Medical Marijuana: A Not So New Form Of Medical Treatment

1226 words - 5 pages

Marijuana usage for the purpose of medical treatment has been a debated issue in many states and Countries around the world. The United Kingdom and Canada have both adopted laws that are directed at protecting patients and doctors from prosecution due to possession and usage of marijuana for medical purposes. Australia has passed laws, but has not put them into effect, and the United States has not made any allowances, leaving marijuana in the same category with other illegal drugs and allowing for prosecution if a person is found to be growing, possessing or using marijuana, regardless of the reasons. According to Dresser, there are currently fourteen states that have taken it upon themselves to enact laws that allow for the prescribing and use of medical marijuana, California being the most liberal in terms of allowed usages (7). While medical conditions that allow marijuana to be prescribed vary from state to state, Hall and Degenhardt write that accepted treatments generally include issues such as nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, wasting due to HIV and aids, movement disorders and muscle spasticity disorders (690-692). Although many government and public agencies disagree on the medical benefits that marijuana may provide in the relief of chronic symptoms, marijuana seems to be growing in popularity among doctors and the patients that benefit from its use and a vast number of people feel it should be legalized for medical conditions across America.
The use of marijuana for medical purposes is not a new issue. Prior to the twentieth century, marijuana was often used for treatment of symptoms caused by medical issues in both the United States and throughout Europe, Asia and India. In their report, Hall & Degenhardt state that it was not until modern pharmaceutical drugs were created in the early twentieth century as well as international treaties concerning importing and distribution of drugs, that marijuana was classified as an illegal narcotic and put aside by medical practitioners for more modern treatments (689). They also report that in laboratory testing on animals and controlled testing on humans, that cannabinoids are often effective as analgesics and helpful in relieving post operative pain on the same level as codeine, as well as relieving nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite and can reduce muscle spasms and pain related to MS as well as “abnormal skeletal movements related to Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome” (690-691). While medical marijuana has its benefits, it is not without side effects. Like many other medications that are in use for relief of similar symptoms, marijuana can reduce motor skills, making driving and operating equipment dangerous. Marijuana has also been linked to panic attack, depression and anxiety with prolonged use, but remains a viable and preferred method of treatment by its supporters (Hall & Degenhardt 691).
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