Medical Cannabis Benefits Versus The Risks Of Using It
The debate over the legalization of marijuana for medical use – typically referred to as cannabis (marijuana) when prescribed by a doctor – is an intense battle that has been going on for years.
Thus cannabis and the medical benefits are in a gray zone and seem destined to remain there for quite some time. Millions of people use marijuana, various people use it recreationally and some of the medicinal benefits that marijuana provides.
While the popular plant has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, the debate on its effectiveness continues. We know the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved synthetic cannabinoid (the active ingredient in marijuana) drugs for use in patients and more are undergoing Phase III clinical trials in the United States for the treatment of cancer pain.
Yet, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) lists marijuana (a cannabinoid drug like the FDA has approved) under the Schedule I category of controlled substances, meaning it has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical purpose in the United States and is not deemed safe for use.
The DEA’s stance has made it difficult for scientists to push forward national clinical trials for natural (NOT the synthetic) marijuana for medical use. Still, more than 6,000 studies have been published in scientific journals about marijuana medical benefits and the cannabis plant, according to NORML, an organization that works to legalize marijuana.
Research has shown that there are both marijuana medical benefits and risks, just as any type of medication patients are prescribed by medical doctors.
Marijuana Medical Benefits
Medical marijuana can treat a number of conditions in patients. For example, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been reported to respond to treatment with marijuana.
The marijuana medical benefits are virtually unlimited, even the National Cancer Institute (NCI) says the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep.
Most patients report fewer side effects than with traditional drugs because marijuana is a naturally occurring substance; it carries fewer risks than chemically processed drugs.
The psychological effects of cannabinoids, such as anxiety reduction, sedation, and euphoria can influence their potential medical marijuana benefits. In some patients there is a mild and short-lived withdrawal symptom – the symptoms include restlessness, irritability, mild agitation, insomnia, sleep disturbance, and cramping.
So needless to say, those effects are potentially undesirable for certain patients and situations, and beneficial for others.
The most significant risk posed by marijuana is that, unlike many other medications, there are no recommended dosing requirements. Thus patients have to experiment with dosing, a method of administration, and strain.
Smoking marijuana (you have other options to medicate, ex. digestion, topical application, etc.) poses a risk to the lungs and may cause other respiratory problems.
However, except for the harm on your lungs associated with actually smoking marijuana, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the acceptable range of side effects that is tolerated for other pharmaceutical medications.
The physiological risks of medical use of marijuana are not necessarily the same or nearly as harmful as the physical effects of other types of drug use.
It seems the main question is do marijuana medical benefits outweigh the risks???
While the benefits and risks of medicating with marijuana may be overstated by advocates and opponents of marijuana legalization, new legalization will help researchers study the marijuana medical benefits and uses, and better understand how it impacts the body.
Currently, we do know marijuana does confer more benefits on patients than the risks. The risks are extremely minimal; in most cases, marijuana medical benefits have less risk than prescribed pharmaceutical drugs.
Others have pointed out that marijuana use has been a part of human existence for centuries and has been used – historically – to treat some health problems in addition to alleviating mental health concerns.
Let us know what you think.