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Legalizing Medical Marijuana

In recent years, the publics opinion on marijuana has begun to shift from a viewpoint of

marijuana being a gateway drug and harmful to ones body, to a realization that when used

medicinally, marijuana or cannabis, can actually provide more good rather than harm. Through

endless studies, research, and experiments, doctors have discovered that medicinal marijuana can

help people who suffer from various diseases.

In an article written by Itay Lotan called Cannabis (Medical Marijuana) Treatment for

Motor and Non-Motor Symptoms of Parkinson Disease: An Open-Label Observational Study,

Lotan goes into great detail on the variety of benefits that comes from marijuana for people

suffering from Parkinsons. Notoriously, marijuana has always been seen as something

commonly used by delinquents and criminals. People who suffer from Parkinsons must deal

with a wide range of brutal symptoms on a daily basis, thus making everyday activities

incredibly difficult for them. At a clinic called the Rabin Medical Center, twenty-eight people

who had Parkinsons attended a study in which they would smoke cannabis in attempts to see the

effect it would have on their severe tremors and pain. After the patients inhaled about 0.5 grams

of marijuana they were watched to see what would happen. The results showed that after the

cannabis consumption, there was great improvements in the patients tremors, rigidity, and

bradykinesia. Patients also reported they were able to sleep much better with the help of

cannabis. Not only was there findings of improvements with motor symptoms, but patients said

their level of pain that they were experiencing reduced significantly. These findings should make

people reconsider their stances on the legalization of medicinal marijuana seeing as how

beneficial it can be for people who suffer from Parkinsons Disease and are constantly struggling

to get through each and every day. (Lotan 41-44)

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A predominant way to consume marijuana is by smoking it. This may raise some health

concerns for people as it is well known the effect that cigarettes can have on the lungs. Some

people may become weary on whether or not it should become legalized because of the unknown

health effects that may arise short-term and long-term. This a valid point from the people who

oppose the legalization because there is still so much we dont know about cannabis. Research

has only just begun on marijuana therefore leaving the long term effects of cannabis to be

unknown and a mystery to the world.

Some forms of consumption prove to be healthier than other. Such as in an article written

by Jason Biehl, he breaks down the different consumption methods and the pros and cons of

each. He says, A bong, although expensive, is one of the healthier options as the water can trap

some of the more harmful products of combustion (597). Biehl then goes on to say With a

hookah many people can smoke at the same time and there are many different flavors, but a

hookah when mixed with tobacco, becomes increasingly dangerous and damaging to the lungs

making the hookah the worst form of consumption (598). At the end of his article Biehl

mentions that there has been no ties to an increase in poor lung health with cannabis smoking.

However; there are some short-term effects that may come about from smoking marijuana

regularly such as, a phlegmy cough, and a wheezy cough. Based off this research that shows the

close to nothing effect that marijuana has on a persons lungs, it is just another reason why

people should begin to look at the legalization of marijuana differently.

A major concern amongst the older part of the population is that if marijuana does in fact

become legalized, then they fear the younger generations will become addicted and even worse

that by using cannabis it will turn into gateway drug leading kids to go down a dangerous path of

much harder drugs. Due to this creating a stir in the community, an article was written by Esther
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Choo called RIH Physician Finds Legalizing Medical Marijuana Does Not Increase Use Among

Adolescents, in which he researched whether or not these assumptions hold any value and if we

should be worried about the younger generations in the future should the legalization of

marijuana go through. This study was done by using data from the Youth Risk Behavioral

Surveillance Survey between the years of 1991 and 2011. The sample size was estimated to be

around the eleven million mark, nearly at twelve million. About 20.9% of students said they had

in fact used marijuana within the past month. There was found to be no statistical difference in

marijuana usage before and after the law was passed to legalize the drug. This study also

conducted a probability test to inquire about whether or not it was likely for numbers to rise after

the legalization and there was no increase found then either. Overall, it seems as if based off the

study that there was no certain correlation to marijuana being legal and a spike in the number of

kids who begin to use cannabis. (Choo 68)

Driving sober requires the drivers full attention in order help alert and avoid any possible

dangers that may arise on the road. Driving while intoxicated is not only illegal but incredibly

dangerous and just out right stupid. When someone is drunk and trying to drive, it becomes quite

obvious as they speed, swerve all over the road and have delayed reactions to sudden situations

on the road. This bring us to the question of; What are the risks of driving while high from

marijuana? As cannabis become legal in more and more states the dangers of driving high could

become more and more prevalent. An article written by Raymond Bingham and Jean Shope

called Substance-Involved Driving: Predicting Driving After Using Alcohol, Marijuana, and

Other Drugs, it discusses a study done showing just what could happen when a person tries to

drive while under the influence of cannabis. They completed this study by using telephone

survey data and a state driver history record. The findings showed that although ones driving
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does become impaired from marijuana, the drug has more of a minimal effect on driving when

compared to alcohol. The research showed that results do vary from person to person based on if

they are male or female, how often they use marijuana, and also how that persons body reacts to

cannabis being in their system. It showed that if a person were to consume a larger amount of

marijuana then to get behind the wheel and drive, they had a much greater chance of high-risk

driving. Driving under the influence of anything is definitely not recommended and should not

be done, however; marijuana is safer to drive on compared to alcohol. (Bingham and Shope 515-


Curiosity is something that drives people to try new things and have new experiences in

life. Many people growing up hear a wide range of stories from people about the experiences

they had when they first tried marijuana and what its like to be high. Marcel Bonn-Miller

created a self-reported article using information from people who are regular medical cannabis

users and turned his findings into quite the informative and descriptive piece on what people feel

when under the influence of cannabis. According to Bonn-Miller, most of the participants in the

study reported using cannabis for anxiety, chronic pain, stress, insomnia and depression. Another

one-quarter of the participants reported using cannabis for appetite, headaches, nausea, muscle

spasms and PTSD. It was reported that cannabis was moderately to mostly helpful for the

patients. Also, it was shown that depressive symptoms, and appetite gain were positively

associated with cannabis use. Another interesting find was that as greater cannabis use problems

are indicative of more frequent and dependent use; cannabis use may attenuate insomnia and

suicidal ideation/behaviors. (Bonn-Miller 27) People with issues eating said that they found a

significant increase in their appetite. These findings from the article show those variety of

positive effects that come from medicinal marijuana. (Bonn-Miller 23-30)

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As of now medical cannabis is legal in twenty-nine out of fifty states in the United States.

Its legal recreationally in eight out of the twenty-nine thats its legal medically. When the

discussion of legalizing marijuana comes up, people are generally very one sided. Either all for it

and ignoring the possible health effects, or highly against it and ignoring the horrible health

effects that come from both tobacco and alcohol, both which are legal substances in the United

States. With any good in the United States there is a tax on that item therefore generating revenue

for the government. In an article written by J.C. Van Ours, he discusses the serious taxation that

could be place on cannabis creating a great source of income for the government. He also says,

This would make life more comfortable for cannabis users, remove criminal organizations from

the scene, allow for the possibility of quality control, provide governments with tax revenues and

make it possible for researchers to collect empirical evidence (872). Later in the article Van

Ours says There has been a major shift in support of legalizing marijuana and the majority of

liberals, 18-29-year-olds, voters in western states, Democrats, Independents, moderates and men

now support legalizing cannabis (873). Millions of Americans use cannabis not just for fun but

because they find it extremely useful. With this trend of growing support for the legalization of

marijuana, it is only a matter of time before it becomes legal both medicinally and recreationally

across the United States. (Van Ours 872-873)

Yet another thing medicinal marijuana can help people overcome, is the harsh symptoms

that HIV positive people suffer from. HIV is a horrible disease with no cure so anything that we

can give the public to help them cope should be greatly considered. In a 2004 Canadian study,

Furler et al found that 43% of people infected with HIV used marijuana and that 67% if these

patients used it for medicinal purposes. The medicinal purposes were appetite stimulation,

sleep/relaxation, nausea and vomiting, pain, anxiety/depression, and for a source energy.
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Physicians are already juggling the risks and benefits of giving a wide variety of medications to

their patients. Medical marijuana is a way to alleviate the genuine pain and suffering that some of

our HIV-positive patients experience. (Cinti 344) Although prescribed pills can provide the

same help that marijuana can, these pills become highly addictive and people begin to depend on

these pills that are much more harmful to the body than medicinal cannabis can be.

While there is some concern that marijuana may be a gateway drug that leads to use of

harder drugs like cocaine and heroin, the 1999 IOM report stated that there was no

evidence that giving the drug to sick people would increase illicit drug use in the general

population. Nor is marijuana a gateway drug that prompts patients to use harder drugs

like cocaine and heroin. (Cinti 343)

This article from the Journal of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care just

helps in solidifying the underlying fact that legalizing medical marijuana nationwide will provide

more good than harm to the sick.

For some people, the process of going through cancer treatments is more taxing on the

body than the cancer itself. The chemotherapy can cause people to become extremely nauseous,

lose their desire to eat, suffer from depression, and the incredible pain that comes from the

chemotherapy treatments. While there are a variety of different prescribed medications out there

that doctors can offer their patients, the list of pills the patient will have to take could seem

endless. An easy way to eliminate all these medications is through medicinal marijuana.

According to Abrams DI article called, Integrating Cannabis into Clinical Care, he

discusses all the benefits that medical marijuana will have on cancer patients. Anorexia, early

satiety, weight loss, and cachexia are some of the most daunting symptom management

challenges faced by the practicing oncologist. (Abrams 20) Abrams conducted a small trial with
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two groups in which to see what would happen when cancer patients were given cannabis.

Abrams said that In the megestrol monotherapy group, appetite increased in 75% and weight in

11% compared to 49% and 3%respectively, in the oral THC group. (21) These finding only add

on to the fact that cannabis has the potential to provide much more good rather than harm for

people in need.

In another article by Laura Borgelt called The Pharmacologic and Clinic Effects of

Medical Cannabis she also mentions how marijuana will help people with eating disorders just

like Abrams talked about. Laura also discusses the effects cannabis has on people with muscle

spasms and pain. In a study conducted by Borgelt, she found that There was a significant

improvement in pain and stiffness, an enhancement of relaxation and a feeling of well-being

(Borgelt 49). Another study was conducted in which a large group was gathered and a double

blind, randomized placebo-controlled study included 160 patients with multiple sclerosis who

experience spasms and tremors consistently. The results showed that The symptom score

improved in both groups with no statistically significant difference, spasticity scores were

significantly reduced when compared to the placebo group (Borgelt 59). Again, these facts and

statistics, help in solidifying a stance that the legalization of medicinal marijuana is for the better


In an article written by David Juurlink called Medicinal Cannabis: Time to Lighten

Up? he mentions that More research is clearly needed on the adverse effects of cannabis, and

smoked cannabis in particular (Juurlink 4). Although he makes that statements he also goes on

to say that However, from a pharmacologic perspective, the direct toxic effects of cannabinoids

are simply dwarfed by those opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Many patients

are injured or die every year from the medications we prescribe for pain (Juurlink 7). Juurlink is
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a physician who looks out for his patients and takes each patients situations case-by-case and

looks to find the best possible form of treatment for each.

He says that Instead, we should do what we do every day: make treatment decisions in a

patient-specific context, after balancing the risks and benefits of the available options. If

we do that thoughtfully, prescribing cannabis will sometimes be the right thing to do

(Juurlink 11).

This is a great point he makes because he realizes every case is different but in some situations,

prescribing cannabis may be the best option even if it is one of the least desired by the patients

due to the unknowns that come from cannabis.

The discussion of whether or not cannabis should become legal medicinally has been

going on for years now and will continue to be discussed. Based off the research conducted,

medical marijuana will be able to provide a sufficient amount of good for people who need it as

it helps them live a more manageable life while getting rid of the harmful, toxic prescribed

medications most doctors recommend.

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Works Cited

Biehl, Jason. Cannabis Smoking in 2015: A Concern for Lung Health? Chest, vol. 148, no. 3, 1

Sep. 2015, pp. 596-606. FSU Online Library, doi: 10.1378/chest.15-0447.

Bingham, Raymond and Shope, Jean. Substance-Involved Driving: Predicting Driving after

Using Alcohol, Marijauna, and Other Drugs. Traffic Injury Prevention, vol. 9, no. 6, 10

Apr. 2008, pp. 515-526. FSU Online Library, doi: 10.1080/15389580802273698.

Bonn-Miller, Marcel. Self-Reported Cannabis Use Characteristics, Patterns and Helpfulness

Among Medical Cannabis Users. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse,

vol. 40, no.1, 1 Jan. 2014, pp. 23-30. FSU Online Library.

Borgelt, Laura. The Pharmacologic and Clinic Effects of Medical Cannabis. Pharmacotherapy

vol. 33, no. 2, 1 Feb 2013, pp. 195-209. FSU online Library, doi: 10.1002/phar.1187.

Choo, Esther. RIH physician finds legalizing medical marijuana does not increase use among

adolescents. Rhode Island medical journal. vol. 97, no. 5, 01 May. 2014, pp. 68. FSU

online Library, PMID: 24960933

Cinti, Sandro MD. Medical Marijuana in HIV-Positive Patients: What Do We Know? Journal

of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, vol. 8, no. 6, 1 Dec. 2009,

pp. 342-346. FSU Online Library, doi: 10.1177.

DI, Abrams. Integrating Cannabis into Clinical Cancer Care. Current Oncology (Toronto), vol.

23, 1 Mar. 2016, pp. S14. FSU Online Library.

Juurlink, David. Medical Cannabis: Time to Lighten Up? CMAJ: Canadian Medical

Association Journal, vol. 186, no. 12, 2 Sep, 2014, pp. 897-898. FSU Online Library, doi:

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Lotan, Itay. Cannabis (Medical Marijuana) Treatment for Motor and Non-Motor Symptoms of

Parkinson Disease: An Open-Label Observational Study. Clinical Neuropharmacology,

vol. 37, no. 2, 1 Mar. 2014, pp. 41-44. FSU Online Library, doi:


Van Ours, J.C. The Long and Winding Road to Cannabis Legalization. Addiction (Abingdon,

England), vol. 107, no. 5, 2012. pp. 872-873. FSU Online Library.