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Medical Marijuana (Cannabis) - Pros and Cons


Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has been historically used both as a psychoactive drug and for medicinal purposes. It contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the active ingredient, as well as at least 66 compounds that are unique to the plant (Earleywine 122). From medical perspective, its use is controversial (Emmett and Nice 28-29). Research suggests that it can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and treating patients with spinal problems, but the negative sides of marijuana include hallucinations, impaired memory, difficulty concentrating, impaired motor skills, and others (Earleywine 178-181). The objective of this paper is to analyze the pro and cons of medical marijuana, comparing two arguments, and writing a letter of recommendation based on the conclusions of the comparative analysis. Overall it is argued that the medical use of marijuana is only ideal for special cases.

Benefits of using Marijuana from Medical Perspective (Pro Article and Analysis)

Medical Marijuana

The reasons, issues, and conclusions obtained from the pro article are essentially that marijuana is unique and known to effectively treat serious illnesses, and thus should be used. As mentioned, marijuana has been used to treat patients with spinal cord issues and in the treatment of diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer. Marijuana is also used to treat muscle spasms. In other cases, it has been known to beneficial for autistic patients. Medically, it is also not addictive as compared to other drugs. In many instances, children have been given marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of their various ailments. A seven year old child was given marijuana to treat her blood cancer, as a replacement of other medicine prescribed by the doctors. The article reported that the marijuana assisted in alleviating her symptoms. Considering this and the assumptions, the value assumption is that it is ethical to alleviate suffering, while the descriptive assumption is that marijuana is unique and powerful yet safe enough to use as the treatment to alleviate the suffering.

Analyzing this article in further depth, no particular ambiguous words or phrases were used, but aspects of the article were misleading. It had more of an emotional appeal than logical reasoning or the proper facts and figures to support the argument from a scientific standpoint, leaving the reader to simply assume they existed. In one case, the author states that medical marijuana pill had been given to a seven year old child by her mother in order to cure her treatment and replace pills prescribed to her by her doctor, but sufficient descriptions of potential alternatives were not provided. The author further stated that marijuana can be helpful in the treatment of autistic patients and can help in improving their motor skills. The author quotes an incident in Oregon, where an eleven year old was given medical marijuana to manage destructive behaviors from autism. According to the parents, behavioral therapy did not work for the child, but when marijuana was given to him, the results were amazing (as his motor skills improved significantly). Then the author further asserts that medical marijuana can be ingested through smoking and can also be taken in the form of pill, allowing it to be taken similarly to other medication. Without a full range of facts and figures, the results of two cases alone do not provide a convincing or complete argument, relying more on an appeal to emotion.

Disadvantages of Marijuana from Medical Perspective (Cons Article and Analysis)

Medical marijuana can be considered unethical due to several reasons, while the cons article began to illustrate this, providing reasons, issues, and conclusions related to less information being available on it versus prescription drugs combined with its Schedule 1 legal status. It is easily argued that the safe use of marijuana for medical purposes has remained undetermined by modern science, as well as the nature of psychological addiction and withdrawal issues. There is comparable or more evidence to suggest that medical marijuana can have negative impacts upon individuals including paranoia, delusions, inability to focus, reduced motivation, infertility, coughing, lung or throat cancer, and reduced strengths immunological systems. People who might use medical marijuana may be a safety hazard if using machinery or motor vehicles, and the regulation systems for this are easily argued as questionable. Overall, the value assumptions of the article are that it is not worth the potential benefits to use a drug with improper testing, while the descriptive assumption is that marijuana has both a Schedule 1 legal status and has not had as much testing as other prescription drugs.

The article on the cons of medical marijuana is more reliable and credible while it appears to have given more consideration to a wider range of scientific studies. It concentrates on analyzing the danger of medical marijuana and is more considerate of the potential negative impacts in society. The article starts with presenting an overview of its benefits. It then presents information on how it affects the brain and its potential to be used in medical context. The author states that marijuana has not been sufficiently tested in clinical trials and therefore, it is unsafe while remaining a Schedule I substance (thus putting entire states ‘on ice’ legally when they have approved medical use). Ultimately, the author asserts that a lack of clinical trials and research fails to validate the medical usage of marijuana, and while its legal status should be reduced so that it is not in the same class as heroin and cocaine, the legal status issue creates additional issues. The author concludes that medical marijuana will remain unethical until these issues are resolved, acknowledging the potential for it to become ethical, and thus provides a convincing argument for the average patient having a marijuana option.

Letter To the Professor

From Student

123 Street

28 October, 2013

Respected Sir/Madam,

Considering articles in support and in opposition to medical marijuana, the opposition arguments should be held for the time being. The value and descriptive assumptions considering the negative impacts or side effects are more convincing than the potential benefits amid other treatment options for the majority of cases, with fewer exceptions that are difficult to handle in the current legal system. The debate regarding the ethical nature of medical marijuana should focus on the average case, and it appears that the average patient with a medical marijuana option should wait until more legal and research progress has been made. Until this time, use in the average patient with other options appears unethical because the medical efficacy and safety of marijuana is unknown, and because there is substantial evidence to corroborate the fact that marijuana can cause psychological and physiological problems. In special cases, where all other known forms of treatment have been found to be ineffective, it is true that some patients may benefit, but the combination of the stated issues make any possible alternative action seem to be the best course of action. Failing to try these courses of actions thus appears to be unethical.

The debate around medical marijuana will continue with different viewpoints being raised. There is the need for scientific studies which can provide conclusive evidence on the issue. Additionally, it is important to create a consensus on the issue through the use of integrated and coordinated strategies. Marijuana may indeed prove safe, but until then, the known negative side effects will continue to be the primary concern. Analysts have shown that marijuana has not been tested in clinical trials and therefore, it is considered essential to conduct them under the category of a Schedule I substance; the argument that the Schedule should be reduced is convincing, but this does not change the nature of the other facts. Considering personal value, I believe people should be free to do as they wish so long as it does not infringe on the freedoms of others, but they should be fully informed when it comes to a powerful psychoactive drug. However, based on these analyses and the stated argument in the current system, immediately resorting to the medical usage of marijuana is currently best defined as an unethical plan for the average case of patients with other options.



Works Cited

Earleywine, Mitchell. Understanding marijuana: a new look at the scientific evidence. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Emmett, David and Graeme Nice. What you need to know about cannabis: understanding the facts. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.