulpride, a drug used for treating schizophrenia, for 28 days. When compared, clinical effects revealed no significant difference between the two treatments.
The following are the advantages of legalizing marijuana/cannabis:
The government generates more income from its legalization. While the black market has profited from selling this type of medication, the government is seeking ways to increase their income to fund developments such as building parks and street repairs. The legalization of cannabis diverts the profit from the black market to government funding to support future projects, with taxes imposed on marijuana sales used for the benefit of the public.
There is more effective law enforcement. Legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use allows police authorities to focus on other crimes. Though the implementation of cannabis law provisions will be monitored by police and key government agencies, law enforcement personnel can now shift their priorities towards other pressing matters.
There is a reduction in drug-related organized crime. Legalizing marijuana will decrease the amount of money used to support organized crime. It is believed that legalizing cannabis will discourage illegal sellers and reduce crimes related to drug trade.
There is wider access to the medicinal use of marijuana. This may be the second reason why pro-cannabis users are advocating for the legalization of marijuana. Medical cannabis has been reported to have significant positive effects on patients suffering from chronic pain, particularly those with cancer. While some health professionals recommend this, it has been challenging for patients to find a store that can supply them with cannabis. By legalizing marijuana, stores can be established as long as they comply with the rules imposed under the law. The availability of cannabis in approved medical marijuana dispensaries enables patients to access the medication.
Significant emphasis has been placed on the health benefits of legalizing cannabis, as it can help manage pain felt by patients suffering from nerve damage, trauma, and cancer. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active component of cannabis, alleviates pain. In addition to pain management, cannabis is touted for preventing health conditions related to Alzheimer’s disease among the elderly. THC is also believed to halt the growth of plaques in the brain (“Physicians Present Case for Legalizing Marijuana,” 2017).
Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy often experience nausea and vomiting. Administering cannabis helps them keep their food down. It is also believed to aid in the treatment of insomnia, glaucoma, asthma, lung cancer, and breast cancer.
Better substance control is another advantage of authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Illegal drugs have become prevalent in public scenes, most notably at rave parties, clubs, and concerts. Sadly, the lack of regulations for these substances leads some people with malicious intent to sell a different substance to imitate the effect of the intended drug, unbeknownst to the buyer. By legalizing cannabis, the user knows exactly what they are purchasing and the precise quantity given to them. Most street drugs, particularly the dangerous kind, don’t adhere to this standard.
Legalization comes with the opportunity for decision making. People have the right to make their own choices, including about drugs. Whether something is good or bad for us, it is at our discretion whether to use it or not. The legalization of marijuana allows people to gather enough information to make their own decisions, without the fear of prosecution.
It can reduce drug-related disputes about marijuana. Illegal drug trade often leads to sticky situations, such as personal conflicts or violent crimes. With illicit drugs, you can’t turn to the police to complain about a product dispute with a dealer. However, any dispute regarding the trade, use, manufacture, and distribution of marijuana can be legally resolved in a courtroom.
It can cause a loss of business among street drug dealers or illicit marijuana business vendors. Street dealers exploit their customers by selling marijuana at high prices. By standardizing the price of cannabis, it can prevent street dealers from charging exorbitant rates. Making marijuana readily available would mean a decrease in revenue for street dealers.
In conclusion, marijuana legalization has many benefits, especially on the medical side. What is significant in the legalization of marijuana is the focus on the implementation of laws governing cannabis legalization. This needs concerted efforts from legislators, health professionals, concerned authorities, and even local governments to protect society from the side effects of cannabis addiction and its other unwanted outcomes.
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