It is worthwhile to consider the medical marijuana pros and cons, which we discuss here. Marijuana is scientifically named as cannabis sativa. It has hundreds of chemical components in it, but the main known component that has psychoactive side effects is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana is not only used by people who want to get high and feel intoxicated, but it also has many reported medical uses.
In many states of the US, carrying it for personal or distribution purpose is still deemed to be illegal, although the legal situation is complex and changing rapidly. Using it for medical purposes is under consideration in many places, while some countries including Canada have already started using marijuana for medical purposes.
The medical marijuana form that is given by doctors is also referred to as marinol (Dronabinol). It comes in various types of capsules and is reportedly used for the treatment of poor appetite, immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), pain, vomiting and nausea, epilepsy, and other conditions. Use of medical marijuana is hotly debated, and there’s increasing interest in doing formal research to study the true effects.
In recent years here has been an increase in the use of medical marijuana, and because of it, dispensaries in Canada and USA offer medical marijuana if prescribed by a doctor. Recently, one Canadian company Kaneh Bosm has announced that they will be putting a vending machine in Vancouver that will help citizens to get medical marijuana more conveniently.
Medical Marijuana Pros and Cons:
There is one factor that has been under consideration, and that is how to harness the benefits of medical marijuana. Doctors at national institute of health focuses their research on young teenagers who use marijuana with alcohol, and that may cause additional health risk, but there is a lot more that has yet to be revealed, and possibly, there will be more benefit than risks of marijuana in future.
- Medical has clear evidence that marijuana can reduce some of the problems including pain and vomiting that’s associated with AIDS and cancer. According to former US surgeon, medical marijuana can be interchanged with some of the expensive prescribed medicines that have other side effects. He clearly states that marijuana is less toxic as compared to many medical drugs that are prescribe by physicians.
- American college of Physicians (ACP) wants to change the status of marijuana into a more appropriate classification for some of the medical conditions. They gave their review with scientific evidence. ACP also urges that there must not be any criminal charges against physicians and patients who want to use marijuana under the laws of the state.
- According to the DEA Administrative Law Judge, the evidence provided in a ruling clearly states that marijuana can provide relief from a number of ailments if treatment is carried out under medical supervision. The judge also said that it will not be reasonable for DEA to come in between the benefit of people in the light of evidence that has been provided.
- Professor at Harvard medical school explained that there is very little evidence that says marijuana can pose significant risk to health. He said that cannabis has been widely used in western countries for four decades, and there has not yet been any definitive proven case of lung cancer or emphysema caused by using marijuana.
- Former US Senator said he understands that many people believe marijuana can be a positive drug, but he could not rule out the possibility that there is lack of consistent data, and scientific evidence that proves medical benefits of marijuana. He based his view on the evidence that were provided at that time, and he added that there are less dangerous medicines offering similar medical benefits.
- Numerous research data suggest that marijuana can be a psychologically addictive substance, the symptoms are similar to any other addictive medicine.
- There’s concern that legalization of marijuana may lead to legalization of other similar drugs. It is argued that marijuana can be a “gateway drug” that can lead towards people addicted to other more harmful drugs.
Effects of Medical Marijuana
There are some reported side effects that occur during consumption of medical marijuana. These side effects can vary from person to person and include asthenia (lack of energy), reddish eyes, facial flushing, increased heart rate, paranoia, substance abuse, and some more. If you’ve never done it before, don’t over do it (are you listening Colorado pot tourists!)
Health Side Effects of Marijuana
- There are some side effects from using marijuana, most related to THC content. This substance can interface with person’s brain and memory that may lead to various other side effects, including shift of body balance, brain’s judgement, and others.
- A study that was published in year 2001 indicated that there is 300 to 500 percent chance of getting a heart attack after taking marijuana. However, this has not been widely corroborated.
- There’s evidence that respiratory problems may arise from chronic smoking of marijuana. This is due to ingesting the carbon and burned plant matter. This is why many users prefer a water bong to filter the particles out.
- Teenagers who smoke marijuana may come across temporary memory loss, even after they have quit marijuana. This is one of the top debates that stops legalization of marijuana in most countries around the world.
Health Benefits of Marijuana
Some of the scientific data states that marijuana is a potential medical drug that can cure illness, and at the same time this drug, if not used precisely, can be addictive and increase the exposure of local drugs among people. Some of the data indicates that with the help of legal procedures marijuana can be distributed safely. There is a lot of data available in the field of medical marijuana, but most of the data is based on heavy marijuana users.
- Marijuana has be used to treat eye problems such as Glaucoma. According to the business insider, marijuana reduces the pressure on eye.
- Marijuana can help increase the lung capability. Studies also show that smoking only marijuana doesn’t cause much risk of lung disease.
- According to international business times, those who use marijuana have lower incidence of depression as compared to those who haven’t used marijuana ever.
- Marijuana can be an effective agent for nausea, especially for women. However, pregnant women should not use it.
- Cancer is one of the diseases for which marijuana is commonly used. People who go through treatment of cancer usually experience vomiting, nausea, and related problems. Marijuana has reduced these problems in many people.
- Marijuana can be a reliving agent for muscles that are sometimes paralyzed or have sclerosis.
- Some patients with epilepsy claim positive results to alleviate epileptic episodes.
- Medical marijuana is available in various forms. It can be used in food i.e. cookies, chocolate bars, it can be used to smoke, indigested as a pill, or can be use with a vape.
Marijuana Addiction Overview
The topic of marijuana addiction is a contentious one. Physical addiction in marijuana users has never actually been proven, however according to many legitimate studies, 9% of cannabis users have developed dependence, 10-20% of these people are daily users. Between the year of 1995 and 2002 there was an increase of demand for treatment of cannabis use disorder cases. In the USA, where more than 49% of the population have used cannabis, it has become the most commonly identified illicit substance that’s causing people to be admitted to treatment facilities.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
The controversy surrounding this question of marijuana addiction appears to be just as big as the controversy surrounding its legalization issue. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why people stand either on the side that agree with the legalization or on the side that doesn’t agree with the legalization.
It’s never quite clear whether it’s really addictive and how severe it could be, many experts think that it actually depends on what you really mean by “addiction”.
The most common definition of the term addiction is the one laid out by the psychiatry’s handbook of all mental conditions: “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”. According to this book, addiction is the compulsive use of a substance, even though the user has to face negative consequences, that leads to higher tolerance to the substance and causing the user suffers from withdrawal symptoms when the use of the substance is stopped. With this definition, then many marijuana users can be considered addicted to the substance.
However, a lot of non-specialists that includes many doctors and in some places also include the majority of general public, still tend to agree with an older perspective. In this perspective there are two kinds of addictions, physical addiction that’s causing severe withdrawal symptoms just like in heroin addiction or such, and psychological addiction that only cause cravings. Since there are no severe withdrawal symptoms in marijuana users such as shaking or puking like in heroin addiction, marijuana is seen as only psychologically addictive.
Who Can Develop Marijuana Addiction?
Heavy users are the most likely group of people that can develop dependence of the substance. These are recreational users who use marijuana excessively or medical marijuana users who use it way more than recommended dosage.
When people use marijuana excessively for a long period of time, they can have increased tolerance, and possibly they will experience symptoms when trying to stop using it. Prolonged use of marijuana could result in the changes of how the substance is absorbed, metabolized, distributed, and excreted (known as pharmacokinetic) as well as the changes of how the substance interacts with target cells in the body (known as pharmacodynamic). When that happens, a user should consume higher doses in order to get a desirable effect.
People who start using cannabis at young age are also more likely to have increased tolerance and have greater chance to develop dependence. In a study conducted by the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre in Australia, it was found that the main factors that are causing problems related to cannabis use are frequent use at a young age, emotional distress, school drop-out, moving away from home at a very young age, ready access to cannabis, personal maladjustment, poor parenting, relationship with drug users, and regular cigarette smoking. The researchers found some strong evidences that early cannabis use could be an accurate predictor of late dependence.
Another group that has a high risk of marijuana dependence are the people who suffer from mental health conditions.
Cause and Symptoms of Marijuana Addiction
Prolonged use of cannabis (especially when started at a very young age) also higher frequency and dosages of cannabis used are the main cause for marijuana dependency. Cannabis addiction or dependency is often associated with comorbid mental health problems, including mood and anxiety disorders. While most users can stop using cannabis anytime they want without any side effects or cravings, for a small percentage of users, discontinuing the use of cannabis is quite difficult. There are some evidences showing occurrences of psychiatric comorbidities in dependent cannabis users as well as some personality disorders. Additionally, other substances with higher toxicant levels such as alcohol are often abused by people dependent on marijuana.
For people who have developed high tolerance to cannabis, and finally dependency, using marijuana will become a large part of their lives. These people might precede their need to use marijuana rather than other important activities. Even when they have realized that they have problems with cannabis use, they will keep using the substance.
Basically, none of the withdrawal symptoms that occur averagely in one half of patients in cannabis use disorders patients can be considered medically serious. When individuals dependent to marijuana stop using the substance, they could experience dysphoric mood (restlessness, depressed mood, irritability, anxiety) decreased appetite, gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as disturbed sleep. Usually these symptoms will begin in the first week after the patient stops using marijuana, and in most cases they will disappear after a few weeks.
Marijuana Addiction Treatment
Even though marijuana side effects resulting from dependency are actually not considered medically serious, but there are more and more people who considered having problems with marijuana are seeking treatment or referred by the criminal justice system to seek treatment to eliminate the problem.
Since it’s far less serious than opiate or alcohol dependence, treatment options for cannabis dependence are also fewer. There are no effective medications found for cannabis dependence, and most treatment methods available are either psychological or psychotherapeutic, pharmacological intervention, or treatment through environmental approaches and peer support.
1. Psychological Intervention
This includes twelve step programs, family and systems interventions, supportive expressive psychotherapy, contingency management, motivational enhancement therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
2. Pharmacological Intervention
There are thre treatment approaches in pharmacological intervention, agonist substitution, antagonist, as well as modulation of other neurotransmitter systems. One agonist that’s legally available is Dronabinol. It could reduce the withdrawal symptoms as well as reducing the symptoms of reduced cannabis use in some cases an in many trials. In a trial conducted with a small number of patients, Entacapone also seemed to be quite effective in reducing cannabis withdrawal symptoms, but further testing is necessary to confirm its effectiveness. two other drugs that were showing positive results in some trials are Acetylcysteine, and Busporine. While Atomoxetine and Divalporex showed no significant change in patients.