Medical Marijuana Ethical Issues

Topics: Cannabis, Chemotherapy, Psychiatry Pages: 3 (1000 words) Published: June 27, 2013
Medical Marijuana
There are a number of ethical issues that a nurse faces while in the clinical setting. One of these issues deals with using marijuana as medicine to treat patients. There has been controversy over medical marijuana ever since it was discovered that patients respond to it. There are many arguments supporting the use of medical marijuana in the health care field and many arguments in opposition of its use. The United States Congress classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance meaning it has high abuse potential and is of no medical value. However, “physicians and the general public alike are in broad agreement that marijuana shows promise in combating diverse medical illnesses “(Bostwick, 2012). As a nurse, it is important to understand both the pros and cons of medical marijuana before forming an opinion on the issue. Having all the information necessary will allow a nurse to better care for a patient in circumstances where their beliefs and values are different from your own.

The number one benefit of marijuana in healthcare is its use in treating symptoms that cannot be controlled as well by other medications. One example of this that has been supported by extensive research is in patients who are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer who have reported that marijuana controls symptoms of nausea and vomiting, increases appetite, and improves sleep. One study, in which 362 participants undergoing chemotherapy who had breast, colon, lung, lymphoma, or other malignancies showed that “cannabinoids are more effective than placebo and comparable to antiemetics such as prochlorperazine and ondansetron for chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting” (Cotter, 2009). Marijuana is also useful for a variety of psychiatric disorders. According to an article from Clinical Psychiatry News, “about 75% of respondents said they used marijuana for psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety,...

References: Bostwick, J. (2012). Blurred boundaries: the therapeutics and politics of medical marijuana. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 87(2), 172-186. Retrieved from
Cotter, J. (2009). Efficacy of crude marijuana and synthetic Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol as treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: a systematic literature review. Oncology Nursing Forum, 36(3), 345-352. doi:
Halpern, A. (2010). Medical marijuana for pain: an emerging field. Canadian Nurse, 106(5), 10.Retrieved from
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Hollister, L. (2001). Marijuana (cannabis) as medicine. Journal Of Cannabis Therapeutics, 1(1), 5-27. Retrieved from
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Otto, A. M. (2012, January). Medical marijuana often used as a prescription drug substitute. Clinical Psychiatry News, 40(1), 33. Retrieved from
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