Marijuana is in the national news again as states continue to define new laws regarding it’s medical and recreational use. Nationally, marijuana is undergoing a gradual decriminalization--it’s now available for medical use in 14 states. But is marijuana a legitimate and necessary medical treatment?
There have been dozens of scientific studies that have attempted to determine if medical marijuana is an effective treatment for conditions ranging from bipolar disorder to anorexia nervosa, with mixed results. For example, in recent years there have been studies that appear to show marijuana as widely effective in reducing pain. One study, reported in the medical journal Neurology, found that HIV patients that smoked marijuana had a greater reduction in pain intensity than those that were given placebos. In another double-blind study reported in the Journal of Pain, medical marijuana was found effective in reducing pain from nerve injuries.
However, opposing researchers claim that such studies are flawed or limited by the size of the patient groups and the short duration of the studies. Many point to the the negative health effects of marijuana. The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes “an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and schizophrenia.” The institute goes on to relate the high level of carcinogenic hydrocarbons that marijuana smokers take into their lungs, and that marijuana smokers are faced with many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers.
Those that support medical marijuana say that the benefits outweigh the side effects, and suggest that patients take marijuana orally in capsules or cooked in food instead of smoking it to avoid any effects on the lungs. Many proponents focus on studies that promote the use of marijuana to reduce the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and allow patients to reduce their dependence on other anti-nausea medications. Again though, there is an argument by the American Medical Association that although THC, the main active ingredient in Marijuana, does reduce nausea and vomiting, the effects aren’t strong enough to merit using marijuana when there are other available drug options. Complicating the issue is that marijuana has hundreds of different interacting elements, not just THC.
Although there are still strong opinions on both sides of the issue, a 2009 Rasmussen poll found that a slim majority of Americans now consider alcohol to be more dangerous than marijuana. The future of medical marijuana remains uncertain, but it appears that it is slowly gaining wider acceptance. Although any changes to laws concerning addictive drugs need careful consideration, patients should have legal access to any drug that is determined to be the most effective treatment for serious conditions such as chronic pain and intense nausea. Do you think medical marijuana should be allowed?
Nausea Acupressure Tip:
If you’re experiencing nausea, try pressing 2 fingers into the inside of your forearm, about 2 inches above the crease for your wrist.
51% Rate Alcohol More Dangerous Than Marijuana
Should marijuana be a medical option?
Alternative Medicines for Nausea and Vomiting