Medical Marijuana (Cannabis) – Concern or Greed?

Marijuana
Marijuana / Cannabis

 

Marijuana (Cannabis) products  possess several pharmacologic activities that give it a high potential for therapeutic use, according to a review by Pius S. Fasiru et al, July 21st  2016. This review says that cannabinoids (CBD) exhibit neuroprotective, antieleptic, anxiolytic and anti-inflammatory properties. However uncertainties regarding sourcing, long term safety abuse potential and regulatory dilemmas remain.

Marijuana – the whole plant –  was not studied in depth in medical schools, so doctors don’t know if to tell their patients to eat, smoke or vaporize it. What to prescribe it for – nausea caused by chemotherapy? severe chronic pain? and what quantity should be prescribed?

Most state laws allow Marijuana Dispensaries, where patients with qualifying symptoms, can get the drug. There are now twenty- five states and D.C which allow medical cannabis use. Some states like New York are beginning to  require continued medical education, to learn about physiological effects of marijuana on the human body. Even with this limited knowledge, many physicians are still uncomfortable with prescribing  the drug without the full facts of the side effects and it’s interaction with other drugs.

Federal laws still technically forbid the prescription of cannabis and tasks states that allow it, to implement stringent and effective systems, to address any threat to public safety and other interests. Marijuana is classified as schedule I by the Drug Enforcement Agency. This makes is difficult for researchers to get approval for human subjects to take part in scientific studies.

Cannabis has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes – for gout, headaches, rheumatism and other ailments – short term side effects include dizziness, lethargy, vomiting, hallucinations. Long term side effects are not clear, which include memory loss and cognition problems, risk of addiction and schizophrenia.

Opponents to medical marijuana say that it is too dangerous to use and that there are other legal medications which make marijuana unnecessary. They believe marijuana is addictive and leads to use of drugs like LSD and cocaine. They also say it impairs the ability to drive, impairs fertility, the immune system and the brain. They believe medical marijuana is a gateway for legalizing the recreational use of the drug.

According to Deepak Cyril D’Souza, MD a professor at Yale School of Medicine ” If the goal is to make Marijuana available for medicinal purposes, then it is unclear why the approval process should be different from that used for other medications. Evidence justifying marijuana use for various medical conditions will require double blind, randomized, placebo / active controlled clinical trials, to test it’s short and long term efficacy and safety.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug (22.2 million) according to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Early exposure to cannabinoids in adolescent rodents decreases the reactivity of brain dopamine reward centers later in adulthood. To the extent that these findings generalize to humans, this could help explain the increased vulnerability for addiction to other substances of abuse later in life that most epidemiological studies have reported for people who begin marijuana use early in life. It is also consistent with animal experiments showing THC’s ability to “prime” the brain for enhanced responses to other drugs. For example, rats previously administered THC show heightened behavioral response not only when further exposed to THC but also when exposed to other drugs such as morphine—a phenomenon called cross-sensitization – www.drugabuse.gov

So why the craze to legalize marijuana? A recent poll suggests that it would be an increase in revenue both for the government  and individuals, and most Americans support it. It appears GREED not the desire to help the sick, is the real reason for decriminalizing marijuana use.

 

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