The Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana: What You Need to Know

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In the era of many states having legalized medical marijuana and more on the way to doing so, it’s vital to have available data. It’s important to make informed and well-researched choices. It can be an emotional topic, but it doesn’t have to be.

The controversy over marijuana has loomed large, but the battle seems sure to come to an end. According to a recent Pew research poll, 62% of Americans approve of legalizing cannabis. That’s 6 out of 10 Americans. The stigma is no longer what it was, especially for medical purposes.

However, like all things involving health, there are pros and cons to everything. Having the information accessible and at the ready can be key to making the right choice.

Here are the claimed pros and cons of medical marijuana:

Medical Marijuana Pros

Medical Conditions eased by use of Medical Marijuana:

1. Cancer

Medical Marijuana has been known to help with the effects of chemo, including helping with the nausea that typically is a side effect of chemo. It also helps with the pain caused by chemo, as well as the illness itself.

2. Arthritis/Joint Pain

Medical marijuana has been used by patients suffering from arthritis and joint pain. It helps to reduce pain and ease inflammation that is a big part of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis. Patients have also reported that marijuana helps them sleep, which had been difficult before due to inflammation and pain.

3. Insomnia

Patients that use marijuana to treat insomnia have reported that it reduces sleep latency. In other words, it helps to bring on sleep faster. Both THC and CBD dominant cannabis have been reported to be effective because of the ability to induce drowsiness.

4. Epilepsy

Epilepsy is the 4th most common neurological disorder and is characterized by unpredictable seizures. These seizures range from mild to extreme (which could cause total lack of consciousness and awareness) and vary from person-to-person. Medical marijuana (in particular, CBD dominant) has been known to be very effective at reducing the severity and the frequency of seizures.

5. IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)

IBD is a blanket name that covers a wide range of digestive disorders, including Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. Medical Marijuana use in patients with IBD has been shown to help with pain, depression, and general outlook on life. Because of that, patients have shown an uptick in being able to work and have reported better social functioning.

6. Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that attacks your nervous system, spinal cord, and your brain. Cannabis use as a treatment for this disease has been shown to ease stiffness and muscle spasms. It’s also been shown to help ease sleep problems that are brought on by the symptoms of MS.

7. HIV/Aids

Since the early days of the Aids epidemic, marijuana has been used to help relieve symptoms associated with the disease. Even though there’s been great advancement in in treatment, Cannabis is still widely used to treat symptoms, because it’s been shown to increase appetite (thereby helping with wasting disease, often associated with people infected with HIV), help reduce pain, nausea and helps to ease the anxiety associated with an incurable (as of yet) disease.

8. End-of-Life Care (Hospice)

Since there’s so much involved with palliative care – including pain and spiritual issues – cannabis has been shown to be a very effective treatment to help with this time in a person’s life. As previously discussed, cannabis has shown to help with pain, to ease depression, alleviate sleep problems, and manage anxiety. People have also reported some lessening of existential suffering during their end-of-life care.

9. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a very common eye condition that can cause optical nerve damage and high pressure and, in some cases, can lead to blindness. Advances in surgical procedures in the last 40 years have greatly reduced the risk of blindness. However, the amount of effective topical drugs is still limited so patients have turned to cannabis to help lower the pressure when the topical medicines fail.

10. PTSD

People with PTSD have claimed that using cannabis has helped to relieve anxiety and insomnia (see above). It’s also been reported that it helps to alleviate bad nightmares that are often associated with PTSD.

Other Benefits of Medical Marijuana

Some people in states that have legalized marijuana have found that their real estate values have increased. There are also tax benefits and more employment opportunities. And the money these states are making and putting back into the economy is up in the hundreds of millions – with California and Colorado into the billions

Of course, there are always two sides to every argument and there are reasons why it’s taking so long to legalize it in every state and on the federal level. Let’s explore what those reasons are.

Cons:

Possibility of Addiction, Lack of Standards in Quality, Banks Refuse to Work in Cannabis Industry, Lack of Research, Racial Inequality, Illegal at Federal Level

1. Possibility of Addiction

Like any mind-altering substance, including prescribed medications, there is a danger of becoming addicted. Marijuana is no different.

2. Lack of Standards in Quality and Production

Because it’s still illegal on the federal level, there is no testing from the EPA or the FDA, which means this lack in standards could expose cannabis users to unwanted toxins. States have attempted to create their own regulations and safety standards, but without federal oversight, states can get overwhelmed and let things fall by the wayside. There are groups that have worked to bring consistency and standardization to the cannabis industry, including the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS), the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), and others.

Over time, organizations throughout the industry are understanding that a more thorough approach to standards-setting would be more able to deal with their standardization needs, from planting and cultivating to dispensing, testing, and even patient education.

3. Most Banks Refuse to Work With the Cannabis Industry

As a result of banks refusing to work in the industry, this means dispensaries and patients are carrying a lot of cash – which makes businesses a prime target for thieves. While some banks may choose to do business with a legal cannabis operator, the government requires them to file a suspicious activity report for each transaction involving a marijuana business. This applies not just to the marijuana operator entrepreneur themselves, but also to any company it interacts with. This could be cleaners or accountants or delivery drives. The result is a lot of bureaucratic red tape and expenses that most banks just don’t want to deal with. And the banks that do? Well, they pass that cost on as giant fees to cannabis firms, most of which then opt to work with cash only.

4. Lack of Research

Because it’s illegal on the federal level, there’s only one approved growing site in the United States, which means that the opposition points to a lack of data, and the information that gets out to the general public is often skewed.

5. Racial Inequality

The cannabis industry, as of yet, is not very diverse. Some cities in California have introduced measures to reduce racial inequality, but have not yet been successful. Many consumers of color have hesitated to embrace the legal market because of the lack of diversity and stereotypes. 

6. It’s Illegal on the Federal Level

Until the day comes that cannabis is legalized federally, it’s considered a Schedule One controlled substance. This means that even if its prescribed in one state, if it’s carried over the border to another state that hasn’t yet legalized, then it becomes a federal crime.

When making a decision about medical marijuana, it’s best to have all available information. As with anything, there are pros and cons, but it’s a personal choice. Research all the data that’s important to you, and make a decision that’s right for you. It’s still a young industry, and will continue to grow and change with tweaks along the way.