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Bui Thien Minh

Global Perspectives

IGCSE 2

HEALTH AND DISEASE


Should Marijuana be Legalized for
Medical Purposes?

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Bui Thien Minh

Bui Thien Minh

Global Perspectives

IGCSE 2

Should Marijuana be Legalized for Medical Purposes?


In the early 1900s, the Mexican Revolution initiated an influx of immigration from
Mexico to the regions of Texas and Louisiana in the United States. The excessive flow of
newcomers to the U.S carried new languages, cultures and customs along with them. Marijuana,
a type of medicinal plant and known as cannabis, was a part of these foreign customs. However,
the recreational use of marijuana was associated with violence, crime, socially deviant behaviors
and heavy addiction. The authorities regards this as a common issue and by 1930, marijuana was
outlawed in 30 states in America (druglibrary.org, 2016). In 1996, after its 59 year reign as an
illicit substance with no medical value ended, California became the first state to approve
marijuanas medical purposes. Now that a growing number of countries around the world are
passing medical marijuana laws, the public is concerned about the practicality of keeping
marijuana under restriction, especially in regards to the propagandized assumptions that made it
illegal in the first place (Burnett, 2014). Nevertheless, marijuana should be legalized globally for
medical purposes because of its remarkable effects on the human body, and its also a
revolutionary movement for the worlds economic development in the 21st century.
The consumption of marijuana leads to numerous after-effects on the human brain. In
order to understand these effects, its essential to understand the plants property. Marijuana
refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant, Cannabis Sativa. The
plant contains the mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related
compounds. The chemical THC quickly moves from the lungs into the bloodstream, then
relocates to the brain and organs throughout the body seconds after it is inhaled. THC acts on
specific brain cell receptors that ordinarily react to natural THC-like chemicals in the brain.
These natural chemicals contribute in normal brain growth and function. THC overactivates parts
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of the brain that contain the highest number of receptors and stimulate the high sensation that
users normally feel. Overall, there are very few effects of marijuana that are considered as
threatening to the body.
Marijuana possesses miraculous uses for medical purposes since it contains chemicals
that may help treat a range of over twenty illnesses and symptoms. A study published in the
journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics shows that marijuana has the ability to stop cancer by
turning off a gene called Id-1. In 2007, researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San
Francisco, reported that it may prevent cancer from spreading. The researchers experimented on
breast cancer cells in the lab that had high level of Id-1, and treated them with cannabidiol, a
main chemical compound in marijuana. The outcome was rather positive, the cells had decreased
Id-1 expressions, keeping the spread less threatening. In addition, the American Association for
Cancer Research has found that marijuana actually delays tumor growth in the brain, breasts, and
lungs (Kabir, 2016). This is only one of the many examples of how medical marijuana help cure
illnesses.
Marijuana can be used as an effective method to treat many problems. Not only does it
improve cancer and patients conditions, marijuana is commonly used to treat glaucoma, a
disease in which the eye undergoes high-fluid pressure. Glaucoma can injure the optic nerve and
cause a loss of vision. Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered
intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma (National
Eye Institute, 2005). According to the National Eye Institute, marijuana lowers the pressure
inside the eye and these effects of the drug can prevent blindness. Furthermore, THC slows the
progression of Alzheimers disease by slowing the formation of amyloid plaques and blocks
enzymes in the brain that makes them. These are the plaques which kill the brain cells, and a
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prime factor to Alzheimers disease (Janda, 2006). There are also a variety of other serious
diseases that can be treated using marijuanas properties if the right amount of THC is extracted
for treatment depending on the type of illness. Marijuana can definitely play a crucial role in the
global medical branch.
It is indisputable that the world still has contrasting opinions and laws about cannabis,
whether it is for medical purposes or not. Nonetheless, with people becoming more educated and
accepting of the various medical benefits of marijuana, it may not be long before huge changes
in legislation occur. Taxed and well-regulated medical cannabis programs create numerous
economic benefits for states and local governments.

These systems are already being

implemented in over 23 states and their reward is abundant. A study has shown that legalizing
both medical and recreational marijuana would generate $8.7 billion in federal and state tax
revenue per year (Fairchild, 2013). Cannabis is a $50 billion dollar industry.
The majority of this revenue is obtained by cartels and criminal gangs. These black
market billions of dollars can be transformed into taxable revenue through regulation and
taxation. Legalizing and regulating medical cannabis will take this profit source away from
murderous criminals and transfer it to licensed businesses. By taking these revenues from
organized crime, the authorities can significantly impoverish them financially. This new income
can strengthen the state economy without raising taxes. Marijuana legalization can also create
jobs for the communities. Cannabis jobs already exist around the world; unfortunately, they all
are held by criminals. A well-organized medical cannabis program will create new jobs for hardworking, tax-paying people. From horticulturists cultivating plants, to labs testing the safety of
the medicine, to employees at dispensaries, regulated medical marijuana will create thousands of
new, high-paying jobs.
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Another point is that marijuana prohibition is expensive. The state and federal
governments spend an excess of $20 billion per year fighting this little green plant (Miron,
2016).

Much of this cost comes from straining the justice systems and wasting law

enforcements time. Government spending should be used on fortifying infrastructure and social
programs. This new source of money can be used to consolidate the underfunded public work
programs.
Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs around the world, and while the
legality of its use differs from country to country, the world is starting to realize a trend in its
legalization for medical and recreational use. Though the recreational use of marijuana is legal in
many countries, there are still only a scarce amount of places with little-to-no limits on the
amount people can consume, grow or possess. For example, marijuana is legal to possess, sell,
cultivate and transport in Uruguay. However, only pharmacies are allowed to sell the drug to
citizens over the age of 18 and who are on a government registry. In other words, this move was
not for tourists because of its limited access (greenito.com). Meanwhile, in Germany the laws are
quite loose since people who are caught with marijuana have it confiscated, but there will be no
prosecution. Another distinguished instance is Brazil, where marijuana usage is punishable only
by drug treatment and fines. Brazil is praised by many for implementing a more modern drug
policy, treating addictions as illnesses and working to avoid those extremes in its people.
Additionally, some countries have decriminalized marijuana, which means incidents of using,
growing or selling it are treated as minor offenses with no jail time or lasting criminal record
with examples of Columbia, Ecuador, Czech Republic and Italy. However, the possession of
marijuana around the world is generally firmly restricted or illegal with a minor amount of
exceptions.

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There are several countries which strictly permit marijuana for medical applications only
such as Canada and Columbia. Medical marijuana in Canada was legalized in 2001 following by
the legalization for recreational use in November 2015. The country, led by Justin Trudeau, is
currently working on legalizing recreational cannabis. However, Canada's criminal law is federal
so provinces can't pass marijuana laws on their own. Canadians in need can legally and safely
obtain medical marijuana by acquiring medical documentation from a healthcare practitioner,
then register with a licensed producer, and receive direct delivery of the marijuana from the
producer supervised under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. There are currently 29
authorized licensed producers in Canada. There are currently about 35,000 to 40,000 patients
enrolled in Health Canadas medical marijuana program. The total market is worth $80 million to
$100 million. For all of Canada, the number comes out to $13.5 million per month, or $162
million in annual tax revenue (leafscience.com, 2016). A lot of this tax money is money that
would otherwise be going to drug dealers and organized crime, explains Moffatt, an associate
professor at Western Universitys Richard Ivey School of Business. Instead of financing that,
why not finance schools and hospitals and all the things our society needs? The money that
medical marijuana creates for the country can be used to help drive further research.
On the other side of the hemisphere, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos passed
legislation that legalized medical marijuana in December 2015:
Our goal is for patients to be able to access medications made in Colombia that are safe,
high-quality and accessible. It is also an opportunity to promote scientific research in our
country. It places Colombia in the group of countries that are at the forefront in the use of
natural resources to fight disease.
(Santos, 2015)
This is a clear example of a country making moves to deviate a large illegal market of marijuana
into economic profit through manufacturing different marijuana products. In 2012, the South

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American country decriminalized the possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana, but smoking in


public was still prohibited. However, the new law was part of the progress in the country's own
war on drugs (Carrillo, 2015). Medical marijuana is already used in Colombia on a small scale.
For example, some epileptics use cannabis extract to control their seizures. In conclusion, both
Canada and Columbia are making significant progression on making the best out of this
medicinal plant for their development respectively.
The country of Israel is one of the powerhouses of medical marijuana. A company named
MECHKAR began as a tiny program serving about 1,800 people from 2008-2009. Today,
supplied by eight farms located all over the country, the program distributes cannabis to 12,000
patients (Short, 2014). In Israel, the $40-million-per-year medical-marijuana industry is thriving
in recent years. The Israeli government is funding and supporting breakthrough research on the
many healing potentials of the cannabis plant. Likud Party MK Haim Katz, who chairs the
Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee in Israels Knesset, said in January that the number
of doctors allowed to prescribe medical cannabis would double from nine to 20 by the end of the
year. That has already happened, as more than 20 doctors can now legally prescribe cannabis in
Israel, though some are limited to the prescription of cannabis oil (Peleg, 2014). Ten to thirty
people with licenses for cannabis will come through the doors of the MECHKAR facility, made
up of a few small rooms at the end of a mental hospital. In addition to having training facilities
and supplying cannabis to patients, MECHKAR is a mecca for authorized cannabis research.
Doctors from all over the world, including the U.S., collaborate in Israel to research cannabis
wide-ranging medical properties. Current studies are looking at cannabis use in the treatment of
basal-cell carcinoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia and Crohns disease. Funding
for cannabis research comes from the Israeli Ministry of Health (MOH) as well as private donors

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(Short, 2014). Israel, which has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the
world, produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation and has become a world
leader in cannabis research.
Cannabis extracts are also remarkable at healing problems originated from traumatic
brain injuries, including seizures. No person exemplifies that potential better than Debbie
Wilson. Debbie was a felony probation and parole officer in Florida before her accident on July
2nd, 1989. Debbie was hit by a pick-up truck after going out for lunch. The injury she endured
began a heartbreaking experience that would last for twenty years. In the beginning, the exposed
symptoms were migraines, forgetfulness, nightmares, paranoia, anxiety, loss of balance and a
distorted sense of time. On December 15th, 1991, Debbie was diagnosed with epilepsy stemming
from the trauma, which caused several types of seizures. The nature of her seizures made surgery
impossible and her condition grew worse over the next five years. Debbie was prescribed
numerous painkillers, anti-seizure pills, and anti-depressants, which caused massive damage to
her intestines. Other conditions surfaced year after year, including post-traumatic stress disorder,
chronic anxiety, migraines, and Type II diabetes. The debilitating condition that she suffered with
didnt stop until Debbie was given medicinal cannabis treatment. Her traditional options had
proved ineffective over the years, and cannabis was her only hope: I know for a fact that Im
now accessing file drawers in my memory bank that were shut for more than 20 years (Debbie
Wilson, 2010). Her diarrhea stopped within weeks and migraines dropped significantly, along
with seizures. Blood sugar and serotonin levels stabilized, allowing Debbie to stop the use of
antidepressants and diabetes medications. Even old, long-forgotten memories began returning.
Debbies case illustrates that marijuana extracts can offer notable benefits for traumatic brain

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injury patients with no hope remaining. With experiences like this coming to light with such
frequency, there is no excuse to carry on the prohibition of cannabis medicine (Kander, 2014).
In the agribusiness world of investments, medical marijuana would easily be the highest
valued cash crop in many countries. As investors see politicians continue to vote to legalize
medicinal marijuana into a legitimate business investment, the stronger the cash crop will
become in the world of stable business investments. Leading medical marijuana research and
investment companies are estimating the medical marijuana business will generate over ten
billion dollars in the next five years (cannabistraininginstitute.com, 2015). As the growers and
the retailers of medical marijuana show profit, stakeholders of other businesses such as lawyers,
insurers, agricultural-equipment businesses, and most importantly the employees will profit as
well. This will be indicated in stock options that will provide greater investment opportunities for
all investors.
In addition, medical marijuana research is relatively scarce, there is a lack of robust data
to back up its effectiveness when paired with specific medical conditions. As medical
applications of marijuana continue to be studied, state and federal policies are predicted to
continue to adapt to changing public opinion, and the legitimacy of medical marijuana will
continue to be tested.
Its likely that legalization would result in more research. The federal government has
made it very difficult to research the medical benefits of marijuana, but if the government
re-schedules it to Schedule II or III to allow further research, youre going to see studies
take place to show how it can be used as medicine.
(Herzberg, 2016).
Aaron Herzberg, a corporate lawyer for CalCann Holdings, a company that secures marijuana
dispensary licenses shared his opinion on this topic. He believes that marijuana research would

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support its stance on being an effective treatment for patients and should be moved to another
less- strict drug category for easier access for future studies.
In many places around the world these predictions are already becoming a reality. In
order to legalize medical marijuana and marijuana as a whole, its essential to pass new laws and
this is only happening if the majority of people believe that marijuana is actually beneficial to the
body. Medical marijuana supporters should invest in leading research companies to gain more
information and create concrete and legitimate information about the good side of marijuanas
properties. A company called Potbotics is the perfect example for an ideal investment in medical
marijuana research companies. Their innovative vision is to elevate the cannabis industry to
higher medical standards by streamlining the recommendation, cultivation and consumer
cannabis selection process. While others are looking to make marijuana stronger, Potbotics is
aiming to make it smarter. Their diverse technology blends robotics, artificial intelligence, DNA
analysis and cannabis research to address the major pain points in the medical marijuana
industry, benefiting patients, physicians, cultivators and dispensary owners. Together their three
products: PotBot, BrainBot and NanoPot create an enterprise technology platform for medical
marijuana. Potbotics cannabinoid matrixes, or specific ratios of the various chemicals in
marijuana, form the underlying basis for these products. Their main goal is to educate patients
through virtual softwares, personalize medical marijuana recommendations for doctors by using
a wireless EEG (electroencephalography) helmet to analyze brain responses, and drive seed
analytics to optimize growth with an advanced DNA reader that scans cannabis seeds to optimize
growers yields (potbotics.com, 2016). By funding these companies, not only does it help
hospitals but also shows exactly what marijuana can deliver to our society.

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There are also ways for individuals to take actions and support the legalization of medical
marijuana. Its strongly recommended that supporters be a part of forefront marijuana movement
through groups such as NORML, Drug Policy Alliance Network or LEAP - Law Enforcement
Against Prohibition. By donating to these organizations, they can lobby congress better. One can
also donate to members of congress who specifically introduce marijuana bills and or support
them. On a smaller level one can educate friends, classmates and people in the surrounding
environment. Students can choose marijuana policy issues for your research projects or papers.
Students in your class will be exposed to the issue, and professors sometimes even use student
ideas for their own research projects. On websites like MPP.org, there are suggestions of ways
people can get involved such as register for MPPs email alerts. People can receive breaking
news updates and opportunities to use MPPs online system to email or fax your legislators on
important legislation. When legislators receive thousands of messages from MPP members and
allies in support of marijuana policy reform, laws change. Another method to take action is to
distribute MPP brochures and handouts in your community to raise awareness of marijuanas
benefits (mpp.org, 2016).
For many years before I started to research about the topic of medical marijuana I had
always believed that this plant had very little to no significant value to my life and society. Part
of the reason is because of how the environment where I am raised influenced my thinking. In
my country of Vietnam, marijuana is strictly forbidden in any form and owning marijuana is
considered to be a serious crime. The people in Vietnam usually have negative opinions about
marijuana. There are many campaigns to stop the young generation from using marijuana
because the authorities list it as an addictive drug. This is a topic that is not commonly discussed
at the family dinner table and is usually ignored. I think that really limited my view on this issue

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and the term medical marijuana legalization was simply too far from the clear reality in front
of my eyes. I personally have never used medical marijuana and I do not know how the
experience feels or its effects on my body. But the research Ive done has shown that marijuana
can offer such medical benefits and it can even help cancer treatments. I truly feel impressed and
inspired by this plant. Marijuana is not something only drug addicts use, but this tiny plant can
support patients and help or save so many lives. I strongly disagree that marijuana possession
should be considered a serious crime because the addiction that it might create doesnt mean it
has to be fully destroyed down to the roots. Furthermore, I really admire companies like
Potbotics and MECKHAR because without their research, theres a high chance that I would not
have been able to find information for this research paper.
Marijuana should be legalized globally for medical purposes because of its remarkable
effects on the human body, and its also a revolutionary movement for the worlds economic
development in the 21st century. Medical marijuana legalization is slowly growing in many
nations around the globe and will surely continue to be a discussed topic in the next few years to
come. More and more people are realizing, the real crime is knowing marijuana can help others,
but doing nothing to support it. The world needs to give more attention to the medical side of
marijuana because there is absolutely no doubt, that it is a hidden gem.

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References
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