Medical Marijuana — The actual Discussion Rages Upon
Marijuana can be called pot, grass and weed but its formal name is obviously cannabis. It comes from the leaves and flowers of the plant Cannabis sativa. It is known 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 don’t have any proven medical use. Over the years several studies claim that some substances found in marijuana have medicinal use, especially in terminal diseases such as cancer and AIDS. This started a fierce debate over the pros 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 didn’t give a clear cut yes or no answer. The opposite camps of the medical marijuana issue often cite the main report in their advocacy arguments. However, even though report clarified several things, it never settled the controversy once and for all.
Let’s consider the conditions that support why medical marijuana should be legalized.
(1) Marijuana is a naturally occurring herb and has been used from South America to Asia as an herbal medicine for millennia. In this day and age once the all natural and organic are important health buzzwords, a naturally occurring herb like marijuana could 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 can be used as analgesic, e.g. to treat pain. weed online bestellen deutschland A couple of studies revealed that THC, a marijuana component is effective in treating chronic pain experienced by cancer patients. However, studies on acute pain such as 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 normal negative effects of cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Some researchers are convinced that cannabis has some therapeutic potential against neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Specific compounds extracted from marijuana have strong therapeutic potential. Cannobidiol (CBD), an important part of marijuana, has been shown to have antipsychotic, anticancer and antioxidant properties. Other cannabinoids have been shown to stop high intraocular pressure (IOP), an important risk factor for glaucoma. Drugs that have ingredients present in marijuana but have been synthetically stated in the laboratory have been approved by the US FDA. One of these is Marinol, an antiemetic agent indicated for nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy. Its ingredient is dronabinol, a manufactured delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
(3) One of many major proponents of medical marijuana may be 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 in their 2008 position paper. ACP also expresses its strong support for research to the therapeutic role of marijuana along with exemption from federal criminal prosecution; civil liability; or professional sanctioning for physicians who prescribe or dispense medical marijuana in respect 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 used in many developed countries The argument of if they are able to take action, 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 are also allowing exemptions.
Now here will be the arguments against medical marijuana.
(1) Lack of data on safety and efficacy. Drug regulation is based on safety first. The safety of marijuana and its components really has to first be established. Efficacy only comes second. Even though 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 in the market, its approval for medical use might be a long shot. Based on 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 use it as well as when it is effective, doesn’t benefit anyone. Simply having access, with out safety, efficacy, and adequate use information doesn’t help patients.
(2) Unknown chemical components. Medical marijuana can just only be readily available and affordable in herbal form. Like other herbs, marijuana falls underneath the category of botanical products. Unpurified botanical products, however, face many problems including lot-to-lot consistency, dosage determination, potency, shelf-life, and toxicity. Based on the IOM report if you have any future of marijuana as a medication, it is based on its isolated components, the cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives. To fully characterize the different aspects of marijuana would cost so much time and money that the expenses of the medications which will come out of it will 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) Prospect of abuse. Marijuana or cannabis is addictive. It may not be as addictive as hard drugs such as cocaine; nevertheless it cannot be denied that there surely is a possibility of substance abuse associated with marijuana. It’s been demonstrated by a few studies as summarized in the IOM report.
(4) Lack of a secure delivery system. The most common form of delivery of marijuana is through smoking. Considering the present trends in anti-smoking legislations, this form of delivery will never be approved by health authorities. Reliable and safe delivery systems in the proper execution of vaporizers, nebulizers, or inhalers remain at the testing stage.
(5) Symptom alleviation, not cure. Even though marijuana has therapeutic effects, it’s only addressing the outward indications of certain diseases. It does not treat or cure these illnesses. Given that it is effective against these symptoms, there are already medications available which work as well as well as better, without the medial side effects and risk of abuse associated with marijuana.
The 1999 IOM report couldn’t settle the debate about medical marijuana with scientific evidence offered by that time. The report definitely discouraged the usage of smoked marijuana but gave a nod towards marijuana use via 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 research of the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids.
What exactly stands in the manner of clarifying the questions brought up by the IOM report? Medical authorities don’t appear to be thinking about having another review. There is limited data available and whatever is available is biased towards safety issues on the negative effects of smoked marijuana. Data on efficacy mainly originate 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 as a result of limited funding and strict regulations. Due to the complicated legalities involved, not many pharmaceutical companies are investing in cannabinoid research. Oftentimes, it’s unclear just how to define medical marijuana as advocated and opposed by many groups. Does it only reference 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 in the market are really expensive, pushing people towards the cheaper cannabinoid in the proper execution of marijuana. Needless to say, the problem is further clouded by conspiracy theories involving the pharmaceutical industry and drug regulators.
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