Medical Marijuana, Legitimate Treatment or Excuse to Get High?
The Law and Medical Marijuana
Twenty-three states in the US have passed laws allowing Marijuana to be used as a medical treatment. Each state has it's own limitations on how the medicine can be obtained and how much can be grown or possessed. Some states have specific conditions that cannabis can be used to treat, others leave it entirely to the discretion of the patient's doctor.
In spite of these State laws, Federal law still considers Marijuana to be a Schedule I substance which means it is deemed to present a high risk for abuse, it has not been found safe to use, and it is not recognized as having any medicinal value. So, patients who use medical marijuana are in a bit of a legal gray area.
But Does Medical Marijuana Really Work?
Proponents of medical cannabis say it is a safe and natural herb that can treat symptoms of disease ranging from cancer and AIDS to anxiety and insomnia.
Opponents claim that it's too dangerous to use, it is not FDA approved and it's benefits are unsubstantiated. They fear that it can lead to harder drug use, have a corrupting influence on youth and many claim that medical use is often only a front for recreational use of marijuana.
California's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, with its headquarters at UC San Diego, was established to study whether marijuana has therapeutic value. The center also conducted studies Sacramento and San Francisco to assess the value of cannabis as medicine.
This groundbreaking research on medical marijuana has brought new scientific data to the controversial topic of medical marijuana. The state funded project was approved in 1999, three years after California became the first state to pass a law allowing the use of medical marijuana in 1996. The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research spent over 8 million dollars on the comprehensive research. It found that marijuana may be beneficial for patients suffering from nerve damage, HIV, and strokes among other things.
Seven trials have been completed as of 2012 and California researchers have found that cannabis does have value in medical therapy. Separate clinical trials were conducted by Dr. Donald Abrams at UC San Francisco and Dr. Ronald Ellis at UC San Diego on HIV and AIDS patients who were suffering from nerve damage. Both studies found that patients got relief from their pain using pot, even when they were already using prescription drugs for pain.
Director of the MS center at UC San Diego, Jody Corey-Bloom, found that patients using medical cannabis achieved significant relief from the pain of spasticity.
Medical Marijuana Without the High
Dr. Barth Wilsey conducted a study to determine whether pain relief could be achieved with marijuana without the the patient getting high. Wilsey found that patients with discomfort from nerve damage achieved comparable relief from pot with the psychoactive ingredients reduced or removed. Wilsey is embarking on a new study on the effect of cannabis on patients with spinal cord injury. It's being funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Even after all these studies, which showed promise for the medical value of cannabis, federal agencies put most of their support behind studies concerned with marijuana abuse rather than any possible medical benefits.
While federal authorities were cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries in California in 2013, some researchers were wondering if any progress had been made in the quest to document the medical value of cannabis. Dr. Abrams has been quoted as saying "I don't think science drives the train here. It's a difficult environment at the current time to obtain funding."
States Where Cannabis is Legal for Recreational Use
- District of Columbia
These states have enacted legislation that allows at least some use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
What's Your Opinion on Medical Marijuana?
Do you support the use of Medical Marijuana?
© 2012 Sherry Hewins