Medicinal Use of Marijuana an Issue Under Discussion

The therapeutic use of marijuana or Cannabis sativa is controversial. Specialists agree that it is necessary to explore more deeply the potential beneficial effects, as well as their harmful aspects.

The consumption for therapeutic purposes of Cannabis sativa, an herb known as marijuana, is prohibited in almost the entire planet, except the State of California (United States). Since November 1996, thanks to a California law known as Project 215, it is legal to smoke cannabis sativa within the limits of this state, if a doctor has prescribed course. However, the situation is not as simple as federal law continues to prohibit U.S. consumption.

Therefore, while California growers have proliferated and clubs that provide marijuana smokers and those who attend drug prescription, officials of the American agency to combat drugs, DEA, are empowered to enforce federal law and arrest these patients for possession and consumption.

The discussion that takes place in legal terms on the therapeutic use of marijuana runs parallel to the debate on his alleged medical medicinal uses.

“The debate was often slowed down because the media had forced a choice between two visions of the uses of cannabis,” the doctors say John Strang, National Center on Addiction, King’s College London (England ), and Wayne Hall, National Center for Alcohol and Drug Research, University of New South Wales in Sydney (Australia), author of a review of the topic, published in the medical journal British Medical Journal.

“One of these approaches was that Cannabis does not cause harm when used for recreational purposes, it is useful from a therapeutic, and therefore should continue to be legalized-specialists. The other argues that recreational use is Damage and cannabis should continue forbidden for both therapeutic and recreational uses. ”

For doctors and Strang Hall, “the extreme simplification of the debate surrounding the marijuana has prevented thorough examination of the various points of the case. We believe that a competent consideration of these issues could contribute to a more informed debate about the appropriate public policies that could be taken on the therapeutic and recreational use of cannabis. ”

About the potential therapeutic effects

The National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States and the British Medical Association of England agreed in 1997 to make public two reports claim that some of the active ingredients in marijuana could have clinical applications.

According to the report of the NIH, smoking marijuana would reduce the high pressure of the fluid of the eye that occurs in those suffering from glaucoma. This plant has also been shown to be able to dispel some pain resistant to conventional painkillers, which are characteristic of those suffering from multiple sclerosis, like nausea experienced by people who undergo aggressive chemotherapy sessions.

Finally, the reports of the NIH and the British Medical Association suggests that the well-known feature of marijuana arouse appetite, could help AIDS patients who suffer a great loss, to assist in the difficult task of recovering the muscle mass loss.

To comply with the above treatments in the U.S. is to sell Marinol, a drug containing a synthetic version of the main active ingredient of Cannabis sativa: THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).

However, various scientific studies have shown that both in-patients with AIDS and those who undergo chemotherapy marijuana-smoking takes effect more quickly and allows the user to determine the most appropriate dose according to their needs, that the synthetic version THC, because it takes about three quarters of an hour is equivalent to smoking and excessive amounts of Cannabis sativa.

According to the researchers, this is due to the presence of other substances (not yet surveyed), which coexist in the plant with the THC, to facilitate and expedite the healing power.

“The plant Marijuana contains more than 460 active ingredients, of which over 60 have the 21-carbon structure typical of canabinoides,” commented thereon doctors Bakala and James Lester Grinspoon, an associate professor of psychiatry and professor of law the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University, respectively, both authors of the book “Marijuana, the forbidden Medicine” (Ed. Paidós).

With regard to the quality of cannabis to stimulate appetite, an unusual use in patients with AIDS or cancer treatment, it is true, experts acknowledge. In these patients, smoking cannabis improves mood (an antidepressant effect has) and therefore, patients are more willing to eat. What happens is that must be done under strict medical supervision.

About the side effects

The subject of the adverse effects of therapeutic use of cannabis is another issue in dispute. For doctors and Grinspoon Bakala, “the most acute physical effects of smoking or ingesting cannabis or THC is a mild conjunctiva hyperemia (redness of the eyes) and a slight increase in heart rate.

None of these effects is troublesome and dangerous. After 5000 years of hundreds of millions of people worldwide are using cannabis, there is no credible evidence that this drug has never caused a single death. ”

However, not everyone agrees that cannabis is without risk to health. For doctors and Strang Hall, “the damage that would regulate the use of marijuana for years has been subject to scientific uncertainty, but recent evidence of damage (to the respiratory tract, for example) are redefining the debate.”

In principle, any substance that is smoke generates free radicals, which is toxic to the lungs. As to the specific damage that can cause it to be smoked as marijuana, is likely to have, but need more investigation.

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