Marijuana is also called pot, grass and weed but its formal name is actually cannabis. It originates from the leaves and flowers of the plant Cannabis sativa. It is recognized as an illegal substance in the US and many countries and possession of marijuana is a crime punishable by law. The FDA classifies marijuana as Schedule I, substances which possess a high potential for abuse and have no proven medical use. Over the years several studies declare that some substances present in marijuana have medicinal use, especially in terminal diseases such as for instance cancer and AIDS. This started a fierce debate over the professionals and cons of the usage of medical marijuana. To be in 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 give a clear cut yes or no answer. The contrary camps of the medical marijuana issue often cite part of the report within their advocacy arguments. However, although the report clarified several things, it never settled the controversy once and for all.
Let’s go through the problems that support why medical marijuana ought to be legalized.
(1) Marijuana is a naturally occurring herb and has been used from South America to Asia being an herbal medicine for millennia. In this very day and age when the all natural and organic are important health buzzwords, a naturally occurring herb like marijuana may be more inviting 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 treat pain. weed online kaufen A couple of studies indicated that THC, a marijuana component works well in treating chronic pain experienced by cancer patients. However, studies on acute pain such as for instance 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 common unwanted effects of cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Some researchers are convinced that cannabis has some therapeutic potential against neurological diseases such as for instance multiple sclerosis. Specific compounds extracted from marijuana have strong therapeutic potential. Cannobidiol (CBD), a significant component of marijuana, has been shown to own antipsychotic, anticancer and antioxidant properties. Other cannabinoids have already been shown to prevent high intraocular pressure (IOP), a significant risk factor for glaucoma. Drugs which contain ingredients present in marijuana but have already been synthetically manufactured in the laboratory have already been approved by the US FDA. One example is Marinol, an antiemetic agent indicated for nausea and vomiting connected with cancer chemotherapy. Its ingredient is dronabinol, a synthetic delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
(3) Among the 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. For instance, 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 in addition to 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 utilized in many developed countries The argument of if they could do it, 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 may also be allowing exemptions.
Now here will be the arguments against medical marijuana.
(1) Not enough data on safety and efficacy. Drug regulation is dependant on safety first. The safety of marijuana and its components still has to first be established. Efficacy only comes second. Even if marijuana has some beneficial health effects, the benefits should outweigh the risks because of it to be viewed for medical use. Unless marijuana is demonstrated to be better (safer and more effective) than drugs currently available available in 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 just how to put it to use as well as if it is effective, doesn’t benefit anyone. Simply having access, with no safety, efficacy, and adequate use information doesn’t help patients.
(2) Unknown chemical components. Medical marijuana can only be easily accessible and affordable in herbal form. Like other herbs, marijuana falls under the group 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 when there is any future of marijuana as a medicine, it is based on its isolated components, the cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives. To completely characterize different the different parts of marijuana would cost so much time and money that the expense of the medications that will come from it would be too high. Currently, no pharmaceutical company seems interested in investing money to isolate more therapeutic components from marijuana beyond what is already obtainable in the market.
(3) Possibility of abuse. Marijuana or cannabis is addictive. It might not be as addictive as hard drugs such as for instance cocaine; nevertheless it cannot be denied that there surely is a possibility of substance abuse connected with marijuana. This has been demonstrated by a few studies as summarized in the IOM report.
(4) Not enough a safe delivery system. The most common form of delivery of marijuana is through smoking. Considering the existing trends in anti-smoking legislations, this form of delivery won’t be approved by health authorities. Reliable and safe delivery systems in the form of vaporizers, nebulizers, or inhalers are still at the testing stage.
(5) Symptom alleviation, not cure. Even if marijuana has therapeutic effects, it is only addressing the symptoms of certain diseases. It does not treat or cure these illnesses. Given that it is effective against these symptoms, you will find already medications available which work equally well as well as better, without the 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 through a medical inhaler or vaporizer. Additionally, 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 is limited data available and whatever can be acquired 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 due to limited funding and strict regulations. Because of the complicated legalities involved, very few pharmaceutical companies are buying cannabinoid research. Oftentimes, it is unclear just how to define medical marijuana as advocated and opposed by many groups. Does it only make reference to 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 available in the market are extremely expensive, pushing people towards the cheaper cannabinoid in the form of marijuana. Obviously, the issue is further clouded by conspiracy theories relating to the pharmaceutical industry and drug regulators.