Author: Heidi Heffron-Clark
Professor: Julie Joki
Talk about a hot topic! Marijuana and the discussion surrounding full legalization of the substance in the United States, has been creating a stir for many years now. Some people feel that there is no need to legalize another drug and take the risk of allowing it to get into the hands of children or people that may not be exposed to it if were not legal. Others say that if we legalize marijuana, it’s the start of a slippery slope that might lead to attempts to legalize other drugs. To the contrary, there are also many people, myself included, that feel that the risks of legalizing marijuana in the United States are minimal compared to the potential benefits. Legalizing any drug is going to come with a lot of debate and resistance, but the great benefits of legalizing this particular drug need to be seriously considered, and there has never been a better time to do so. Amazing health benefits that include both preventing illnesses and treating symptoms of diseases, economy boosting benefits resulting from legalization, regulation and taxation and the fact that it has been successfully legalized in other countries all lead to the conclusion that the legalization of marijuana in the United States is the right thing to do for the sake of the entire country!
One of the greatest reasons to consider legalization of marijuana would be due to the immense medicinal benefits that marijuana provides. Medicinal marijuana is beneficial in the treatment and prevention of many different illnesses including, but not limited to, cancer, Tourette’s, OCD, Multiple Sclerosis, Seizures, Migraines, Glaucoma, ADD/ADHD, Crohn’s, and Alzheimer’s. If marijuana were legalized and regulated, people suffering from any of these illnesses would have an alternative to current medications with horrible side effects. It could also be something that is eventually covered by insurance or available affordably over the counter, saving people a great deal of money on their already expensive health care costs.
One of the deadliest diseases that could potentially reap considerable benefits from the legalization of marijuana is cancer. Cancer treatments and medications tend to have horrific side effects. One of those side effects is the extreme nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy, radiation and other anticancer drugs. Cancer patients usually receive antiemetics to help control the nausea and vomiting but there really is no single solution to reduce those symptoms in all patients. Antiemetics in multiple combinations seem to work well for some; however some doctors and scientists believe that THC (the active marijuana constituent) may be the best treatment for many others. The U.S. FDA has already approved the use of THC for treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have not responded to the standard antiemetic drugs (National Cancer Institute, 2000). If we have already considered certain levels of THC to be legally acceptable, why not look further into the benefits of what a broader scale legalization could do for the medical field and suffering patients?
In addition to nausea and vomiting, other common symptoms in cancer patients are the loss of appetite, loss of desire to eat, and incomplete absorption of nutrients which leads to anorexia and/or cachexia. “Maintenance of body weight and adequate nutritional status can help patients feel and look better, and maintain or improve their performance. It may also help them better tolerate cancer therapy” (National Cancer Institute, 2000). THC can help counteract the loss of appetite and desire to eat, which in turn could help the patient not only feel better, but potentially tolerate the treatments better as well.
Although we will probably never be able to cure all diseases, if marijuana helps aid in treatment or...