Medical Marijuana Use Essay Example



A child suffering from debilitating seizures had her life overshadowed by the exhausting feat of fighting to survive, causing her to be unable to talk, eat, or make conscious interactions. After being diagnosed with Dravet’s syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy, Charlotte’s parents were close to depleting their options of treatment. Desperate for a way out of this unrelenting nightmare, they decided to treat her with marijuana oil extract that was low in THC and high in CBD. Unbelievably, after continued use of medical marijuana, “Her seizures only happen two to three times per month, almost solely in her sleep. Not only is she walking, she can ride her bicycle. She feeds herself and is talking more and more each day” (Young, Marijuana stops child’s severe seizures). Her parents urge the medical community to reconsider the obstacles associated with accessing medical marijuana treatment that is useful for various conditions. There are countless other situations that people find themselves wedged between a potentially life-saving treatment, but not being able to access it due to heavy regulations or misconceptions holding them back. Legalizing medical marijuana use opens up the possibility for relief to sufferers who find conditions from chronic pain to epilepsy intolerable otherwise and serves as a safer alternative to opioids when used with low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels.

One crucial point to consider is that CBD can relieve conditions ranging from insomnia to epilepsy to neuropathic pain without using high amounts of THC that has intoxicating properties. Pain management is one of the many benefits that people find helpful when using marijuana as treatment or alongside treatment: “Peripheral nerves that detect pain sensations contain abundant receptors for cannabinoids, and cannabinoids appear to block peripheral nerve pain in experimental animals” (Mack, Marijuana and Pain). Research indicates that components found in marijuana can help alleviate nerve pain, which often causes people to become debilitated. Relief from nerve pain can get these people back to their daily life, work, and various activities. Also, patients suffering from conditions that become more tolerable from the use of medical marijuana also “report many benefits of CBD, from relieving insomnia, anxiety, spasticity, and pain to treating potentially life-threatening conditions such as epilepsy” (Grinspoon, Medical Marijuana). Even consistent pains can interfere with daily life enough to be taken serious for treatment, so people suffering from more severe conditions such as epilepsy may find significant relief from life-threatening situations that may occur otherwise. Medical marijuana can have many more benefits that outweigh potential drawbacks, especially if used in a safe way: “Least controversial is the extract from the hemp plant known as CBD…because this component of marijuana has little, if any, intoxicating properties…THC…is the chemical that causes the “high” that goes along with marijuana consumption. CBD-dominant strains have little or no THC, so patients report very little if any alteration in consciousness” (Grinspoon, Medical Marijuana). Marijuana that is high in CBD and low in THC is a safer way to experience benefits for medical use without having the psychoactive side effects such as psychosis or anxiety. 

However, low levels of THC that is legal in many states such as Indiana limit the number of people who could benefit from medical marijuana who may need a higher amount of THC than is currently allowed. One man turned to medical marijuana as an alternative to the notorious opioids that are prescribed for pain management. After an ankle surgery, David experimented with different levels of THC to tolerate his pain: “David began using a variety of weed with 56.5% THC and says it only ‘exacerbated the nerve pain.’ After experimenting with a few other strains, he says, what worked for him was one with low (0.9%) THC, which eased his nerve pain” (Highly Potent Weed Has Swept The Market, Raising Concerns About Health Risks). Widening the legal amount of THC in medical marijuana, which is currently .3 percent, to just .9 percent could potentially make pain more bearable for people who need relief from unmanageable or chronic pain, similarly to David’s case. Even at small amounts of THC, .9 percent can expand the potential users that will find relief from pain that is not touched by just .3 percent of THC. Also, if side effects of THC is a concern, there are ways to reduce or prevent these symptoms even when using a higher dose of THC, widening the users who would be able to find further relief from their conditions: “Patients who inhale marijuana can titrate their dosage precisely to use only as much as they need, reducing or eliminating the euphoria. Some use marijuana only before bed” (Low-THC Medical Marijuana Bills: Leaving Most Patients Behind). Methods to avoid undesired symptoms are available if one is concerned about such side effects, alleviating any stress that may hold sufferers back from seeking relief.

Success in medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids also proposes a potential advantage that medical marijuana can have in the avoidance of opioid prescription that could lead to addiction. Medical cannabis can help alleviate pain, leading to the reduction in opioid dependency for pain tolerance. It is difficult to ignore the conundrum of opioid addiction that many people are currently facing. Since this is such an imperative concern to confront, why is the use of medical marijuana not being considered as a serious tool to combat this problem? The National Institute on Drug Abuse recognizes opioid overdose as a crisis: “The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare” (NIH, Opioid Overdose Crisis). The recognition of opioids as a crisis should warrant a consideration of all possible alternatives in order to lower overall dependency on opioids. In addition, a study shows that “a sample of 244 MC patients with non-cancer chronic pain attending a Michigan MC dispensary reported a 64% reduction in opioid use after starting MC, and 18.4% of 2032 Canadian MC patients reported up to a 75% reduction in opioid dosage” (Medical Cannabis for the Reduction of Opioid Dosage in the Treatment of Non-Cancer Chronic Pain: a Systematic Review). This shows that the lowering of opioid use could be associated with the fact that medical marijuana laws in states allow for fewer opioids to be prescribed.

Opponents to the legalization of medical marijuana may say that smoking marijuana can damage the user’s lungs: “Smoked marijuana, in any form, can harm lung tissues and cause scarring and damage to small blood vessels. Smoke from marijuana contains many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke” (CDC, Marijuana: How Can It Affect Your Health?). This is a valid concern; however, there are various ways to use medical marijuana that do not damage lungs in any way such as vaporization or consumption (in food or in a liquid extract): “Cannabis does not need to be smoked to be medically beneficial. Products such as cannabidiol (CBD) oils, topical pain relief treatments, edibles, and other non-smoking applications are now available” (Morrow, Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana). If people do smoke their medical marijuana, there may be undesired side effects to its use, but this fails to recognize the multitude of side effects that alternative medications also cause such as dizziness, fatigue, nausea, depression, loss of appetite in anxiety medications and epilepsy medications, as well as the consequences of leaving such medical conditions untreated. 

Legalization of medical marijuana would allow people more flexibility in determining what they need to experience relief personally, which is something that laws cannot do. Medical marijuana can help treat many conditions or side effects of certain conditions that would otherwise be left untreated. Loosening tight restrictions on medical marijuana, while maintaining safety regulations such as a limit of .9 THC in medical marijuana would ensure safety of consumers while still allowing many people to seek comfort from their conditions. Providing many benefits to lives of sufferers, medical marijuana should be more accessible to patients.