Two experts discuss the advantages and disadvantages of medical marijuana, with one side arguing that it should be legalized.

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Is marijuana a hazardous or beneficial drug? All of the arguments might be combined to get a response like, “a little of both.” But then the inquiries just multiply:

  • Does medical marijuana’s good outweigh its bad?
  • Legal medicines also have side effects; are marijuana’s any worse?
  • Are other medicines more effective than marijuana?
  • Does marijuana even do the good things proponents claim it does?

We asked two professionals to share their thoughts on medical marijuana as part of this story. But first, some history:

Some Cons of Medical Marijuana

Marijuana is highly addictive and has short-term negative effects such as memory loss and impairment in thinking. It might have serious long-term consequences, including lung cancer, an impaired immune system, and an increased risk of heart attack immediately after smoking it.

Some Pros of Medical Marijuana

We asked each participant to construct an essay and, if desired, to respond to the opponent’s argument. Neither was allowed to read the other’s initial argument until he had completed his own, and neither could see the other’s response before rebutting it.

Marijuana has been shown in studies to have positive health effects, such as reducing glaucoma and vomiting, relieving nausea and loss of appetite, and treating seizure disorders. Proponents claim it can help people who are undergoing adverse effects from AIDS or cancer medicines as well as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.

Official Positions

Marijuana is prohibited at the federal level. However, it is lawful in a few states. The federal government can crack down on providers in those states. Don’t blame you if you’re confused.

The American Medical Association urges that marijuana be kept on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act for the time being. According to the government, drugs in this category have a high potential for abuse, lack clinical usefulness, and lack accepted safety.

However, the AMA states that there is enough potential to warrant more research on the drug, and it encourages the National Institutes of Health to establish administrative mechanisms to make it easier for researchers to apply for grants and conduct well-designed clinical studies on the medical usefulness of cannabis.

Should marijuana be legal for specific medical purposes, as it is in some states? We reached out to two mental-health professionals for their thoughts. Here’s what they had to say. You may also participate in the debate here.

Pro Argument: Medical Marijuana Should Be Legal.

Marijuana is a bad drug, yet it may also be a fantastic medicine. Most medicines have this characteristic. Drugs can be utilized for therapeutic purposes as well as for euphoric and escapist reasons.

There is no doubt that marijuana should be considered a hazardous drug. It is cancerogenic, mood altering, motivation reducing, and life ruining. In comparison, the same may be said for such harmful medicines as Valium, opiates, diet pills, and even Tylenol when they are misused. When any medication is abused, it becomes an immediate and obvious threat.

mitch-wallick-5Dr. Mitch Wallick, Ph.D., C.A.P., F.A.B.F.C.E., C.M.H.P., is the executive director of CURE Addiction Recovery, a holistic drug rehabilitation center in North Palm Beach, Florida He has a doctorate in both counseling and addictions studies.)

Chemicals are neither good nor evil. Substances should not be evaluated morally. Rather, the benefit-risk ratio of usage versus nonuse must be our focus in this debate.

Most of us would agree that cocaine is a “bad drug.” It should be illegal! What many people don’t realize is that cocaine has a viable medical application in the field of reconstructive surgery. It’s an excellent topical anesthetic and a vasoconstrictor, which aids in blood coagulation. This is an excellent way to put cocaine to use.

However, when taken in a pill form and/or smoked as crack, it is extremely hazardous and can result in severe issues. The case for medical marijuana usage should be made the same way.

Marijuana is a powerful nausea and hunger suppressant. It’s extremely beneficial in treating cancer, HIV and hepatitis C, as well as glaucoma and other diseases. There’s no question that it has no recreational value; nevertheless, there can be little debate about its medical efficacy.

The real problem, in my view, is the person who uses drugs. My perspective is that I am strongly in support of medical marijuana and opposed to recreational marijuana—as well as all other substances.

earl-henslin-3-2Dr. Earl R. Henslin, PsyD, BcETTS, is a marriage, family, and child psychologist with the Christian counseling group Henslin and Associates in Brea, California; an instructor at Rosemead Graduate School of Psychology; and author of This Is Your Brain on Joy: How the New Science of Happiness Can Help You Feel Good and Be Happy:.

Con Argument: Medical Marijuana Should Be Illegal.

In 1996, California voters backed the use of medical marijuana for persons suffering from chronic pain, nausea, or other ailments for which they could not obtain alleviation from conventional medications. It was intended to assist patients with incurable cancer.

Tell us what you think! In the remarks area below, let us know your thoughts on medical marijuana.

  1. There are “No sound scientific studies” supporting the use of medical marijuana, according to the FDA. Why is there any debate? Any physician who prescribed an unapproved drug would lose his or her license. Why is this one medication allowed to be above the law? The state of California is knowingly flaunting federal statutes by allowing “medical marijuana.”
  2. Long-term marijuana usage has been linked to physical changes in the brain. The hippocampal volume of cannabis users wasversely associated with cumulative exposure to the drug in the left but not right hemisphere, according to one study – a finding that suggests “the left hippocampus may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of cannabis exposure and may be more closely related to the development of psychotic symptoms.”
  3. Atrial fibrillation should be considered when evaluating the cardiovascular risks of marijuana smoking. Physicians should be aware of this connection and thoroughly investigate patients who experience atrial fibrillation, dizziness or faintness as a result of marijuana use. When a young person without any predisposed factors develops atrial fibrillation, however, the possibility that it was caused by marijuana use should be investigated. Although the precise clinical impact of this association is unknown, its incidence in the general population is most likely underestimated.

This is a brief analysis. Is there any question about the need for FDA trials before a medicine may be used in the general population? Why aren’t cannabis drugs subjected to normal drug tests? Do we want scientific research or do we want to let people decide whether or not to use a particular medication on their own?

Rebuttals

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Dr. Henslin’s

Dr. Wallick draws an interesting parallel between cocaine and marijuana. The one-time usage of topical anesthetic cocaine is under the direct care of a physician, with high quality. A pharmaceutical company creates this topically effective anesthetic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, studies on medical marijuana are hampered by the researchers’ inability to acquire consistent and reliable THC samples. The respiratory effects of marijuana smoking are outweighing any potential benefits. Marijuana smoke, in fact, contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than conventional cigarette smoke.
Dr. Wallick’s

Marijuana isn’t a cure-all for anything. There is no doubt that it alleviates symptoms and makes patients feel more comfortable. It’s also true that marijuana has negative effects. So does most medicine. Consider the possibility of death when you listen to television advertisements warning about it. Aspirin, for example, may induce adverse side effects such as internal bleeding. That being said, I don’t think aspirin would be given approval by the FDA today.). Consider how aspirin can produce adverse side effects like internal bleeding.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov/Pexels

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