Legalization of Cannabis for Medical Use - Medicine Essay Example
Legalization of Cannabis for Medical Use
Cannabis has been used in therapeutic purposes for several centuries already, but during the previous century its use have been strictly limited, as this substance became a subject of misuse and abuse - Legalization of Cannabis for Medical Use introduction. Since the use of cannabis as a medication was forbidden in the U.S in 1937 (Medicinal Marijuana: the Struggle for Legalization, 1997), the continuous struggle has been led between the supporters and the opponents of using cannabis for treatment of certain conditions.
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Marijuana, which is another name for this drug, more widespread than the word cannabis is defined as a “…preparation made from the dried flower clusters and leaves of the cannabis plant, usually smoked or eaten to induce euphoria.” in an entry on the Free Dictionary Website.
It’s prominent that almost all of the definitions of cannabis and marijuana that can be found in the dictionaries, encyclopedias or throughout the Web don’t mention about the medical usage of this drug. Cannabis is considered to occupy the fourth place in the list of drugs most often used in the U.S and Europe, outrun only by alcohol, caffeine and nicotine (State Marijuana Initiatives Open New Fronts in Debate Over Illegal Drugs, 1997). Thus cannabis is mostly seen as a recreational drug, despite of the proved medical efficiency it has. The authors of the article in British Medical Journal proved that “in discussions of the use of cannabis one of the biggest problems over the past few years has been the difficulty in separating the debate on the recreational use from that on the therapeutic use”. This is one of the main reasons for which the debates led on the medical use of cannabis in the U.S are so severe.
The medical use of marijuana by human beings was first time registered in the Chinese pharmacopoeia in 2727 BC. It was allowed to usage in the U.S until the federal government prohibited it by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. In the 1970th The Controlled Substance Act established five categories of schedules depending on the danger of the drug. Marijuana was put in the 1st Schedule, to the drugs with the high potential for abuse. Marijuana was said to be a drug with “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” (The Medicinal Marijuana Story 1937-1997, 1997). In 1975 The Compassionate Investigative New Drug (IND) program was created for to provide some patients the possibility to get this substance from the government, but it was discontinued in 1992 due to the flow of applications from people suffering from AIDS. In 1990 The California Drug Advisory Board recommends legal cultivation of marijuana. In 1996 in California the first medical marijuana law was passed which was Proposition 215. (Supreme Court Rejects Attack on Medical Marijuana, 2003). This law protected patients who used marijuana at a prescription and their doctors from the statewide penalties. In June 2005 there were 11 states that passed similar laws (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington). Ten other states, including the District of Columbia have symbolic medical marijuana laws, as they permit its medical use, but still have penalties for the patients who use it, and doctors, who recommend or prescribe it. (Medical Marijuana, 2005).
Numerous opinions exist about the effect of cannabis on human’s health, and about the consequences of its legalization. The supporters of marijuana legalization for medical purposes prove that it helps to reduce the unwanted symptoms of migraines, glaucoma, AIDS, depression and many other illnesses. In the same time, the opponents point that marijuana is suspected to cause mental illnesses and induce addiction.
Nevertheless, numerous researches existthat prove the effectiveness of using cannabis for treating the illnesses listed. Smoking marijuana really relives the symptoms of various illnesses, including even the nausea in pregnant woman (Medical Marijuana: a Surprising Solution to Severe Morning Sickness, 2004). It’s obvious that lots of people still buy marijuana for to relieve the symptoms of their diseases despite of the existing laws. So, it would be logical to legalize cannabis for medical purposes, as it’s helpful and people still use it regardless of the fact it’s forbidden. Let’s also recall that cannabis is one of the leaders of the list of drugs used by Americans. The current research displayed, that 70 millions of Americans have tried marijuana (Medical Marijuana’s Legal Battle: Eight States Okay the Medical Use of Marijuana, 2001). So it would be unfair to refuse the sick people the thing that the healthy ones use frequently.
The supporters of legalization of marijuana for medical purposes give numerous reasons in favor of the subject. One of main their theses is that cannabis is a drug that doesn’t induce addiction unlike lots of the painkillers and anti-depressants the doctors prescribe their patients for the illnesses that could be treated by marijuana, do. (Medical Marijuana: a Surprising Solution to Severe Morning Sickness, 2004).
Some of the supporters of the idea also claim that marijuana can be used for to relieve the difficulties the pregnant woman have. It is a widespread persuasion built on the research that was carried out in 1968 that smoking marijuana can harm the fetus, but later researches disprove this statement, as they say that cannabis doesn’t cause harm when used by a pregnant woman.
The most recent studies conducted by the University of Saskatchewan, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation proved the hypothesis that cannabis can also be used for treating some psychiatric problems, like the anxiety and depression. The thing is that the substances similar to the ones marijuana contains, were found to stimulate the growth of the sells in regions of the brain that are associated with depression and anxiety (Jiang, et al, 2005). The supporters of this position understand that the medical use of cannabis should be limited, as there are people with the pre-existing risk of developing psychiatric problems who shouldn’t be treated with it. It’s normal, as all the medications have their contraindications.
Cannabis has been considered to be a drug for decades nowadays, thus lots of people still cannot agree to legalization of it even for medical purposes, as they are guided by the outdated research proving cannabis is very dangerous. Some of them are even afraid that legalization of cannabis may lead to legalization of the other, harder illegal drugs. Also the statistic exists that proves that lots of the drug addicts begin from marijuana and then pass to the more “serious” drugs.
Lots of the opponents of cannabis legalization for therapeutic purposes are still sure that marijuana indices addiction. They also claim that the effects of marijuana are similar to the effect of the hard drugs as are the processes that take place in the human’s body after using it. (Drug Addiction: Marijuana: Harder Than Thought?, 1997).
Some of the opponents of the usage of cannabis also prove that it induces psychiatric problems, especially when taken at an early age. ” A study of 2,437 young people aged 14 to 24 found that of those who smoked cannabis regularly and had a pre-existing risk of psychosis, 50 per cent developed psychotic symptoms over the four- year period. This was twice the rate among those who did not use cannabis and more than three times higher than among those who were neither vulnerable nor took the drug. “(Cannabis link to psychosis depends on age of first use, 2004).
The debate is let on the affect of cannabis on the psychological condition of the patients, and the effect of this substance on the fetus. Also it is questioned whether the marijuana induces addiction, or no. Most of those questions are answered in favor of the position of the cannabis-legalization supporters.
Cannabis is a substance that can relief the symptoms of the numerous illnesses, and it can even cure some of them. So it’s obvious, it is foolish to reject it just because of the old persuasion that is not confirmed by the scientific facts. Cannabis should be legalized for to allow people suffering from pain, nausea, glaucoma and many other illnesses get the effective and relatively safe drug.
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Horn, K. Althoff, S. Nachatelo, M. “Medical Marijuana’s Legal Battle: Eight States Okay the Medical Use of Marijuana”. Natural Health, 2001
Jiang, W. et.al. “Cannabinoids promote embryonic and adult hippocampus neurogenesis and produce anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects”. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2005
Laurance, J. “Cannabis Link to Psychosis Depends on Age of First Use”. The Independent (London), 2004
Notcutt, W. et all. “Improving the Debate on Cannabis”. British Medical Journal, 2000
Wickelgren, D.“Drug Addiction: Marijuana: Harder Than Thought?” Science, 1997
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