Theuse of Cannabis sativa (marijuana) and its legalization represents agreat controversy strongly founded on the political and scientificbasis. According to Rubens (p. 121-131), both the scientific andpolitical sides conflict, thereby shaping the current debate on themedical use of the marijuana. Consequently, laws controlling ordecriminalizing of marijuana use has been enforced in many Americanstates. However, despite the existence of these strict laws,marijuana continues to be widely used while its effects continue toinfluence the economic, medical and psychological well-being of manyAmericans. Also, many studies have focused on the legal andpsychological aspect of using marijuana. With the few that havefocused on the potential of its use as a drug for chronically illpatients, results have generated hope for effective treatment ofchronic conditions. Medicalmarijuana should be legalized only in controlled environment becauseit possess great opportunities to heal chronic diseases
Thepharmacology of marijuana
Traditionally,marijuana has been used in many ancient societies for culturalmedicine, religious rituals, and in alleviating symptoms of somediseases to enhance treatment (Lusk, Teresia, and Raylon 4). Amongthese uses, the recreational purpose has been more influential thanthe use in medicine and rituals. In this case, the pharmacology ofmarijuana began a long time ago (Lynne-Landsman 1). However, thecentral focus on the plant for potential medicinal use began around1864 when the primary formulation of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) wasscientifically isolated for use in medical studies (Lusk, Teresia,and Raylon 4). Consequently, understanding on the plants chemical andbiological characteristics, the mode of influence to various bodycells, and potential use in the medical field increased.
Theamount of THC in Marijuana plant is significantly small and exists astetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). Subjecting this acid to heattriggers a catalytic response that results in the chemical conversionof THCA into THC (Lusk, Teresia, and Raylon 4). This explains thereason behind smoking, vaporization, and boiling to generatemarijuana’s reactive components. The presence of THC in the body isfollowed by an enzymatic breakdown in the liver to further release 11–hydroxy-tetrahydro cannabinol (11-OH-THC) and 11-nor-9-carboxy-delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THCCOOH), the most activemetabolic agents.
Afterinjection, these chemicals reach the central nerves system and otherbody cells. Consequently, the user experience euphoria, insensitivityto pain, and cognitive deficits due to impairment of motor andcognitive elements of the brain (Leyton 2). The decline of cognitiveability and the euphoric excitement or delight marijuana userexperience increases the risk of accidents, permanent mentalinstability and some diseases such as schizophrenia.
Basedon recent studies, marijuana negative effects are serious than mostpeople assume. According to Leyton (2-3), heavy use of marijuana isassociated with psychological disorders and can have many seriouseffects than steroids, ketamine, and hallucinogenic substances.Furthermore, marijuana use has increased the economic costs toindividuals and placed big burdens to the America’s criminaljustice system.
Onthe other hand, marijuana has been demonstrated in different pastclinical testing environment to be useful in the treatment ofglaucoma, nausea, and vomiting (Lynne-Landsman 122). Consequently,different organizations including National Institute of Health (NIH)and Institute of Medicine (IOM) have developed reports recommendingfurther studies on the medical use of marijuana using the availabledata. In this case, there is a significant probability of marijuanastudies yielding medicinal solutions to some health conditions.
Whilethe negative effects of marijuana abuse are well known, thepotentiality of its use in medical settings continues to be promisingwith each new research study. Such knowledge and awareness have leftthe Americans divided into groups based on their viewpoints on themedical use of marijuana. However, the progress in research ishindered by possibilities of drug abuse and laws that illegalize druguse.
Marijuanause and the law
Thelegalization of marijuana use is characterized by medication andrecreational purposes. Currently, the medication use is allowed in 18states and Washington DC under the provision so of various legalinstruments. Consequently, some local penalties for medicinal useshave been removed to pave the way for research in search of treatmentand medication of chronically ill patients (Rubens 123). The Acts inmany American states allow clinically ill patients to possess and usemarijuana under strict doctor’s prescriptions.
Afterthe discovery of the medically important marijuana chemicalproperties in 1864, the physicians were allowed to treat patientsusing the drug. Due to increased popularity in medicine, theMarijuana Tax Act of 1937 was introduced to discourage the use andhandling in recreational settings. In this case, the act did notdecriminalize the use. However, this was just as start because, in1970, the US Congress developed and passed the Controlled SubstanceAct (Rubens 123-125). The law led to the grouping of drugs andmarijuana was placed in Category I together with the heroine.
Manyother laws have been enacted leading to complete illegalization ofmarijuana. However, with increased discoveries of its potential useas a drug in medicine, the government of America has faced pressuresnecessitating legalization. Although it is projected thatlegalization can increase violence, unemployment, economicconstraints and mental health issues, some states have legalizedmarijuana. California was the first in 1996, and it opened the doorfor many other states that have legalized medical marijuana.
Medicinalproperties of marijuana
Despitethe obstacles that laws pose to research on medical marijuana,numerous findings have been achieved. Past and some current studieshave focused on investigating the potential of using marijuana tocure or treat HIV/AIDs and Cancer (Lusk et al. 5). In these studies,different effects of marijuana chemicals have demonstrated somepossibilities, though not enough to declare sure medication. However,a significant number of studies have revealed the effectiveness ofthe drug in the treatment of muscle spasms, sleep improvement,anxiety disorders and chronic pain.
MedicalMarijuana improves the quality of life among the individuals inpalliative care surviving chronic illness or terminally illconditions. The reason for its use is that many drugs used to treatsuch patients are highly toxic, and therefore, advance the disease orsymptoms. THC, on the other hand, is less toxic. Besides, no lethaldose of THC has been identified in marijuana use. Also, a patientexperiencing harsh side effect such as in cancer treatment can begiven a dose of dronabinol and nabilone, the popular forms of THC.
Marijuanadrugs help reduces chronic pain among the patients with cancer. Also,most studies focusing on the beneficial traits of marijuanaestablished that nabiximol can be used in treating spasticity andneuropathic pain among the patients struggling with cancer and sicklecell anemia (Lusk et al. 6). Moreover, despite numerous studiesestablishing the positive association between marijuana and mentaldisorders, several others have found that marijuana drug helps treatseveral and popular disorders. For instance, Lusk et al. (5-7)confirm that marijuana is effective in treating loss of appetite,depression, insomnia and blood pressure. Also, the THC has been foundto reduce the plaque in the blood vessel that causes coronaryarterial disease.
However,despite such and many other potential medical use of marijuana, theside effects are widely known. Even in the established medicalprocedures using marijuana, the prolonged use can have negativeimpacts on the patients. For instance, long-term use of marijuanaamong the patients with the clinical disease can result in dependencythat leads to cognition impairment, weight loss, and liver problems.Also, using marijuana decreases the intelligence quotients among theyouths (Lynne-Landsman 13). As a result, students may acquire lowgrades at school. Other negative impacts of marijuana use aredecreased productivity at work that can lead to unemployment,antisocial behaviors, and mental disorders (madness).
Theuse of medical marijuana posed both risks and valuable opportunities.Most recent studies have focused on utilizing the benefits ofmarijuana while at the same time minimizing its effects in theAmerican population. Therefore, there is need to develop medicalprotocols to guide marijuana use. Such protocols should allow the useof marijuana to treat terminally ill patients where there is nobetter alternative while at the same time discouraging the use ofsuch drug among the vulnerable populations. Vulnerable populationincludes those who have increased the likelihood of extending themarijuana use even after their recovery from a condition thatnecessitated the use in the first place. Also, such drugs should notbe prescribed to a single patient for long to prevent developingdependency on the drug. Therefore, the government should reform theexisting laws and develop new ones that advocate for the safe andappropriate use of medical marijuana while at the same timepreventing illegal sources and use of the substance. Finally,research should continue to expand the existing body of knowledge onmarijuana, and potential to heal or treat major diseases.
Leyton,Marco. "Legalizing Marijuana.” N.p., 2016. Print.
Lusk,Stephanie, Teresia Paul, and Raylon Wilson. "The PotentialImpact of the Legalization and Decriminalization of Marijuana on theVocational Rehabilitation Process. Why the Buzz?” N.p., 2015. Web.10 Dec. 2016.
Lynne-Landsman,Sarah D., Melvin D. Livingston, and Alexander C. Wagenaar. "Effectsof State Laws on Adolescent Marijuana Use".N.p., 2012. Print.
Rubens,Muni. "Political and Medical Views on and ItsFuture." SocialWork in Public Health.29.2 (2014): 121-131. Print.