Hurdles of Medically Investigated Marijuana

The Benefits and Hurdles of Medically Investigated Marijuana

The benefits and harms of marijuana are a matter of considerable debate. This paper seeks to describe and discuss the recent findings related to these questions. We reviewed the literature on the benefits and harms of marijuana, focusing on two areas that are of particular interest to health professionals - cancer and respiratory illness. We also reviewed the literature concerning marijuanas benefits and harms for those with respiratory symptoms that are relieved by the ingestion of this cactus.


Both the National Cancer Society and the American Lung Association (AFLC) have published long-term reports that highlight the risks of smoking marijuana on a regular basis. Because marijuana is smoked, it accumulates toxic chemicals in its system, much like tobacco. Long-term marijuana smoking can result in carcinogenesis - development of cancer. It can also cause severe respiratory symptoms and inflammation of various bronchial airways. For many years, smoking marijuana was not considered a "real" drug because there was not sufficient evidence linking it to lung disease or cancer.

Recently, however, there have been substantial evidence regarding the benefits of pot for chronic pain and other medical ailments. The benefits and risks of this drug become more apparent when one considers that marijuana is derived from a very safe plant, and that it can be used as medicine in a number of ways. Many users choose to use marijuana to treat debilitating illnesses or chronic pain.


Although marijuana has not been found good for all conditions, the benefits and risks of using marijuana for relief from the symptoms of these diseases make it worthy of discussion. Chronic pain, including chronic degenerative joint arthritis and chronic muscle spasticity, has been found to be alleviated by moderate evidence of marijuana use. Some studies have shown that it may even be beneficial in treating HIV. It has also been found that marijuana use relieves some symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improves attention and concentration. Marijuana is also a good choice for treatment of migraine headaches and nausea associated with chemotherapy.


There are numerous side effects that are not considered to be good for the body, and these include respiratory issues such as coughing, mucus and phlegm. Marijuana use can also increase the possibility for psychosis, particularly when one is under a great deal of stress and is not able to sleep. It is unknown whether these concerns are related to marijuana's active ingredients, but one needs to remember that it is still considered a Schedule II substance. It is also a drug that can damage a developing fetus when used during the third trimester. Women who are pregnant should avoid ingesting cannabis.


When one considers that there is some evidence that links marijuana to an increased risk of psychosis, one would have to consider the serious consequences that a patient of chronic pain would face if they were to take cannabis on a regular basis. The chronic pain patients would continue to endure symptoms, and their caregivers would have to bear more expenses treating them. This alone should be reason enough to research the benefits and harms of marijuana. While it is true that it does provide some relief from the symptoms of certain ailments, it is not considered a cure, and the negative side effects are very real.

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