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Legalization of Medical Marijuana

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Marijuana has had a long history of medical use. Currently legal in 23 states and D.C. medical marijuana has been a growing topic of importance. In July, 2015 Pennsylvania task forces began drafting a bill to lay out a plan to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients. Marijuana has proven to be useful in many illnesses such as cancer, glaucoma, and emotional disorders. With successes in specific cases of epilepsy, PTSD, cancer, and multiple sclerosis many doctors are pushing for marijuana to be a legalized medicine option. Although a majority of Pennsylvania citizens were found to support medical marijuana’s legalization many concerns have been addressed. However, drugs with similar ingredients to marijuana have been legalized, so with similar regulation marijuana’s negative effects can be avoided.

Legalization of Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania

        “The history of cannabis products and their use has been long, colorful and varied…The fact is that cannabis has been held simultaneously in high and low esteem at various times throughout recorded history, particularly in our own times” (“History of Medical Use of Marijuana,” n.d.). Historians have found records of marijuana being used medically from 5,000 years ago to present day. It is still used as a medicine in countries throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe, despite its decline in modern “Western” medicine (“History of Medical Use of Marijuana,” n.d.). 23 states in the U.S. and D.C. have legalized some form of marijuana for medical use.

        Werner, 2015, explained that on July 1st, 2015, a Pennsylvania task force began writing a bill on the legalization of medical marijuana to eventually make way to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk. The writers of the bill had found that around 90% of Pennsylvania citizens supported the legalization of marijuana for medical use (Werner 2015). The bill would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana-derived substances in a non-smokable form for patients with conditions such as epilepsy, cancer, and other pain causing ailments. The bill also laid out a plan for the regulation of licensed growers, tax schedules, and doctor prescriptions in order to prevent any abuse of the medical marijuana system (Werner 2015). It is important for Pennsylvanian patients to be able to receive the benefits that come with use of marijuana. Due to marijuana’s success in many medical cases, with proper regulations, medical marijuana should be legalized in Pennsylvania.

        The medical benefits of marijuana are numerous. Marijuana offers therapeutic uses for ailments such as: muscle spasms, chronic pain, interlobular pressure, relief of nausea, and rapid weight loss. It is has also been proven to help is specific cases of AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, anxiety, and depression (“Marijuana: Legalities & Health Condition Uses,” n.d.). In a 1949 study of the effect of THC, a main ingredient of marijuana, on five children with epilepsy, it was found to decrease the number of daily seizures. Three of the children were reported to have responded at least as well as other therapies, one was found to have significantly less seizures, and the last was found to be completely seizure free (“History of Medical Use of Marijuana,” n.d.). Many other doctors have found similar success in their patients’ use of medical marijuana. Greer, 2014, found particular success in the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of PTSD (73-76). In the study Greer found a 75% reduction of symptoms of PTSD patients treated with cannabis (75). With successes such as these many doctors are beginning to see the need for marijuana as a treatment option.

        In 2014, after seeing these benefits, Dr. Mirman argues for the need of medical marijuana’s full legalization. He explains the cases of two of his patients, one suffering with breast cancer and the other with multiple sclerosis. His patients came to him explaining that they personally found that marijuana was the only thing that made their pain bearable. Mirman was upset by the fact that laws prevented him from being able to suggest the use of marijuana to his other patients that would benefit from its use. He points out that many allowed prescriptions, such as Tylenol and oxycodone, are able to be just as misused as marijuana, and those drugs are not made illegal (38). Just like any prescription drug, with proper regulation, marijuana’s risks can be avoided.

        In a 2015 research, “Medical and Recreational Marijuana: What are the Risks”, by Dr. Shawn Van Gerpen, concerns on legalization were addressed. One major concern with legalization of marijuana, medically or recreationally, is fear of adolescent’s having easier access to the drug and it posing as a gateway to more dangerous substances (59-60). However, in a study done by the Institute of Medicine, it was found that marijuana “does not appear to be a gateway drug to the extent that it is the cause or even that it is the most significant predictor of serious drug abuse” (Boffey, 2014, 5).  Although some people who have used marijuana turn to other drugs, there is not any significant evidence proving the marijuana is what caused them to do so.



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