The Benefits of Legalizing Medical Cannabis on a Federal Level in the United States

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Federal laws of United States of America prohibit the use, possession and sale of any form of marijuana. However, the federal government has a provision that allows states to pass laws that legalizes marijuana. Again, the state government will have to set well-defined regulations for the marijuana that are upheld by the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. § 811) passed by the federal government (Nikkinen 477). The Act clearly describes the controlled substances and divides them into schedules from 1 to 5, according to certain characteristics and conditions. Marijuana and its cannabinoids has been categorized under schedule one. In addition, it is highly susceptible to abuse and still remains illegal for medical purpose in the U.S.  In fact, absence of clearly stated safety measures for medical use is the major components that categorized marijuana under schedule 1.

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Despite of the known medicinal advantages of cannabis, there is still a long way to go to legalizing it for medicinal purposes. Additionally, the mission is crippled by the opioid epidemic. Opioid drugs such as Duramorph relieve chronic pain by calming the nervous system (Reed 466). However, over prescription by medical professions and use over a long period of time leads to dependency and drug abuse, which in the recent years has been the major cause of preventable deads. Over the years this epidemic has risen and as of 2017, according to CDC WONDER databases, approximately 91 Americans dies from opioids overdose. However, considering the conditions which cannabis can help alleviate including epilepsy and seizures, schizophrenia, psychosis and anxiety, it is almost mandatory to agree that some of the above mentioned conditions are resistant to traditional pharmaceutical approach. Therefore it is time to finally embrace medical cannabis and its potential powers.

Marijuana has several medicinal advantages and this has been proved over the years by several studies and doctors for example Dr.William O’Shaughnessy. However marijuana is categorized under schedule 1 by the federal laws of USA and therefore it means there are risk factors associated with the use of medical marijuana. Rohrabacher-Farr amendment passed in 2014 by the congress, allowed states to implement laws on medical marijuana without interference from the justice of department. Medical marijuana topic has been a controversial one, over a very long period of time, and therefore the subject has faced many people who are against it over the course of history including Jeff Sessions (Turna 1007). The people who are against legalizing medicinal marijuana argues that no long term evidence has been provided to show its medicinal advantages and to them marijuana is mostly recreational drug.  Marijuana being in schedule 1 and opioid epidemic in America has formed a basis upon which US attorney general Jeff Sessions wants the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment reversed. However, the opioid epidemic Sessions claims, involves the abuse of opiate drugs not marijuana. Moreover, recent studies have shown differing results. Therefore Sessions claims and application to prosecute medical marijuana providers should be dismissed.

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According to research conducted by a research body under National Institute on Drug Abuse, preventable deaths from opiate drugs overdose  have greatly reduced with the implementation of medical marijuana laws. President Trump declared this epidemic a medical emergency being the deadliest in history. Treating opioid addiction is as deadly the opiated drugs themselves, since the patients face the same risks of overdose and the withdrawal medication does not cater for the pain which is the patients’ major concern. Mainly, this fact is proven by the study conducted in New Mexico, to show association between the enrollment in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program and opioid prescription use. The results showed that decrease in use of opiate drugs with increase enrollment in Medical Cannabis Program. In fact, this is the point in which medical marijuana comes in because it has been proven to control chronic pain making it a better alternative to opiate drugs (Mead 288).

There are two known compounds with medicinal properties including Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC). American Medical Association released research findings in 2012, including 5115 participants through a 20 year period. The findings concluded that marijuana has an ability to reverse effects of tobacco on the lungs and improve lung health and performance.(Wingerchuck)

In 2003, Robert J. DeLorenzo, conducted a research on epileptic rats. These rats were given marijuana extracts which prevented seizure for about 10 hours. The THC compound in the marijuana controls and regulates the brain cells thus reducing seizure episodes. Additionally, the Figifamily, featured in a documentary, Weed, has successfully managed their 5 year old daughter severe seizures with marijuana that contain great amount of CBD and little THC, bringing it down from 300 seizures to 1 seizure a week.

According to studies conducted marijuana has vast importance on the brain. Firstly, a study led by Kim Janda was conducted in 2006, showed that THC slowed down the formation of amyloid plaque which is responsible for killing brain cells hence Alzheimer’s disease. Secondly, researcher conducted by the University of Nottingham states that marijuana can help to reduce the damage caused by stroke to the brain.

The research was conducted on mice and monkeys. Finally, a study recently conducted, found that mice had less bruising in the brain and healed faster while using marijuana.

Research from California Pacific Medical Centre in 2007, found that CBD in marijuana stopped spreading of cancer by eliminating gene ID-1.Other studies in Spain and Israel show in some cases the cancer cells could be completely be eliminated. The unfortunate cancer patients that have to undergo chemotherapy have greatly benefited from medical marijuana. Drugs that use THC have been used to relieve pain, nausea and increasing appetite. Marijuana also alleviates pain in multiple sclerosis patients. Jody Corey-Bloom conducted a study on thirty patients whose pain responded positively after smoking marijuana. THC alleviate the pain by calming the receptors in the nerves and muscles.

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How does the marijuana medical prescription process work? Your doctor will assess your pain and if the doctor thinks marijuana will help the patient, he then prescribes it, giving the patient a marijuana card, which will enable the patient to buy marijuana from a dispensary. Using of this drug may take different forms including smoking, vaporized, liquid extracts and oral ingestion in from of cookies. Medical professions have limits on the prescription and therefore pregnant women, people with heart diseases and psychosis and of course minors cannot be prescribed for this drug (Wingerchuck 316).

Natural occurring chemical compound found in marijuana similar to THC, helps to calm the brain and body from anxiety and fear, which is frequently experienced by people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).This trial study was recently approved by the health and Human services for treatment of veterans with PTSD. Additionally, people suffering from anxiety could use marijuana in small quantities to calm themselves down. Other uses for marijuana includes preventing nightmares (Wingerchuck 318)

A study from Israel showed that there was reduced pain and tremor for the Parkinson’s disease patients smoking marijuana. Other benefits that the patients experienced were improved sleep and improved motor skills. Also another study from Israel showed improvement with Crohn’s disease patients. The cannabinoids help the gut regulate its functions and their components. Additionally, another studies from University of Nottingham showed that the chemical compounds found in the cannabis interacted directly with cells in the gut area therefore reducing the permeability of intestines thus managing bowel disease. Finally, in 2011, the researchers discovered how marijuana alleviate arthritis discomfort. With its pain relieving, anti-inflammatory and improving sleep properties, it’s a great relief to patients. Other studies in rheumatology units administered Sativex, a cannabinoid-based painkiller and the patients report significant improvements in terms of pain and sleep (Reed 467).

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Besides the medical advantages there is also economic advantages that come from the raising cannabis industry. The amount of taxes that is associated with this drug is very high. For example, in 2014 January, state of Colorado collected $2million tax, from legalizing marijuana. This amount only catered for the recreational marijuana. Additionally, the tax from medical marijuana, the figure shot to $3.5 million. Economists and market experts have already predicted the trends if   medical marijuana is to be legalized. The revenue that will be collected from the taxes on this drug both recreational and medical, is in billions.

Moreover, legalizing medical marijuana will mean setting up dispensaries and this will not only create jobs but also grow the marijuana industry. Common citizens will get a way to make a living, from farmers, to dispensaries and pharmaceuticals companies. Another advantage of legalization of medical marijuana means that the federal government will be able to control and track this drug.This means that the government will ensure the patients get high quality marijuana and also in the correct amounts. Also all the farmers, pharmaceutical companies and the patients will have to strictly adhere to the rules so as to be government approved and therefore this will make it easier for the government. This is a win –win situation for both the federal and state governments and largely the patients.

Putting into consideration the above mentioned benefits, the federal government should really consider all the factors before dismissing legalization of the medical marijuana. Majorly, it is the patients who really need solutions to the conditions that will benefit. Moreover its government role and responsibility to ensure its citizen get access to quality and appropriate healthcare. Therefore legalizing this drug will show the government’s commitment to taking care of its citizen.

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The federal Government should support and fund research body and institutes to conduct more studies on cannabis. This will enable better understanding of the drug thus high quality medication can be produced from the cannabis. Also, the risks versus benefits debate can be made clear.

In conclusion, legalizing medical marijuana will have benefits, not only to state government but also to federal government. From its medicinal values, to taxes and job opportunity, legalizing marijuana will mean better quality of life not only to patients but also common citizens.With support and funding from all arms of government, research can be done to facilitate the already existing facts that marijuana heals.

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  1. Mead, Alice. “The legal status of cannabis (marijuana) and cannabidiol (CBD) under U.S. law.” Epilepsy & Behavior, vol. 70, 2017, pp.288-91.
  2. Nikkinen, Janne.“The legalization of dangerous consumption: a comparison of cannabis and gambling policies in three US states.” Addiction Research & Theory, vol. 25, no. 6, 2017, pp. 476-84.
  3. Reed, Alan. “Necessity: Supply of Cannabis for Medical Purpose.”Journal of Criminal Law, vol. 69, no. 6, 2005, pp. 464-68.
  4. Turna, Jasmine, Patterson, Beth, Ameringen, Michael and Van Ameringen, Michael. “Is cannabis treatment for anxiety, mood, and related disorders ready for prime time?” Depression & Anxiety, vol. 34, no. 11, 2017, pp.1006-17.
  5. Wingerchuk, Dean, “Cannabis For Medical Purposes: Cultivating Science, Weeding Out The Fiction.” Lancet. vol. 364, no. 9431, 2004, pp. 315-16.
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