A Case Against the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Use
Simon M. Clark
February 18, 2012
A Case Against the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Use The legalization of marijuana for medical use is a growing topic of debate between medical institutions and the federal and state governments within the United States. Currently, many prominent medical institutions remain divided in their position regarding the legalization of marijuana for medical use. Also, there is a division between the United States federal and state governments regarding the legalization of marijuana. Many state governments advocate for the legalization of marijuana, while the federal government maintains that marijuana is unsafe and should remain illegal. Additionally, this diversion of opinion is illustrated in the conflicting research studies performed to support or negate the continued illegalization of marijuana for medical use. With this division amongst researchers and medical bodies, and the strong evidentiary support to show marijuana poses the threat of significant adverse short and long –term adverse effects for its users, increases the risks of dependency and addiction and increases safety risk for users, marijuana should not be legalized for medical use. Marijuana use, whether medical or recreational, can produce both short- and long-term severe adverse effects for its users, and, therefore should not be prescribed for medical use. First, marijuana use is bad for pulmonary function. The primary administration of marijuana is to smoke it via marijuana cigarettes. When smoked, marijuana deposits more than four times the amount of tar in the lungs than tobacco does due to the fact that marijuana cigarettes do not have filters and users hold the smoke in their lungs longer than smokers. Also, because of the increased tar deposits in the lungs, marijuana use can lead to lung cancer and other pulmonary disease (Soper, 2011). Additionally, small doses of marijuana can lead to respiratory depression, while large doses, or prolonged use, can lead to respiratory arrest and even death in certain patients (Cohen, 2009). Marijuana use has also been associated with cognitive impairment and neurological toxicity. Recent studies have found that marijuana use can lead to decreased mental test performance. In one particular study, short term use of marijuana led to a 55% impairment and long term use of marijuana led to 70% impairment on a decision-making test compared to non-users who only had 8% impairment. This study proves that marijuana use has a negative impact on cognitive function and decreases an individual’s ability to learn or develop new memories (Cohen, 2009). Also, according to a recent research study using positron emission tomography (PET), marijuana users have decreased memory-related blood flow in the prefrontal cortex, increased blood flow in memory-relevant regions of the cerebellum, and altered lateralization in the hippocampus (Cohen, 2009). This study illustrates marijuana use creates structural changes in the brain that impacts an individual’s ability to form new memories, which negatively impacts the user. Additionally, strong associations exist between marijuana use and depression and other mental illnesses. While some research studies argue that short-term or infrequent medical use is not associated with depressive disorders, the legalization of marijuana encourages regular use. According to a study performed by Fratta W. Serra G (2007), adults who used marijuana over a three year period were at increased risk of having depressed episodes compared to non-users. Another Norwegian study proved strong associations between marijuana use with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Additionally, research shows a high correlation between the number of suicides in Canada and the increase in the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Since the legalization of marijuana for medical use, Canada’s suicide rate...
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