About eight months ago, I moved to California from Texas – two states that have very different viewpoints when it comes to legalizing medical marijuana. The drug seems to be everywhere here, smoked by people walking across the street or consumed in an edible form at get-togethers. But for those I know who have used it for pain management, they can’t sing its praises enough. Their favorable attitudes towards it led me to look into this issue further and learn why medical marijuana has become such a hot-button issue in our society.
Changing Times, Changing Arguments
Over the years, marijuana has increasingly been prescribed and used for a variety of medical reasons, including pain relief. But its use remains controversial; in the United States, it is classified as a Class I controlled substance, which makes it illegal under federal law. (Drugs in this category are deemed to have a high abuse potential, no accepted medical use and lack of acceptable safety). Despite this fact, half of all states in the U.S. have approved the prescribing of marijuana for medical purposes.
Legalizing weed for medical reasons is viewed favorably by many Americans, including members of the medical community and Congress. Some of their arguments include:
- Marijuana is far safer than alcohol, which is legal
- Medical marijuana provides a safe and natural treatment for many types of chronic pain
- Medical marijuana helps reduce or control symptoms associated with a variety of illnesses, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer and multiple sclerosis
- Other prescription drugs on the market – Vicodin, OxyContin and Valium – are far more addictive
- Marijuana has been used for centuries as a medicinal agent and yielded positive results
For every person who supports the legalization of medical marijuana, there is another who strongly opposes it. Arguments from the opposition include:
- Frequent use can impair cognitive ability and short-term memory
- Insufficient evidence to support medical marijuana as an effective pain relieving agent
- Children would have easier access to a drug that could hurt them
- Marijuana carries a risk of abuse and addiction
- Could lead to a lower quality of life, as well as health problems and financial issues
- Is an excuse for drug legalization and recreational use
Do Your Own Research
Regardless of which side you fall on, there are potential dangers and side effects when using any pain-relieving drug. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice; educate yourself further about the risks and benefits and, above all, consult with your doctor to determine whether or not medical marijuana’s really the best pain treatment option for you.
Additional Reading: Weed Gets a “Fancy” New Name: Craft Cannabis