Legalization of marijuana for medical purposes has been proposed to help those who have severe illnesses or pain. While I myself am not a user of marijuana, I have seen the effects first hand of what it does to people. I do have an uncle who is fighting an extremely painful and evasive cancer so I know what it is like to have a relative in pain or suffering from a severe illness. Many people argue that medical marijuana will be beneficial to such people, but this is not the case.
Rather, corruption, legal conflicts, and potential abuse along with alternatives provided by continuing research lead the to the conclusion that marijuana should not be allowed as a treatment in the United States because of issues that have arisen with marijuana, as well as the dangers and risks associated with it. To fully understand the medical marijuana controversy, some basic information about it and why people are favoring it as a medical solution are needed. The whole issue began in 1996 when California voters passed Proposition 215.
This allowed for the sale and medical use of marijuana for patients with severe illness or pain The main support for using marijuana for medical reasons would be to treat pain in patients with severe illness or those who are terminally ill. A few such illnesses would include AIDS/(HIV), arthritis, cancer, epilepsy, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, (Medical). Even though the intentions of using the drug as a medical option are good, the problems make the option it more harmful than beneficial.
The biggest problem facing the legalization of marijuana is that the Cannabis Clinics, which are the Marijuana Distribution Centers, are targets of corruption. In a January 17, 2007 DEA press release, the U. S Drug Enforcement Administration spoke out about the centers when DEA Acting agent in charge said, “Today’s enforcement operations show that these establishments are nothing more than drug trafficking organizations bringing criminal activities to our neighborhoods and drugs near the children and schools”(qtd. In Medical 2009).
Another official, Tom Bearden from Colorado stated on PBS: The new industry is medical marijuana, specifically, the commercial dispensaries that have opened in neighborhoods all over the state. At last count, Denver alone had over 300 clinics. More than the number of Starbucks is the oft-quoted statistic. Some residents are concerned the shops could lead to increased crime and encourage loitering near their homes. The dispensary industry has blossomed virtually overnight, with few regulations or rules, and left politicians at the state and local level scrambling to catch up(qtd in Marijuana).
With dispensaries popping up on all the street corners people will start questioning the legitimate motive behind these explosive uprisings, the last thing the government needs or wants is to create an uproar of distrust and fear of safety throughout the general public. From this we can see the very negative effects the medical marijuana dispensaries would have on the surrounding communities. Another problem is that doctors are put in a tight position in regard to recommending medical marijuana.
The Office of National Drug Control and Policy made a statement in 1996 policy titled “The Administration’s Response to the Passage of California Proposition 215”. Which stated, “A practitioner’s action of recommending or prescribing Schedule 1 controlled substances is not consistent with the ‘public interests’(as that phrase is used in the Controlled Substances Act) and will lead to administrative action by the Drug Enforcement Administration to revoke the practitioner’s registration’(qtd. in Medical).
Even though California passed proposition 215 to legalize the use of medical marijuana, the Office of National Drug Control still does not agree with this decision, this creates an issue because doctors are then put into the position of advocating for the patient and following the Drug Administration’s rules without causing conflict. Denver City councilman Charlie Brown, stated “that it is like picking your teeth with a rattle snake. If you have ever tried it you know it is extremely hard to do” (Marijuana).
Not only does the medical marijuana option have these legal conflicts, but it also has dangers and risks. The biggest danger is the fact that the results of marijuana use are worse than the supposed “cure” that it is supposed to be, because it has many harmful chemicals in it. According to the U. S DEA, smoked marijuana contains more than four-hundred different kinds of chemicals, including most of the hazardous chemicals found in tobacco smoke. One example is that there is four times the amount of tar in a marijuana cigarette than in a normal tobacco cigarette (Medical 2009). As you can clearly see, these can reate even more health problems, such as cancer, and research has shown that the amount of tar in a normal cigarette causes a person to lose 11 minutes of their life, that is 44 minutes every time someone wants to smoke weed (Marijuana: Facts). On average a smoker that has started smoking when they turn 18 lose around 14 years of their lives due to complications from smoking. Another negative association marijuana is that marijuana can be addictive, even though very few people can become addicted to marijuana the few that do can suffer extreme consequences, “some frequent, heavy marijuana users develop “tolerance” to its effects.
This means they need larger and larger amounts of marijuana to get the same desired effects as they used to get from smaller amounts” (Marijuana: Facts). This can cause an even worse outcome, which is a yearning for harder drugs. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine published a report stating, “In summary, although few marijuana users develop dependency, some do” (Medical). Even though they say only some people become addicted, that is still too high a risk. Because of all the problems and dangers associated with marijuana, there are more beneficial ways to help citizens with a severe illness.
The better alternative to the medical marijuana controversy is to continue research in finding other methods to help people with illnesses. Researching other methods have been beneficial in the past few years. Since 1990, Scientists have discovered and created over 300 completely medicines, vaccines, and biologics approved by the FDA to treat over one hundred and fifty conditions (Saving). All of these were created with safety in mind, which is more than I can say for medical marijuana. This shows a greater impact on the U. S through research than if we started to allow medical marijuana.
Also, many new innovative medicines make it possible to prevent or slow the progress of many diseases to avoid costly hospitalization and invasive surgery. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of hospital days fell by 56%. As a result, Americans avoided 206 million days of hospital care in 2000 alone because of our investment in health care (Saving). But even though reports of medical discoveries are in the news nearly every day, new cures, treatments, prevention approaches and diagnostics are actually the products of a long and arduous process” (Fulfilling the Promise).
Cynthia Kenyon a Ph. D stated: Americans have benefited from tremendous progress in medical research over the past 60 years. Today, people are living longer and healthier lives thanks in significant part to NIH funded research conducted by physicians and scientists at the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals. Scientists’ knowledge of disease is growing rapidly and today they are tackling diseases more complex than ever before such as like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia ( qtd in Saving). I have personally witnessed the positive effects of such research.
When my Uncle was in the middle of his battle with cancer, he underwent many extensive treatments. He made significant progress through many months while undergoing chemo and taking various medications. Thanks to the medical research done by scientists, my Uncle is still alive to this day, years after the doctors said he should have lost his life by. If my Uncle had chosen to do nothing but sit back and smoke weed, he would not only still have the cancer but he could have developed even more health problems and needed invasive surgery, and probably would not be here today.
The medical marijuana controversy will continue to be an issue for many years to come, and like any other controversy, people on either side of the argument will not want to change their views easily. However, as I have shown it is imperative that our country does not pass any legislation to legalize medical marijuana. Marijuana is illegal for a reason and allowing it to be used to relive pain in those with severe illnesses will, in the long run, have a negative effect.
Medical research has greatly benefited lives and is a much better alternative solution than marijuana.
Works Cited “Fulfilling the Promise. Medical Research. ” AARC. 2009. Web, 8 April 2010. “Marijuana: Facts for Teens”. NIDA. gov. 2009. Web 4 April 2010. “ Marijuana. Marijuana timeline in the United States. ” PBS Online. 2009. Web. 22 March 2010. “Medical marijuana”. ProCon. org. 2009. Web. 24 March 2010. “Saving and improving lives. New medicines transforming patient care. ” PHRMA. 2009. Web 1 April 2010.