Can You Get The Affects Of Cbd From Smoking Flower Medical Marijuana – The Debate Rages On

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Medical Marijuana – The Debate Rages On

Marijuana is also known as pot, grass and weed, but its official name is actually hemp. It comes from the leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa plant. It is considered an illegal substance in the United States and many countries, and possession of marijuana is a crime punishable by law. The FDA places marijuana on Schedule I, a substance that has a very high potential for abuse and has no proven medical use. Over the years, several studies have claimed that certain substances found in marijuana have medicinal uses, particularly in terminal illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. This has sparked a fierce debate about the pros and cons of using medical marijuana. To settle this debate, the Institute of Medicine released a landmark 1999 IOM report titled Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Scientific Base. The report was comprehensive but did not give a clear yes or no answer. Opposing camps of the medical marijuana issue often cite part of the report in their defense arguments. Although the report clarified many things, it never settled the dispute definitively.

Let’s take a look at the issues that support why medical marijuana should be legalized.

(1) Marijuana is a naturally occurring herb and has been used for thousands of years from South America to Asia as a herbal medicine. In this day and age, when all-natural and organic are important health buzzwords, a naturally occurring herb like marijuana may be more appealing and safer to consumers than synthetic drugs.

(2) Marijuana has strong therapeutic potential. Several studies, as summarized in the IOM report, have shown that cannabis can be used as an analgesic, e.g. for pain relief. A few studies have shown that THC, a component of marijuana, is effective in treating chronic pain experienced by cancer patients. However, studies of acute pain, such as that experienced during surgery and trauma, lack conclusive reports. A few studies, also summarized in the IOM report, have shown that certain components of marijuana have antiemetic properties and are therefore effective against nausea and vomiting, which are common side effects of cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Some researchers are convinced that cannabis has some therapeutic potential against neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Specific compounds derived from marijuana have strong therapeutic potential. Cannabidiol (CBD), the main component of marijuana, has been shown to have antipsychotic, anticancer and antioxidant properties. Other cannabinoids have been shown to prevent high intraocular pressure (IOP), a major risk factor for glaucoma. Medicines that contain active ingredients present in marijuana, but have been synthetically produced in a laboratory, have been approved by the US FDA. One example is Marinol, an antiemetic indicated for nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy. Its active ingredient is dronabinol, a synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

(3) One of the main proponents of medical marijuana is the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a US-based organization. Many medical professional societies and organizations expressed their support. For example, in its 2008 position paper, the American College of Physicians recommended a reevaluation of marijuana’s Schedule I classification. The ACP also expresses its strong support for research into the therapeutic role of marijuana and exemption from federal criminal prosecution; civil liability; or professional sanctions for physicians who prescribe or dispense medical marijuana under state law. Similarly, protection from criminal or civil penalties for patients who use medical marijuana, as permitted by state law.

(4) Medical marijuana is legally used in many developed countries. Argument: If they can, why can’t we? is another strong point. Some countries, including Canada, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, Israel, and Finland, have legalized the therapeutic use of marijuana under strict prescription control. Some states in the US also allow exemptions.

Here are the arguments against medical marijuana.

(1) Lack of safety and efficacy data. Drug regulations are based on safety first. The safety of marijuana and its ingredients still needs to be established first. Efficiency comes second. Even if marijuana has some beneficial health effects, the benefits would have to outweigh the risks for it to be considered for medical use. Unless marijuana is proven to be better (safer and more effective) than drugs currently on the market, its approval for medical use may be a long way off. According to Robert J. Meyer of the Department of Health and Human Services, having access to a drug or treatment without knowing how to use it or even if it is effective does no one any good. Simply having access without information about safety, efficacy and appropriate use does not help patients.

(2) Unknown chemical constituents. Medical marijuana is readily available and affordable only in herbal form. Like other herbs, marijuana belongs to the category of botanicals. Unpurified botanicals, however, face many problems, including batch-to-batch consistency, dose determination, potency, shelf life, and toxicity. According to the IOM report, the future of marijuana as medicine lies only in its isolated constituents, cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives. It would take so much time and money to fully define the various components of marijuana that the cost of the resulting drugs would be prohibitive. Currently, no pharmaceutical company appears to be interested in investing money in isolating more therapeutic components from marijuana beyond those already available on the market.

(3) Potential for abuse. Marijuana or cannabis is addictive. It may not be as addictive as hard drugs like cocaine; however, it cannot be denied that there is a potential for abuse of marijuana-related substances. A few studies have proven this, as summarized in the IOM report.

(4) Lack of a secure delivery system. The most common form of marijuana consumption is smoking. Given current trends in anti-smoking legislation, this form of delivery will never be approved by health authorities. Reliable and safe delivery systems in the form of vaporizers, nebulizers or inhalers are still in the testing phase.

(5) Relief of symptoms, not cure. Even if marijuana has therapeutic effects, it only relieves the symptoms of certain diseases. It does not treat or cure these diseases. Given that it is effective against these symptoms, there are already drugs available that work the same or even better, without the side effects and abuse risks associated with marijuana.

A 1999 IOM report could not resolve the medical marijuana debate with the scientific evidence available at the time. The report definitely discouraged the use of smoked marijuana, but favored the use of marijuana through a medical inhaler or vaporizer. In addition, the report also recommends compassionate use of marijuana under strict medical supervision. In addition, he called for more funding for research into the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids.

So what stands in the way of clarifying the issues raised by the IOM report? The health authorities don’t seem interested in another review. Limited data are available, and any that are available are biased toward safety questions about the harmful effects of smoked marijuana. The available efficacy data comes mainly from studies on synthetic cannabinoids (e.g. THC). This difference in data makes it difficult to objectively assess the risks and benefits.

Clinical studies on marijuana are few and difficult to conduct due to limited funding and strict regulations. Because of the complex legalities involved, very few pharmaceutical companies invest in cannabinoid research. In many cases, it is not clear how to define medical marijuana, as advocated and opposed by many groups. Does it only refer to the use of the botanical product of marijuana, or does it also include synthetic cannabinoid components (eg THC and derivatives)? Synthetic cannabinoids (eg Marinol) available on the market are extremely expensive, pushing people to the more affordable cannabinoid in the form of marijuana. Of course, the issue is further clouded by conspiracy theories involving the pharmaceutical industry and drug regulators.

In short, the future of medical marijuana and the resolution of the debate would depend on more comprehensive and comparable scientific research. An update of the IOM report is very much needed as soon as possible.

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