The medical community has increasingly been implementing medicinal marijuana into its practices for pain relief and therapy. Marijuana is made up of sixty cannabinoids, two of which have been seen to aid in medicine. These two cannabinoids are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (Vargo Cavalet, 2016). Both of these have had positive effects on patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (Betthauser, Pilz, & Vollmer, 2015). Not just helping people with PTSD, medicinal marijuana has also been seen to benefit patients with nausea, HIV, seizures, glaucoma, and Alzheimer’s (Vargo Cavalet, 2016). Therefore, several studies have shown that marijuana can benefit patients diagnosed with certain conditions and disorders, so medicinal marijuana should be legalized to help these affected individuals live their lives to the fullest.
A Doctor’s Perspective
An expert in medicinal marijuana, Dustin Sulak – a doctor – has dealt with patients who have used marijuana as treatment and pain relief, and he’s seen results that should persuade people to support legalizing this drug in the medical setting. Sulak has prescribed many forms of marijuana to many of his patients with different ailments and disorders, and he’s seen that its decreased the amount of prescriptions needed as well as the pain that his patients suffer from (Vaida, 2014). Moreover, Sulak has described, which fits into the greater context of what worldwide research has found, that his patients with spasms have suffered less pain, and that marijuana enabled his patients with inflammatory bowel disease to eat again (Vaida, 2014). Sulak says that the process of seeing his patients “at death’s door turn around dramatically” is an amazing sight to see and speaks to the untapped ability of medicinal marijuana.
How the Patients Feel
A survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine discovered that eighty percent of doctors had positive opinions of medicinal marijuana and that they’d approve of using it. In California, a state that’s been at the forefront of the legalizing medicinal marijuana debate, ninety-two percent of patients agree that medicinal marijuana made their symptoms better such as chronic pain, arthritis, cancer, and migraines (Ingraham, 2014). In Central Florida, a boy, whose been homebound for 4 years and sick for 8 years with stomach spasms and osteoporosis, received a treatment of medicinal marijuana and his conditions became better. The medication actually helped the boy finish his entire meal, and his mom described it as “amazing” because the food stayed in his body longer than for over a year (“A mother of a,” n.d.). The mom also describes how the medication helped her boy relax and not get sick in an eight-hour car ride. This is only one of the many instances of medicinal marijuana benefitting someone with a serious illness, and legalizing it would only increase the exposure to these types of people and help them get better.
Marijuana has a history of being vilified, and many kids have been taught that it’s a “gateway” drug, which means that doing it leads to addiction and a greater possibility of doing other types of drugs. However, the Journal of School Health published a study that showed that marijuana is not a gateway drug, and that the more “damaging” drug was alcohol (Scharff, 2014). According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, marijuana only lags behind alcohol and tobacco for the title of most popular recreational drug; around 24 million people have used this marijuana, and 14 million use it regularly (Scharff, 2014). Even so, according to Dr. Karen Van Gundy, “marijuana is not the most common, and is rarely the first illicit drug used” (Scharff 2014).
While many claim that legalizing medicinal marijuana would lead to more recreational use, which would in turn lead to other drug use, that notion is simply not true. When looking at all the facts, it’s clear that marijuana isn’t a gateway drug, and that there are other more severe drugs that should be given more attention. Even so, some studies even show that marijuana may actually be beneficial for opiate addicts as well as addicts of other more severe drugs (Reiman, 2009). So while many will keep on saying that marijuana harms kids and should be banned outright, the public seems to be coming to its senses in terms of marijuana for pain relief and other therapies.
Today, more states are passing laws to legalize medicinal marijuana, and they’re also recognizing that it’s not the type of drug characterized in the 70s as “dangerous” and life-threatening. Currently, there are 29 states with legal medicinal marijuana including D.C., and the movement seems to be growing. More recently in the 2016 election, five out of nine states decided to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes (so not only for medical reasons). Currently, there are seven states who have made marijuana legal for recreational use. However, there are still many people who seem marijuana as a threat and want it to be restricted, and this will be a recurring debate as time progresses. The current justice department seems to be opposed to legalizing marijuana, medicinally and recreationally. While ninety-four percent of voters approved of medicinal marijuana in an April Quinnipiac poll, some politicians seem to believe that marijuana is part of this historic drug epidemic that the U.S. is seeing. Fortunately, marijuana doesn’t kill people, and the drug epidemic that should be given more attention is the opioid crisis, which has killed people in the double digits per day. America is one of the last countries on earth to have such rigid restrictions against marijuana, and other developed countries in the west such as Germany has already given medicinal marijuana the thumbs up. If marijuana was legalized in the U.S., there would be an uptick in the number of conditions saved per day, and people would be able to have a better option for therapy and healing. Thus, it’s time to give the American people what they want and legalize medicinal marijuana while also cracking down on malicious drugs such as opioids.
- Betthauser, K., Pilz, J., & Vollmer, L. E. (2015). Use and effects of cannabinoids in military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 72(15), 1279-1284. doi:10.2146/ajhp140523
- Ingraham, C. (2014, October 01). 92% of patients say medical marijuana works. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/10/01/92-of- patients-say-medical-marijuana-works/?utm_term=.aced30a18145
- Reiman, A. (2009). Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs. Harm Reduction Journal,6(1), 35. doi:10.1186/1477-7517-6-35
- Sentinel, O. (2016, December 09). A mother of a medical marijuana patient shares her story. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from http://www.orlandosentinel.com/health/vital- signs/92092839-132.html
- Taite, R. (2014, August 26). Marijuana: The Gateway Drug Myth. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ending-addiction-good/201408/marijuana-the- gateway-drug-myth
- Vaida, B. (2014, March 3). Medical Marijuana: What the Research Shows. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/features/medical-marijuana- research-web#1
- Vargo Cavalet, J. (2016). The Highs and Lows of Medical Marijuana. Clinician Reviews, 26(10), 40-53.