For many decades, marijuana or cannabis was prohibited in most jurisdictions not only in the United States but also in many other parts of the world. Marijuana was principally prohibited on the grounds that the substance causes many adverse health effects including cannabis dependence and further drug abuse. However, during the past few years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the medicinal properties of marijuana. Indeed, marijuana has a long history of being used for medical purposes, and many researchers today are conducting studies that attempt to establish if these perceived medicinal properties are, in fact, real. In light of the growing amount of evidence that points to marijuana’s medical benefits, the debate whether the substance should be legalized has also been reignited. While the legalization of marijuana for recreation continues to be debated in various arenas, from argumentative essays to legislation, medical marijuana should be legalized to utilize the benefits that offers for treating various diseases and help further research on its other medical uses.
To begin with, the leading reason why medical marijuana should be legalized is that the act will enable the use of the substance’s benefits in treating various medical conditions. Continuous research throughout the years has yielded many discoveries regarding marijuana’s medicinal properties. Firstly, marijuana has been found out to help in the alleviation of pain. Pain is one of the most common symptoms of disease. For instance, in a study conducted among 1,746 patients prescribed with medical marijuana, it was found out that over 82% have used marijuana for treating pain. The respondents of the study also reported using marijuana to treat insomnia and anxiety (Reinarman et al. 131). Secondly, marijuana is also beneficial in the treatment of epilepsy. Treating epilepsy can be difficult, especially in severe cases. However, a number of studies show that marijuana can help in easing this disease. In one major case study, a severe case of epilepsy involving a child who suffered as many 50 seizures in one day was helped by the introduction of marijuana in the treatment regimen. The decision to use marijuana resulted in the decrease of seizures to just 2-3 incidents per month (Maa and Figi 783-785). Finally, marijuana can also be used to help ease many other health conditions such as nausea, vomiting, and muscle deterioration caused by AIDS or chemotherapy in cancer (Mack and Joy 87-90).
The findings, while revolutionary in light of cannabis’ negative reputation, are hardly surprising. Marijuana has been used as an herb for centuries. It was prescribed by physicians for a variety of ailments. In fact, marijuana was primarily considered as medicine rather than a recreational psychoactive substance for most of history. Given the medical purposes of marijuana, it is evident that medical marijuana should be fully legalized. Society must go beyond the stigma associated with the substance and recognize its benefits. Disease causes physical and emotional pain not only among patients but also among their loved ones. Disease is also a financial burden on all levels of society, demanding individuals and families to spend thousands of dollars on treatments and costing the nation billions every year either due to direct healthcare expenses or lost productivity. By legalizing medical marijuana, society can expand the ways by which the healthcare system provides better lives for patients and their loved ones.
Apart from reaping the benefits of marijuana on the treatment of diseases, medical marijuana should also be legalized in order to advance research on its uses. Because marijuana is still prohibited under federal law, researchers are faced by limitations in studying the substance. This means that researchers are losing valuable time that could otherwise be used in gathering more information on its other uses, which could be beneficial to treating a wider scope of diseases. As stated in the journal Nature Neuroscience, “A major impediment to marijuana research is that the substance is still classified by federal law as a schedule I drug.” This, in turn, makes it “very difficult for researchers to work with. Acquiring the authorizations essential to do marijuana research can take years and require an massive burden of paperwork” (“High Time for Advancing Marijuana Research”). If medical marijuana is fully legalized, researchers will have more freedom to study marijuana as legal barriers will be lifted. Furthermore, based on the fact that previous studies have yielded positive findings on medical marijuana, it can be expected that further research in the future will reveal even more medical benefits.
In conclusion, medical marijuana should be legalized for rational reasons. Firstly, studies have proven the medicinal properties of marijuana. Marijuana is effective in treating pain, epilepsy, and many other symptoms associated with a variety of diseases. Legalization will provide a new chance for a better life for countless patients. Secondly, legalization will have the secondary effect of boosting research. For many years, researchers have been hindered by the legal status of marijuana. If medical marijuana is fully legalized, researchers will have more ability and incentive to discover the positive uses of this substance. In the end, legalization of medical marijuana can bring new possibilities not only for medicine but the general quality of life for society. The scientific evidence on this issue is clear; the effects of marijuana are not completely negative. Research findings are casting doubt upon the long-standing association between marijuana and drug abuse. When used prudently and under the supervision of health professionals, it can help patients and their families as well as ease the burdens disease imposes upon society. This alone should be more than enough reason to pass laws that will legalize medical cannabis.
“High time for advancing marijuana research.” Nature Neuroscience, vol. 17, no. 481, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3692
Maa, Edward and Paige Figi. “The case for medical marijuana in epilepsy.” Epilepsia, vol. 55, no. 6, pp. 783-6. doi: 10.1111/epi.12610
Mack, Alison and Janet Joy. Marijuana as Medicine?: The Science Behind the Controversy. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US), 2000, doi:10.17226/9586
Reinarman, Craig, Helen Nunberg, Fran Lanthier, and Tom Heddleston. “Who are medical marijuana patients? Population characteristics from nine California assessment clinics.” Psychoactive Drugs, vol. 43, no. 2, 2011, pp. 128-35. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2011.587700