Medical Marijuana

Amid the long and still growing controversy and disconnect between States’ handling of marijuana—viz., State level legalization of marijuana sales both for recreational and medicinal purposes—and Federal law maintaining marijuana trafficking as illegal, one aspect of that controversy keeps getting overlooked.

States often rationalize their legalization of marijuana with the claim that medicinal marijuana is good. This overlooks the fact that marijuana has no more medicinal value than does the opium poppy. There is a growing body of anecdotes that indicate that there can be medicinal value from some of the chemicals in marijuana, just as there is established medical value in some of the chemicals, viz., morphine and codeine, in the opium poppy.

There also, though, is a growing body of evidence that uncontrolled use of marijuana is physiologically and mentally damaging to the users as they become increasingly dependent—emotionally as well as physiologically—on the plant’s drugs. Further, chronic use of the plant appears to lead to damage to still-developing brains (which development continues into a person’s mid-twenties) and to slower developing damage to mature brains.

What really needs to happen is research into marijuana to identify the chemicals and combinations of chemicals in marijuana, if any, that do have medicinal value. Once that research has been done, and specific chemicals’/chemical combinations’ medical value established, then marijuana growing should be licensed just as is opium poppy growing for the medicinal value of some of its chemicals. The marijuana chemicals/combinations with medical value then should be marketable as prescription drugs for particular medical uses, just as poppies’ prescription-required drugs, are.

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