Medical marijuana is a tricky subject to tackle because there is such a variety of opinion on this particular movement. In many ways, marijuana has proven to be quite helpful in the medicinal industry. I can’t deny this fact, especially when I’ve seen it produce incredibly positive results in the life of a family friend who, at one point, was struggling to fight a cancerous brain tumor. However, like anything in life, there are negative aspects associated with this method of treatment, as well. And I believe it is crucial to address both aspects because medical marijuana could make a huge impact in someone’s life either for the better or for the worse. Truthfully, this is one subject where ignorance is not bliss. Knowledge is the key to determining whether or not you are a good candidate for medical marijuana. Be careful in your decision-making process and be sure that you have analyzed all of the potential risks before diving headfirst into a new treatment plan involving marijuana. Consulting your general physician is always a good idea; too, because like I’ve mentioned before, I am not a medical professional therefore this article is my own personal opinion not professional medical advice.
Marijuana’s level of prevalence in the medical field continues to skyrocket as more and more states choose to legalize medicinal and recreational use of the herb. As a California resident and an active voter, it certainly became a more popular topic of conversation this past year (2016) because of California Proposition 64, otherwise known as the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative. On November 8, 2016, recreational use of marijuana officially became legal for people over the age of twenty-one in the state of California. There are a multitude of opinions on this subject.
It is amazing how diverse and surprising these opinions can be depending on the person. What I can say is that it has become an even more popular and socially accepted form of medicinal treatment statewide since the passing of this bill.
There is an aspect of this change in attitude toward marijuana that has proven to be positive for many people and families. Great examples of this positive aspect are the children and adults who have been diagnosed with epilepsy, yet find no relief from their symptoms in prescription medications. They are prescribed multiple anti-seizure medications and they still struggle with multiple seizures a day. Some cases can be as extreme as hundreds of grand mal seizures on a daily basis. Talk about a serious interruption to their daily routine! Medical marijuana, whether it is in the form of an essential oil, capsules, or its organic plant-like form, can provide the right amount of calming effects necessary to stabilize the person’s condition.
I think we can all agree that the improvements these people have received in the quality of their everyday life are significant. However, the long-term effects need to be considered, as well. And what exactly are the long-term effects of medical marijuana? What are the long-term effects of legalizing what was originally an addictive substance? We may look back on Prop 64 in ten years and seriously regret our decision to legalize marijuana for recreational use or we may not! The truth is, there hasn’t been a whole lot of research done on the long-term aspect of marijuana as a treatment method. Hopefully, this is being worked on as we speak because doctors and users really should know the good, the bad, and the ugly about something being used to treat medical conditions.
Personally, I go back and forth between the negatives and the positives associated with marijuana for medical use. Most of the time, I settle with the perspective that it is not the ideal method of treatment for me despite my active seizure disorder and I’ll explain why in just a moment. However, I cannot deny the normalcy medical marijuana has managed to successfully restore in a multitude of lives. Just look at the family friend I mentioned in the intro! When chemotherapy and radiation failed to treat the problems he was having, he turned to medical marijuana and it turned out to be the best decision of his life! You could even say it saved his life!
That being said, circumstances should always be highly considered before deciding to accept or deny treatment methods involving marijuana. To clarify, let me ask all of my readers this one simple question…If you are dealing with a medical condition what exactly are you looking to get out of the method of treatment you decide to go with?? Are you simply looking to control your symptoms, maybe restore some stability back to your life? Or, are you looking for a method that targets the root of the problem and, therefore, strives more toward long-term healing?
For my friend, he was in a life or death type of situation where he needed a solution and he needed it fast! For me, I’m not under the same rushed circumstances. If another solution exists that is a bit more time consuming, but is guaranteed to target the root of the problem, I’d much rather go with this instead! These types of solutions are typically found in homeopathy or through holistic medicine.
One more aspect of medical marijuana should also be considered when you are trying to decide whether or not it is the right treatment option for you. And that is the standard at which all marijuana products are measured by when being produced. USA Today is one of the few sources I have been able to find that has actually shed some light on this subject and backed it up using actual medical research. I highly recommend reading the entire article for a more thorough understanding of this topic. I provided a link to the article above, as well as below in my list of sources.
USA Today poses a question that is rarely asked, yet extremely important when determining the quality of the product you might use for medical treatment…“Is medical marijuana approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?”
Their answer? “No. But the FDA has approved two drugs made with cannabinoids—active ingredients in marijuana—called dronabinol and nabilone. Both are approved to treat chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in patients who aren’t helped by other therapies. The FDA is reviewing an unapproved drug, called Sativex, to treat multiple sclerosis. It’s already approved in Canada, the United Kingdom and other countries. And researchers are testing an experimental drug called Epidiolex to treat childhood epilepsy” (USA Today). This opens up quite a few issues actually, especially the mystery surrounding the system growers use to determine the quality of their methods. Medical marijuana may be growing in popularity, but organic and non-GMO foods are, as well!
“Patients need medicine that is free of pesticides and safe from microbiological contamination, and they need to know its potency (dosage). At the same time, opponents of medical marijuana have seized the opportunity to portray its quality in the worst possible light in order to suppress dispensaries that are legal in certain states. As a result, no federal and state regulatory protections are in place, and the cannabis products distributed by dispensaries are not subject to reliable oversight. As health care providers, they need to improve procedures for buying and distributing medical marijuana, and provide more detailed information about the medicine. The industry has yet to see legal cases involving contaminated marijuana, but they are likely to arise as the use of medical marijuana grows” (medicalmarijuana.com). Until some sort of system is developed, it is important for your own safety and care that you be aware of this uncertainty in quality associated with all marijuana products. Hopefully, this will inspire every reader to act with more care if there ever comes a time in his or her life when the need for medical marijuana emerges. I sincerely hope this is not the case, but life does tend to be unexpected at times so I figured I’d work to inform you on the issue.
I’ve tried to point out the positives and negatives of a very controversial topic in this article. As marijuana use increases, I believe our knowledge on it should, as well. I know I always like to be fully aware of whichever new treatment method I may be about to start before I actually begin any doses. It’s safer this way and it allows me to know for sure if this is actually worth doing or if it is just some rabbit trail that is a waste of my time. And trust me, I’ve had my fair share of rabbit trails! This is an inevitable risk of the “trial and error process.” If I am ever able to avoid a rabbit trail before I actually start down one, I need all the knowledge I can get first!
So, if you’re trying to decide whether or not medical marijuana is for you, you need to know the nature of the product you’re dealing with…
Once again, medical marijuana is meant to be used as a band-aid solution for medical problems such as epilepsy and cancer. The use of this treatment option has proven to be successful for some people in masking the symptoms, but it never really tackles the source of the problem. Everyone is different as far as what they’re looking to get out of their method of treatment. Personally, I’m not content with the idea of living with epilepsy forever so medical marijuana has never really appealed to me. I’d much rather pursue methods that tackle the source of the problem and therefore strive for long-term healing.
When I think about my life and how I would prefer things to be in the future, I don’t picture a scenario where a few manageable symptoms still exist. I picture a scenario where I am seizure-free and symptom-free. Not to mention, marijuana also poses the risk of worsening other existing conditions in a person’s brain.
“Marijuana increases the risk of psychosis, in which people lose touch with reality and may experience delusions, hallucinations and paranoia. Marijuana is also associated with chronic psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, in people who are genetically susceptible. Heavy marijuana use can lead these people to experience a psychotic episode two to six years earlier than otherwise. Colorado police have reported two deaths this year (2014) related to psychosis-like episodes in pot users. In March, a 19-year-old African exchange student jumped off a hotel balcony after eating a marijuana cookie. The next month, a Denver man who had purchased marijuana, including an edible form called ‘Karma Kandy,’ began hallucinating and fatally shot his wife” (USA Today).
The reality is, what people are looking to get out of their treatment method varies. Most people do not want a band-aid solution to mask the issue they’re dealing with. Therefore, medical marijuana may not be an appealing option for some. But, if they are like my friend with the brain tumor, it’s very nice to know that medical marijuana does exist as a potential solution. My own precaution is to be very careful when it comes to the treatment type because, as USA Today reports, tragic situations are a risk if the proper care is not taken when dealing with dosage amounts.
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Epilepsy Foundation: http://cqrcengage.com/efa/medical-cannabis/faq-access-and-advocacy