Marijuana is the common name for Cannabis sativa, a hemp plant that grows throughout temperate and tropical climates. This plant is composed of over 400 chemicals, 61 of which are unique to the plant. Medicinal research has highlighted two active chemicals in Cannabis Sativa that may be used medicine. These are Cannabidiol (CBD) which has effects on the brain and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which has analgesic properties. Advocates for the use of marijuana as medicine argue that it has immense potential to treat medical conditions including cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma and epilepsy both safely and effectively. Critics however question the medicinal potential by acknowledging the hundreds of other chemicals in this plant that we have little knowledge about. They also emphasize on the dangers of Marijuana. This includes the psychological detriments of the plant- marijuana is addictive which leads to a dependency on it, as well as the physiological detriments like interference with fertility and injury to the lungs, immune system, and brain. This gives rise to the question, should Marijuana be a medical option?
Sanjay Gupta, a Medical Doctor and proponent for the medicinal use of Marijuana argues that there is optimistic research about the medicinal use of Marijuana which could benefit thousands of people by treating medical conditions like cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s. He states that the analgesic properties of marijuana reduce the demands for narcotics which ultimately limit the deaths caused by over dosage of pain killers. “Marijuana is a medicine that should be studies and treated like any other medicine”, says the Medical Correspondent for CNN in an article titled “It’s Time for a Medical Marijuana Revolution.” Opposing this is Stuart Gitlow, MD, MPH, MBA and Former President of the ASAM Board of Directors. He claims that Marijuana as a medicine is a myth, stressing of the hazards of its use. “The dangers and risks of marijuana use are well-known by the scientific community, even if they are downplayed by corporate interests wishing to get rich off of legalization. Apathy, lost productivity, addictive disease, deterioration in intellectual function, motor vehicle accidents, and psychosis are all among the negative outcomes.” He also mentions that medications already exist for the conditions which Marijuana use could benefit.
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