Medical Marijuana: Healthy Or Dangerous

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Weed, marijuana, hemp, cannabis, mary jane, devil’s lettuce, and so on. These are all different names for relatively the same thing. In this paper, I will state what marijuana is as well as the benefits and disadvantages of consuming marijuana. First starting with its history and how it became what it is known today as well as providing how it’s beneficial and how it can be harmful.

The most common name for cannabis used in today’s society is marijuana. The plant itself is separated by a few parts. To make the differences clear, hemp is the stalks, and marijuana and cannabis are words that mean the same thing. Cannabis and hemp were renamed marijuana because of their Mexican descent (Yoshiko, 2018). This was due to a century in a misinformation campaign designed by and to benefit the petrochemical pharmaceutical military-industrial transnational corporations for the elite ruling class (Standford, 2016). During this campaign, the anti-immigration sentiment was on the rise so a foreign name would give the word marijuana an automatic negative bias (Yoshiko, 2018). The reason for the cannabis prohibition was money, power, and the centralization of political and economic control. Why the prohibition was done was because hemp produced cheap fuel and fiber along with that it was naturally decentralized. Groups of people came together and started the narrative that marijuana was dangerous to further push the ideology that it had no purpose as well as no medical use. This allowed them to profit from the costly, capital-intensive petrochemical alternatives (Standford, 2016). Even though modern measures have been attempted to have society look down upon marijuana, the past shows that it has been beneficial.

The idea of marijuana being beneficial has been a popular belief among people for thousands of years. The first recorded evidence of marijuana being used as medicine was in 2,737 BCE (advanced holistic health). Even though marijuana is used as a medicine, as well as a drug, there has yet been no official recorded death from marijuana consumption (CMAJ, 2001). Interestingly, marijuana was used as a legal medicine in the United States until 1942. In fact, the American Medical Association strongly opposed prohibiting its use. Another reasoning behind making marijuana illegal as well as labeling it as a schedule one drug was due to Nixon. When the secret tapes Nixon held from the public eye were released, he stated in the tapes that “By God, we are going to hit the marijuana thing, and I want to hit it right square in the puss…I want to hit it, against legalization and all that sort of thing” (Downs, 2016). Clearly showing great disinterest in marijuana, it was classified as a schedule one drug.

Many people, including myself, agree that classifying marijuana as a schedule one drug is absurd. The basic definition for schedule one drugs used by the DEA is “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” With this definition, classifying marijuana as schedule one is wrong. Due to the Controlled substances Act, alcohol and cigarettes are not scheduled drugs. Even though marijuana is one hundred and fourteen times less dangerous than booze, marijuana is still deemed more dangerous in the eyes of the law (Ingraham, 2015). It is estimated that about 88,000 people die due to alcohol in some way shape or form (NIH). Alcohol has no medical value and can be highly addictive but yet it isn’t on the scheduling system. Though it is proven that alcohol can ruin people’s lives and those around them, the government still allows it to be legal. One reasoning why classifying marijuana as a schedule one drug is wrong would be because the FDA has approved one cannabis-derived product and three cannabis-related drug products. Healthcare professionals are allowed to prescribe these drugs as long as they are licensed healthcare providers (FDA, 2019). Along with the few approved FDA products, there are also two approved cannabinoids by the US Food and Drug Administration. These are dronabinol and nabilone; reducing vomiting and nausea that are associated with chemotherapy and increase appetite stimulation in wasting illnesses. One study has found that when marijuana is used for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis it was helpful. The study included six trials of 325 patients with chronic pain, 6 trials of 396 patients with neuropathic pain, and 12 trials that included 1600 patients with multiple sclerosis. Several of these trials had positive results, suggesting a high possibility of marijuana or cannabinoids correlating with pain relief (JAMA, 2015).

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According to a study published on Jan. 11 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, smoking up to a joint per day doesn’t decrease lung function. A study showed that occasional use of marijuana, such as a joint per day, has been associated with slight increases in lung flow rates as well as increases in lung volume. While the increase is minimal, this still shows that occasional use of marijuana isn’t harmful to the lungs and can be beneficial. The study, led by Mark Pletcher of the University of California, San Francisco, compared how smoke from marijuana and cigarettes differently affect people over the course of 20 years in a group of more than 5,000 adults. The study had found the basic findings with cigarettes, nothing new that we hadn’t previously known. However, marijuana was associated with increases in lung compacity when smoking one joint per day. The increase of lung capacity levels off when increase smoking occurs (Wanjek, 2012). With these findings, occasional smoking does not appear to have negative impacts on the respiratory system.

Separate compounds inside marijuana are beneficial, especially CBD. Marijuana is made up of two main compounds, THC and CBD. THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive chemical that gives the “high” and CBD, cannabidiol, which is a nonpsychoactive compound. At the molecular level, these two compounds are the same, but they have different arrangements causing different effects on the body. The body has its own endocannabinoids which are very similar to THC and CBD. Because of this, THC and CBD can interact with the body’s cannabinoids receptors. Both THC and CBD have similar health benefits, but they differ in some areas. Since CBD is a nonpsychoactive compound, people can get the benefits without the euphoric feeling caused by THC. CBD has been shown to help difficult-to-control forms of epilepsy, seizures, migraines, psychosis, and more (Holland, 2019). One particular form of childhood epilepsy called Dravet syndrome is almost impossible to control but responds dramatically to a CBD-dominant strain of marijuana called Charlotte’s Web (Grinspoon, 2018). THC helps increase appetite, muscle spasms, and more. Both CBD and THC help with pain, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. While THC is beneficial, it has side effects of increased heart rate, cottonmouth, problems with coordination, red eyes, slow reaction times, and temporary memory loss. None of these side effects are serious but should be taken into account when using THC (Holland, 2019). While no side effect was found in this study, other studies have found potential side effects due to chronic marijuana consumption.

Chronic marijuana consumption has been associated with schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders along with that, reported in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, THC may trigger psychosis (Wanjek, 2012). Other consequences of chronic cannabinoid exposure include tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal (Wilkinson and others, 2016). Increasing evidence suggests that early and heavy cannabis use and or exposure could increase the risk of developing a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia. However, most people who have used cannabis do not develop schizophrenia, and many people diagnosed with schizophrenia have never used cannabis (Madras, Kuhar, 2013, p 423-474). The earlier one starts to consume marijuana and frequently uses it have risks involving mental health issues. With that said, there are risks with literally anything you put in your body.

The use of marijuana has been debated for years. Is it healthy? Is it dangerous? Should we be concerned? From the research previously stated, there has yet to be an official overdose due to marijuana so it isn’t inherently dangerous by itself. Studies have shown that marijuana and its active components can be helpful if used responsibly. While there isn’t a direct correlation between mental disorders and chronic marijuana use, there is an increased risk of those disorders. With that, there are risks to anything and everything that is put inside and or exposed to the body. The argument that marijuana should be medical is becoming drastically more popular and will require more research in the future to figure out all of the possible effects. As of now with our current research, marijuana is not deadly and has shown to be beneficial in certain cases. That said, marijuana is not an end-all be-all for medicine. Since marijuana has been proven to help certain people with pain, seizures, epilepsy, and so on, why wouldn’t it be considered medical? 

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