Should Medical Marijuana Use be Legal?

– Dr. Geeta Sundar

Over the years, with marijuana, concepts have flirted across from random use to recreational use, to medical use. And with marijuana, the biggest sections of focus are medical and legal, and more so between the officiated medical use versus the recreational use.

While there might be many benefits to this wonder drug, there are also as many dangerous side effects. The task of understanding its scientific profile and pharmacology, including the drug delivery system, the dose, the frequency, time to excretion and its abuse potential, play important roles in determining its legal grant approval.

The benefits of marijuana are as follows –

  • Pain is the single most critical factor that converges in all patient care. And research has proven that pain can be alleviated with marijuana. More so, in cases of patients with terminal HIV-AIDS, chronic pain syndromes and end-stage cancers. 
  • Nausea and vomiting, from chemotherapy, are intractable, can be managed well with marijuana and provides relief in short times.
  • Spasticity due to multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s syndrome, movement disorders and cerebral palsy associated spasms and seizures, show better control with marijuana.
  • Cachexia, loss of weight and appetite due to cancer syndromes can be treated with marijuana and it’s shown to have better outcomes in weight gain and appetite.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy – evidence-based medicine has shown good results in managing neuropathy in chronic, non-healing conditions.
  • In sleep apnea and fibromyalgia, this compound has been found to have better results in increasing sleep times and overall health.
  • Marijuana is found to reduce intraocular pressure in 4 hours in acute glaucoma.
  • Marijuana might also have a role to play in Tourette syndrome, as it helps in controlling the tics and spasms.
  • A recent use, albeit it would require further testing, has been established in Hepatitis C. Marijuana combats the side effects of the medications used for Hep C by reducing the nausea, fatigue and improving appetite and allowing patients to complete the full course of the treatment.

Throughout literature, there have been certain suspicions made based on the pharmacological profile of marijuana, however, some of them aren’t completely true –

  • Marijuana can cause increase in heart rate, blood pressure but doesn’t have any direct role to play in causing death even in higher doses.
  • While marijuana has an addiction liability, its risk with addiction is on a lower scale than alcohol, nicotine, morphine and the benzodiazepines.
  • Smoking marijuana can theoretically lead to lung cancer, however this cause-effect relationship is yet to be proven.
  •  Marijuana is considered to contribute towards the Gateway Hypothesis, which states that it might provoke the user and influence him/her to experiment with other substances and indulge in dependence. And while this might have significance in the younger, teen age group, due to peer and social pressures, a direct cause to association connection is not validated.

The legal aspects of this discussion, unravels politics, pharmacy and legislature. To have tight control on this drug, its farming, harvest, license, and marketing, would require round the block sanctions, steadfast laws and a strong judicial system.

Marijuana is still considered as a controlled substance in most of the world, though its use and commerce have been relaxed in the last decade. As long as it’s being used for medical benefits, that are well documented, as per prescribed doses, and sold per prescriptions in the drug stores, there should be not much stopping its legal freedom.

References

  1. Medical Marijuana: The Conflict Between Scientific Evidence and Political Ideology. Part One of Two: Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy: Vol 23, No 1 (tandfonline.com)
  1. Medical Marijuana: The Conflict Between Scientific Evidence and Political Ideology. Part Two of Two: Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy: Vol 23, No 2 (tandfonline.com)
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40429-017-0170-y
  3. https://www.mdpi.com/2226-4787/6/4/128

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