Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana Use

The use of marijuana or cannabis for medical reasons is a divisive issue. However, the legalization of marijuana for either recreational or medical use in over 20 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia is a precedent that cannabis or pot, weed, hash, joints or Mary Jane will eventually be legal in all 50 states.

Medical Marijuana Definition

The term medical marijuana generally refers to the unprocessed plant or its extracts, which are not wholly approved or recognized medicine by the U.S FDA. The cannabis plant contains chemicals that could be useful in managing a range of symptoms or illnesses and has led many to consider using it for medical purposes.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main mind-altering ingredient of marijuana. This chemical is just one of the 100 cannabinoids found in marijuana. Aside from THC, the cannabidiol (CBD) is another cannabinoid that interest the U.S. FDA and has in fact been approved for medicinal use. The development of these new pharmaceuticals eliminates the harmful side effects produced by smoking or eating marijuana leaves.

The street marijuana and current medical marijuana are basically the same. Most marijuana sold for medicinal purpose is of the same quality as street marijuana and therefore has the same side effects and health risks. However, there are strains with a higher ratio of CBD than THC for medical purpose.


THC in cannabis reduces nausea and stimulates the appetite. It may also decrease inflammation, pain and spasticity. Cannbidiol or CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid also reduces inflammation and pain and controls epileptic seizures. The possibility that CBD can treat addictions and psychosis is under study. Some designer drug manufacturers have created their own versions of cannabinoids of which some proved to be highly potent that when abused led to serious health complications.

PROS and CONS of Using Medical Marijuana

There are 3 camps when it comes to the use of marijuana for medical reasons. Here are the pros and cons from each of the different perspectives.

From Medical Professionals

  • PRO – According to Joycelyn Elders, MD, there is evidence that points to the efficacy of marijuana in relieving certain types of nausea, pain, vomiting and other symptoms due to illnesses such as AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis as well as side effects caused by medications used to treat these diseases, such as chemo.
  • CON – According to Bill Frist, MD, there is still a lack of consistent scientific data to prove the benefits of medical marijuana. Based on current scientific evidence, marijuana is a dangerous drug and there are safer medications to take to get the same pain relief offered by marijuana.

From Medical Organizations

  • PRO – The American College of Physicians (ACP) supports the reclassification of marijuana’s status as a schedule I controlled substance as there is evidence to prove the safety and efficacy of the substance in some medical conditions. It supports professionals prescribing medical marijuana from persecution and civil liabilities.
  • CON – The US National Eye Institute has supported studies and experiments since 1978, to determine the efficacy of the illicit drug in treating glaucoma. However, there was no indication that proved that marijuana or any of its components could lower intraocular pressure as efficiently as other medically prescribed drugs.

From US Government Officials

  • PRO – According to Justice Francis L. Young of the DEA, it is recorded (9-6-1988) that marijuana proved to be capable in relieving the symptoms and distress of ill people who took marijuana under medical supervision and that it would be arbitrary for the DEA to hinder sufferers from obtaining relief from medical marijuana.
  • CON – John Walters, Director of the Office of the National Drug Control Policy, expressed the dangers of smoking marijuana. Not only does it damage the brain but also the lungs, heart and immune systems. Smoking weed also affects memory and impairs learning.

Some medical practitioners and patients have attested to the efficiency of marijuana in dealing with pain and symptoms brought about by illnesses. Terminally ill patients have found temporary relief from smoking marijuana and in most cases, the benefits far outweigh suspected and even validated risks. A thought is, were patients who claimed relief just ‘high’ on the effects of marijuana?

Even if medical marijuana is legal in a specific state, it is still illegal for any doctor to prescribe any form of medication unapproved by the FDA as he/she could lose his or her medical license.

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