The legal use of marijuana has been a hot topic in the U.S. for years. The primary argument for its use is that it has shown to be highly effective for those suffering severe pain. The use of medical marijuana is legal in many states, but is the use of medical marijuana truly necessary? Are the benefits of its use greater than its drawbacks? What if there was another option?
Marijuana works as a pain killer by working in a system called the endocannabinoid system. When compounds like cannabis are present in our body they bind to our neurons and decrease the amount chemicals that are released from these neurons. At the site of an injury or other source of pain the chemicals being limited are those that would cause sensitivity and inflammation. This is why medical marijuana is used to reduce pain and why it is so effective.
The obvious drawback to the use of marijuana is its psychotropic or mood and behavior altering effects on those using it. THC is the primary chemical found in marijuana. While it does relieve pain it also causes mood and behavior changes as well as other side effects including increased appetite often referred to as “the munchies”. A synthetic form of THC is available as a prescription in both the U.S. and Canada under the name Marinol.
A lesser known component of cannabis is Cannabidiol. Cannabidiol makes up about 40% of the compounds present in cannabis and functions in much the same way as THC. The major difference between the two is that Cannabidiol does not have the psychotropic effects of THC.
Knowing this is there truly any reason for the use of medical marijuana? The main components present in marijuana can be made synthetically in a lab and the non-psychotropic component can be separated from the psychotropic one meaning we can have the pain relieving effects of marijuana without any other side effects. Also if the medically significant components or marijuana are produced in a lab instead of being grown either in or outside of the United States the rate of abuse would likely decrease because anyone with possession of the plant based form of the drug would be in violation of the law. Also Cannabidiol would not be abused as a recreational prescription because it lacks the psychotropic effects sought by a recreational user. On a whole the use of medical marijuana is becoming unnecessary as more is being discovered about the chemical components and how they can be synthesized in a laboratory setting. In addition the synthesis of these drugs would make distribution, possession, and growing laws much simpler for those truly using the drug for medical purposes and for law enforcement. On a whole unless you are looking for a high there is no reason for the legalization of marijuana.