TED Conversations

Neil Deatherage


This conversation is closed.

Should Cannabis be legalized as a medicine?

The rich biodiversity of plants in nature has provided humans many medicines to prevent and cure sickness and disease. The use of cannabis as a medicine continues to gain acceptance within the scientific and medical community, with Connecticut early this month joining 16 other states to legalize it for medical use. Case studies continue to support the value of cannabis as a medicine to ameliorate various ailments ranging from glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, Parkinson's, chronic pain, and nausea associated with cancer.

Despite scientific evidence supporting medicinal qualities from cannabis, much controversy surrounds outright legalization for medicinal use. While many states currently allow cannabis as an alternative to traditional medicines, the FDA continues to classify cannabis as a schedule I drug subjecting patients to possible fines and/or imprisonment under federal law.

Can cannabis find a place in today's society as an alternative medicine, or are possible unforeseen consequences too great to allow this plant for medicinal use?

  • thumb
    May 19 2012: Yes, Cannabis should be legal. Putting aside the medicinal benefits which some would argue are controversial, Hemp is an amazing product in and of itself. Industrial Hemp produces more paper per acre than trees, produces higher quality fabrics than cotton, and is a green alternative to concrete.

    Cannabis is illegal because it cannot be patented. Pharmaceutical companies lobby to keep cannabis illegal because it replaces so many drugs they sell. Law enforcement agencies lobby to keep cannabis illegal because it's illegality funds massive expenditures for the war on drugs(an unsuccessful war). Private prisons lobby to keep cannabis illegal because cannabis stocks their cells and pays the bills. Notice that no where is harm considered.

    If anyone believes that cannabis is dangerous and that we should wait for pharmaceuticals, I suggest searching for the research being done to make pharmaceutical cannabis. Pharmaceutical companies are lobbying to keep cannabis illegal, but at the same time are paying off officials to allow for their patented essence of cannabis(which is just the leftover tea from soaking cannabis buds in alcohol).

    Cannabis should also be legalized due to the criminal organizations that have sprung up to fulfill demand. Prohibition didn't work for alcohol, and surprise, it doesn't work for cannabis.

    For anyone that would argue that legalizing sets grounds for legalizing any and all drugs, understand that your incorrect. Alcohol was legalized and that didn't open the floodgates for all drugs to be legalized. Why shouldn't all other drugs be legalized? Yes, plenty of drugs are horrible and will kill or destroy lives, but these drugs tend to be unpopular anyhow. Why does the danger of a drug supersede the rights of an individual over their own body? Cigarettes are horrible for the body, but people still smoke. However, due to information about the harmful effects of Cigarettes smoking has dramatically shrunk.

    Word limit hit. Hopefully the point is made.
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        May 19 2012: Prohibition is a perfect example of a classical idea that no longer is applicable. Due to the vast amount of information that can be easily accessed, prohibition only serves to make criminals out of those that want to do something in their own privacy.

        Whatever someone does in their privacy is their own business. If what they due infringes on another's rights, we already have laws to deal with those infractions.

        Put short, I agree, prohibition never seems to work.
  • thumb
    May 17 2012: First of all, the studies you refer to test the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the active component of marijuana, not marijuana itself. Smoking pot is medically much different than the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol alone.

    Secondly, Marinol (Dronabinol) is a legal, pharmaceutical form of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol which provides all the benefits without any of the harm. THC, the active ingredient can help treat cancer patients by reducing nausea and increasing appetite, and Marinol does exactly that. However, when it comes to legalizing marijuana, I personally don't believe that we have chemotherapy patients in mind, its those who want to use it recreationally, which in itself is a completely different scenario/argument.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that the medical benefits of marijuana (delta-9-THC) are already available in pill form as Marinol (Dronabinol), so the argument that we should legalize weed for medicinal benefits is void. Even if we do legalize it for other reasons, smoking a joint is not the best way to treat any ailment, since smoking anything means the inhalation of carcinogens that come from combustion. Inhaling something that has been burnt is not great for your lungs.

    Lets not legalize weed for its medicinal value, lets legalize it for all the other reasons.
    • thumb
      May 17 2012: While it is true that we currently have pharmaceutical alternatives to marijuana for treating nausea in patients, I am sure there is a large group of cancer patients who would prefer a more natural alternative. Cancer is a serious medical condition, such that normal users of alternative medicine most likely seek western medicine for treatment. However, if there was some natural remedy available for at least some aspect of treatment for these patients, they may well greatly appreciate it amidst the onslaught of chemical soups they are internalizing.

      I agree that most proponents for legalization of marijuana do not have cancer patients in mind, but perhaps the large community of herbalist do. Yes there is a laundry list of reasons why legalization should happen, regardless of medicinal value, but I think it would be unfair to exclude this value from the current debate.
      • Timo X

        • +3
        May 17 2012: The irony of utilizing a carcinogenic to fight cancer seems lost on you. Perhaps if the pills were hidden in tomato rather than chemical soup, this would make for happier patients, yes?

        I live in the Netherlands where marijuana is semi-legal and I don't know anyone who smokes it for supposed medicinal benefits. In fact, I would become rather suspicious of people who cite that as the primary reason for smoking pot, as I would be of people who claim that their gambling is strictly therapeutic.
        • thumb
          May 17 2012: Cannibis does not have to be carcinogenic, though most people choose to use it that way. The use of a vaporizer, for example, just raises the temperature enough to release the THC into a vapor that you inhale (smoke free).

          I was also merely trying to point out that there is a large portion of the population who prefer natural medical remedies, rather than constantly introducing a slurry of sythensized products into the body. This goes far beyond a simple distain for an image of a "chemical soup."
      • thumb
        May 19 2012: I agree with you Drew. I think a large number of medical marijuana patients are attracted to the idea of a natural remedy. I personally know a handful of patients who have never even smoked it! There are many alternative forms out there, including tinctures and infused butters/oils for cooking. Sean Smith (comment below) also makes a very valid point regarding cost. It is much cheaper to purchase marijuana through a provider, or rather grow it yourself if you have a green thumb, than to pay a pharmaceutical company to synthetically derive the compound to take in pill form.
    • May 17 2012: when i was on Marinol it cost $32.00 per pill, medicare was paying over $1,200 per month to provide the same medication as $150 worth of marijuana (street value) I tell my story when I have more time!
  • Dan F 50+

    • +3
    May 19 2012: Cannabis (marijuana) should be legalized across the board, with the provision that it be restricted from minors.

    My motive is simple - it's the best option, in light of the status and costs of the war against drugs.

    My view about Cannabis is that it is a drug. You are what you eat, ingest, smoke, etc. Good health is prime in my book. Just because something is legal does not mean it's harmless to use. Personal liberty is also valuable to me and the reason legalizing Cannabis is acceptable, despite that fact that I see it as a harmful habit.

    Having said that, I think it should be heavily taxed, regulated and controlled like cigarettes and alcohol. Part of this government revenue needs to be earmarked to address controls, treatment, etc., associated with the use and misuse of this plant substance.

    Personal responsibility is on a parr with personal liberty in my view. To received public assistance it should be necessary to satisfy certain compliance requirements or be in a treatment program regarding being drug free and to have a sufficiently clean record with the law.

    A special restrictive provision for a documented medicinal user also seems appropriate.
    • thumb
      May 21 2012: Overall I agree with this sentiment, especially with the provision that it should be restricted from minors. This is doubly so because we need to consider that brain development isn't complete until (on average) the early to mid twenties.

      There might be some question about when to define a minor as far as age goes, but we can perhaps us the same type of laws for marijuana as for alcohol (i.e. restricted until the age of 21 and legal ID is required).

      This still won't stop some teens from trying to obtain marijuana illegally though, as with the case in alcohol.
  • May 19 2012: Yes. It should be legal period I think.
  • May 17 2012: Not only should marijuana be available for medicinal purposes, it should be legal as a recreational drug like alcohol or tobacco. It's short term effects are far more mild and less dangerous than alcohol; its long term health effects are less severe than cigarettes and other tobacco products; and of course it has less addictive potential than both. I could mention the crime its illegality causes, and that the reason it was most likely made illegal was the fears of the timber industry losing paper profits, and that the reason it's probably still illegal is pharmaceutical companies' fear of being unable to patent a plant as medicine, but I won't.
    • thumb
      May 17 2012: Pharmaceutical companies patent plant derived medicines all the time you just breed a unique strain, especially in the US. My concern is that considering the effects of alchohol and tobacco on society do we want to introduce something similar? As for its addictive potential nothing is as addictive as nicotine granted, but the widely held belief that cannabis isn't addictive is fallacious. Like alchohol some people are predisposed to addiction and the changes to brain function caused by long term cannabis use are irreversable. Reduction in natural cannabinoid production is the main problem.
      • May 18 2012: I just meant a plant. A naturally growing plant that they haven't patented or genetically altered so as to claim ownership. Not plant derived medicines. And I know people can become addicted to marijuana, but I meant to say its less addictive than alcohol and tobacco. I know people personally for whom it is a problem. As far as societal ills go, how much do you think it being illegal prevents people from smoking it? and would individual, legal use cause as many problems as attempting to completely prevent its distribution and trying to punish users and small-time, nonviolent dealers? just as individuals are free to drink alcoholic beverages and smoke tobacco, two substances arguably more dangerous than marijuana, so too should they be allowed to smoke marijuana. It's a squeeze argument: marijuana harm < legal drug harm, therefore marijuana should be legal. I suppose that may not be satisfying, but look at the money wasted trying (unsuccessfully) to police its use.
        • thumb
          May 18 2012: I checked ther is actually an existing patent on the use of natural cannabis to treat inflammation. You can patent anything in the US. I agree the discussion should really be around whether its illegal status achieves anything, which as you say it probably just makes things worse. It just concerns me when younger people describe cannabis as harmless (see Nick's post above). When you're my age you have friends that have been addicted to it for twenty years and now struggle to leave the house as the slightest problem becomes an overwhelming crisis due to their lack of endocannabinoid production.
      • May 18 2012: You can patent a plant that can just grow in the wild? Because it does.... Damn. That's America I guess. I know it can be a problem, but I also know it can be used responsibly as alcohol can.
        • thumb
          May 18 2012: Obey, believe it or not in the US you can patent a new use for a pre-existing substance. That's how they manage to patent parts of the human genome even though we all have a copy.
    • thumb
      May 21 2012: Pharmaceutical companies take the main ingredient from plants and synthesize it into a pill, but as seen this week in lecture, many plants that are/were used for medicinal properties are more than just the main ingredient. The main ingredient and other parts of the plants are all needed to get all of the medicinal properties. That said, marijuana is a plant, that may have been found naturally, like the Native Americans use of it. I don't think a plant that used to naturally occur should be illegal.
      Alcohol and tobacco are both very addicting, have age limits, and have many negative side effects. Marijuana is no different then these two other substances, except that Alcohol has a history of detrimental effects, from DUI's to overdoses. I have heard on the news of many DUI deaths or killing people, or overdoses, but I don't think I have heard of people dying or being killed by Marijuana, yes other drugs have this effect, but not as bad with Marijuana. I think Marijuana should be legal, with the same rules and taxes as Alcohol and maybe some additional ones.
      The resources used to search for marijuana grows, dealers, and patients is great, when all of this money and time could be put into improving our education, getting our nation out of debt, or protecting the environment.
      • thumb
        May 21 2012: Cannabis was actually introduced to the Americas by early european settlers. It comes from Asia originally.
  • thumb
    May 17 2012: Conversation Recycled.

    Whatever happened to freedom of choice? Or free trade?

    Whether for recreational or medicinal use, maybe people should have the option of using it or not.
    If your old enough to choose and make mistakes, your old enough to face the consequences of your actions.

    Maybe legalizing it will teach us. If it does not work out, de-legalize it.

    Future generations can look back and learn about it, just like we are with the wars.

    At the moment, we conclude ourselves without no trial period. No real evidence.
    At the moment, this on-going conversation leads us, to ask the same question next year and the year after that.
  • thumb
    May 24 2012: I would like to thank each and everyone for his/her insight and participation in this TED conversation. It has been with great pleasure reading different perspectives not only from fellow University of Oregon classmates, but perspectives from those throughout the United States and in different countries across the globe. The sheer volume of comments in this discussion suggests this question is going to remain at the forefront of scientific and political debate, with more questions than answers to come as the issue of medicinal cannabis intensifies. Thank you all again very much.


    Neil Deatherage
  • thumb
    May 21 2012: It absolutely should be legal... It's cheaper and more effective than most anti-depressants, does less damage than alcohol to the body, and can be grown (free) from seed. It is also one of the most effective anti-nausea drugs available The ONLY reason it's still a Schedule 1 drug is that the anti-depressant manufacturers would be out of business if it were legal! The fact of the matter in my lifetime is that when the "War On Drugs" was started in the 1970's, aprox. 30% of "kids" used drugs of some sort...Alcohol, weed, coke, lsd, etc. That number has NOT changed appreciably in the 40 Years of WASTED dollars. It has been as low as 27% and as high as 34%. But it REMAINS around 30% throughout all the changes and time and BILLIONS of dollars wasted! This leads me to believe that about 30% of the population needs some form of drug to escape their reality... Many of those folks grow out of it but lots don't. I suspect that there is a bio-chemical reason for this but am no researcher... Just an observer of patterns in the world around me.
    Cannabis was only listed in the USA as a Schedule 1 Drug after the 1957.. This listing was due in large part to the fear that the cheap, renewable fiber from hemp would supplant wood pulp for paper production.... Yet another example of "our" "great" government protecting an industry from another industry at the great expense of the Citizens of the country! Please remember when dealing with our federal and state governments: They're policy is: " Profit before the people".
    See the attached link to Wikki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_history_of_cannabis_in_the_United_States#Marijuana_Tax_Act_.281937.29
  • thumb
    May 21 2012: I believe that people should have the ability to take cannabis if they wish, but that the growing/sales of it should be highly regulated and taxed. I think the government could take this as an opportunity to make money to benefit things like medical research and other good causes. With all of the medicinal marijuana clinics there already are, there is obviously a demand for the drug, so there is money to be made. The government could research the medicinal benefits of marijuana and its side effects and then regulate and distribute it to the public.
    • thumb
      May 21 2012: I agree with you that cannabis should be legalized but heavily taxed. I would argue though, that the money should be used to improve the country's economic situation as opposed to medical research. There absolutely is demand for cannabis, be it for medicinal or recreational purposes. Overall the effects of recreational use of cannabis don't seem to be much worse than tobacco or alcohol, and it certainly has medicinal value. I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be presented as an option for medical treatment. I agree that it needs to be regulated, as with tobacco and alcohol, and the short term and long term effects need to be made clear to the people. But with the demand for marijuana and hemp as high as it is, legalization for medical and recreational use could potentially significantly improve the country's economic situation.
    • thumb
      May 22 2012: I completely agree with you Lisa. If we take a look at this issue in a broader less medical context there is great potential to make a lot of money via taxation and regulation. I also agree that with it's already known sources of medicinal value further research should be done on plants that belong to the same family as cannabis to see if any of these other plants hold as much potential. I would also find it interesting that since a couple other quite infamous drugs are also derived directly from plants or fungi, if research on possible medicinal properties they might have as well.
  • May 20 2012: I think that marijuana may have a place as an alternative medicine. While smoking anything is harmful for you, there are other ways to consume marijuana that do not these negative effects. I think that legalization will lead to more legitimate research into these other consumption methods that can possibly provide healing effects. Marijuana is not physically addicting, as legal substances such as alcohol, tobacco, opiate pain killers etc, but it is definitely habit forming and it can take over some people's lives. We have the right to use these substances, with regulation when we are of age, and I do not see how marijuana should be any different.
  • thumb
    May 20 2012: People forget how recently all these things were made illegal. Things like cocaine and heroin weren't even regulated until 1907, and pot was only regulated after the 1930's. Prohibition was an experiment that failed miserably, and the war on drugs since the 1970's hasn't been much more successful. Prohibition didn't just kill people because of gangsters and smuggling. People desperate for a drink (not just alcoholics) died from drinking wood alcohol or the industrially denatured alcohols full of poisons. Ginger Jake is an excellent example of what happens when you try too hard to regulate something people don't want regulated. I don't feel strongly about pot one way or another, but I do think that if there's a chance of making money off of it that doesn't involve taxing the poor and middle class, then by all means.

    Here's a related article on heroin clinics in Sweden, for those curious about how other countries handle addicts. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1727532.stm
  • May 20 2012: I do not believe that canabis should be considered an alternative medicine due to certain medicinal benefits. I believe it should be the PRIMARY medical treatment for various ailments due to it's medicinal benefits. Specifically, I personally can vouch for someone that became the only cancer survivor in a large group under study for the rare form that he had and this may be directly attributable to his choice to illegally self medicate with marijuana in order to handle his adverse chemotherapy effects.

    It is nothing short of a tragedy that more people are not given better opportunity to take advantage of the medicinal benefits of marijuana.

    Shame on anyone who believes ignorantly that marijuana should not be legal purely supported with the idea that it is illegal for any good 'reason'. Become informed. One can not blame a drug for a problem in society. If people in society seek a drug, then there is a problem in that society that caused the behavior: this is fundamental in treating drug addiction and anyone who handles it knows.

    If we are to really engage arguments considering any other drug use, then one could easily infer from the historical and cultural importance of alcohol consumption that marijuana, nicotine, and caffeine are all in the same realm and should be classified the same. If one wants to argue purely on evidence of negative effects on health and society then alcohol should be made illegal before marijuana.

    In this thread someone has already made the valid point that in the USA, under the FDA's system of classifications, marijuana should be considered generally safe for human consumption since it has been widely consumed historically in many populations around the world safely and is well documented.
  • May 19 2012: There is absolutely NO justifiable reason for marijuana or any other drug to be illegal without being hypocritical towards alcohol. None whatsoever.

    Nearly half of all traffic accidents involve alcohol
    Alcohol kills more people in a single year than every illegal drug combined
    Most of the people using hard drugs started with alcohol or tobacco

    In 2010, the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs did a study showing how alcohol is the most harmful drug on the planet, even beating heroin. Good thing we're protecting society by keeping the truly dangerous drugs illegal!
    • thumb
      May 20 2012: It should be kept in mind that a possible reason alcohol kills so many is because it is legal. There are a lot of drugs out there that can really mess a person up but since they are illegal, they are harder to obtain, and thus, harder to abuse. Don't get me wrong, I think all drugs should be legalized and the choice should be in the user, not the government's but I'm not sure stating that alcohol, a widely distributed drug, kills more people than rarer forms of drugs is a valid argument. It's similar to saying that domestic dogs are more dangerous than mountain lions because they kill more people in a year, when in fact, it's just because they are everywhere.
      • May 20 2012: True but that study I mentioned doesn't just base their conclusion off of CDC raw data though. If it was raw data, tobacco would be the most harmful considering almost half a million people die from it every year (out of the roughly 45 million people in the US that smoke). They can compare percentages of deaths to the percentage of people using different drugs to get an idea about which is more harmful. (The end conclusion of alcohol being the most harmful drug is including harm to society as well as harm to the individual. If you just look at the individual harm, heroin is still the most harmful. Alcohol isn't really too far away though.)
    • thumb
      May 21 2012: Say it again, Max....Louder!
  • May 18 2012: Why did it become illegal in the first place? On PBS I learned that cannabis was outlawed due to fears that stoned black men would attack white women.
    • thumb
      May 18 2012: It is the media making the simulacrum into the hyper-real which is now our "reality". It is quite frightening stuff. People should look past the smoke and mirrors of certain media outlets and analyze them for what they are, to get "Ratings".
    • thumb
      May 18 2012: Check out Jean Baudrillard in his book called "Simulations". It talks about the simulacra within the media.
  • thumb
    May 18 2012: I agree with the majority of commentors that marijuana should be legalized, especially for medical use. I think there is an unfortunate lack of research and evidence for both the benefits and risks of smoking marijuana because of its status as an illegal drug. We know that there are some medical benefits of smoking marijuana, but I think current medical knowledge is unfortunately limited and potentially undervalued because of the stigma associated with drugs. If marijuana were legalized, we would stand to gain a great wealth of information about how this drug should be used and when it poses potential risks rather than benefits. Medical and recreational users should have clear information about how and why marijuana can be useful. Additionally, legalization would help manage weed use in situations when it is perhaps not beneficial (ie smoking and driving, selling/buying in risky situations, etc). I think it is about time that the law reflects the honest benefits and relatively low risk factors associated with marijuana.
    • thumb
      May 20 2012: I agree with you Lauren that medically, cannabis is an extremely beneficial. Also, that if it were to be legalized, the dangers of dealing with it illegally (such as drug dealing) would decrease. I think many people have such a strong opinion on keeping marijuana illegal is because of the social norm behind the word "illegal". Because of this, people automatically assume that marijuana is all bad and can never be used for good. But of course, as more more research supports it, it can be used for good, and that in some situations, it has been used for good. Sure, people abuse it. But it also seems that its in our human nature to abuse things and by making it illegal won't ever stop people from abusing it. However, this doesn't mean that everything should be legalized just because people will abuse it either way. There are things that are harmful to human health that should be kept illegal such as cocaine and such.
    • thumb
      May 22 2012: Marijuana if made legal for medical reasons should be regulated by the DEA like opioid based drugs. This way what is dispensed legally can be regulated and maintained at a high quantity. Also it would probably be better to ingest it in other ways than smoking it due to the fact that it can cause more health problems in the future. Even if it is regulated by the DEA as a C2 drug, it will still be abused by people just like any other C2 drug out there. But this is a way for the people who do use it for its medical purposes only to make sure they have a quality product. The reason why I say not to legalize it completely is because of studies that have shown consistent use of marijuana can lead to mental health problems. Marijuana has a longer lifetime inside the body than alcohol and even some other more addicting drugs. Without studies done on the long term effects of consistent marijuana consumption, no one knows what the bioaccumulation will lead to.
  • May 18 2012: Cannabis is illegal for one reason and one reason only. It was to stem the tide of immigration from Mexico! Did the government not learn the lessons from prohibition? Is there now too many people incarcerated for its use? What about addiction? It is virtually no more addictive than food. We are 'hard wired' to become addicted to anything pleasurable. So if the medicinal properties of cannabis outweigh the side effects, i.e. pleasure, should we not control it, tax it, and use it? I take MORPHINE! Is that not a more addictive drug? Is that not ten-fold addictive? Is it more effective? Do the benefits outweigh the side effects? Contradiction in our laws are laughable, and destructive!
  • thumb
    May 17 2012: Unforeseen consequences? You mean like when a new pharmaceutical is trialled?

    Across the board legalisation is the only intelligent and effective way to deal with any and all issues surrounding cannabis use.
  • thumb
    May 22 2012: I think what will be interesting to watch over the next decade is how employment, insurance and our government handles cannabis becoming increasingly accepted as a medicine. Most jobs that require drug screening cannot accept cannabis as a medicine, often denying employment. Health insurance companies cover prescription drugs in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year, but have yet to extend coverage with less expensive cannabis alternatives. And when these issues cannot be solved in State Supreme Courts but must be decided in Federal Court? These will be very interesting times for cannabis in the United States..
  • May 22 2012: While I agree with most of our class that there are extensive benefits to legalizing medical marijuana, removing many of the restrictions on recreational use, and controlling the market much as we do alcohol and cigarettes, I think it is very important to consider the legal compensations we must make. While for some marijuana does not impair their ability to drive, communicate, or function in any other way, for many it does. A lot of the legitimate concern around marijuana legalization is that by turning it into a marketable commodity we are putting another mental-state altering drug into the hands of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. I think if we are going to allow for the use of medical marijuana there have to be strict guidelines for its use as well as increasingly harsh conditions for being under its influence.

    I would also just like to say that while marijuana from an objective perspective is not a gateway drug, for an addictive personality all types of drugs are a gateway (including coffee, sodas, specific foods, etc.). I personally have been privy to family members who struggle with addiction now, and I do wonder if we did not have legal addictive stimulants, and easy access to the illegal ones, which like marijuana have few side effects, would these people I care about have ended up where they are today? The question then becomes where the realm of government ends and the freedom of the individual begins. Do we have the right as a government to limit all people's access to addictive stimulants? Or do all people have the right to make their own decisions without regulation? I lean more towards the latter, believing that all creatures on this earth are inherently good, except for wolverines, and as long as they are not hurting anyone else physically or emotionally because of their drug use then they should be allowed to make their own choices and use their own bodies as they will.
    • May 22 2012: I see what you're saying, but honestly... marijuana is very easily accessible in today's society. It's already in the hands of cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians and is exponentially less of a risk than alcohol and many other substances. I believe that marijuana use should be restricted while operating vehicles, but I don't believe conditions as strict as those in place for alcohol are necessary. Honestly, I think the biggest risk posed by marijuana is complacency, and even that I don't believe.

      As far as being a gateway drug, I again refer to it's ease of accessibility. If an individual really wants it, they will obtain it legally or illegally. Marijuana's illegality is not going to prevent a kid from trying it if they want to try it. Now, I'm not the world's greatest advocate for marijuana legalization, but seriously... there are much greater issues going on in the world to focus our resources and energy and the legalization of marijuana could be a great addition to the economic stability of this country if conservatism would adapt to dynamic and changing times.
      • May 22 2012: When it comes to accessibility I agree with both of your points. And I've got to say it's a bit of my point as well. We have a huge drug trade in the US, and with our prescription happy physicians it's not hard to get your hands on something we don't typically make at home. However my question is whether we should have these drugs at all. If the black hand of regulation came into our lives and removed all temptations there could be a world without drugs, it's not what I'm suggesting, but it's not out of the realm of possibility either.

        My concern when it comes to use is that it is a state altering drug, and while some people drive fine drunk, and some drive fine high you never know when the new food you ate that day will react strangely to the drug and halfway through your drive home your high over powers you. We don't know the side effects of marijuana when it comes to its daily use in our variable world, and there IS an increased risk to being on any type of medication or drug and operating a vehicle. I've been in the car too many times and switched drivers because the fade that day is just more than they expected and they are endangering themselves and others behind the wheel.
        • May 22 2012: The subject can easily become philosophical or a discussion concerning the power of our government, but that only adds difficulty to the subject. There are surveys continuously being taken that shows a a stark rise in use despite being illegal. I'm fairly certain removing the temptation would not result in the decline of drug use of any drug in general. How could temptation even be removed? If drug use was only as a result of individual rebellion to an established law, that may be the case. But, human nature is curious and that will not be restricted whether illegal or not as we have seen. Drug use of any kind will never disappear and history evinces people's dedication to them. Although a world or even nation absent of drug use would be great, we should not focus attention to the possibility, because although it is a possibility, it's such a minuscule possibility that probability does not favor it. The case is very similar to prohibition.

          I think it's pointless to draw the line between medicinal use and recreational use. Really, marijuana use isn't going to cause riots, it's not going to destroy society, and it's not going to halt national productivity. Although it is a mind altering drug that may be placed in the hands of the public, its side effects are much less of a threat than many other legal drugs on the market today. Yes, it's a risk, but it's a minor risk in which, if handled properly, the positives I believe have a much greater potential to outweigh the negatives. Medicinal use will only lead to the legality of recreational use, especially with the balance of power shifting to more liberal generations of leaders in the upcoming decades. It's imperative we remove our personal biases on the matter and focus on the way things are and how we may harbor these truths to benefit us, because currently, while the nation could benefit from the legalization of marijuana use, we will never with such conservatist restrictions. Times change and we must adapt to them.
  • thumb
    May 21 2012: I think that marijuana should absolutely be an option medicinal treatment for illnesses like cancer. If the benefits from using medical marijuana are justified then there should be no reason that people can't use it for medicinal reasons. However, I think that people take advantage of this capability to obtain marijuana in some states. Therefore, cannabis should be more heavily regulated and distributed to people who would actually benefit from it and are not just trying to use it for recreational purposes. For instance, I know in California almost anyone can obtain medical marijuana. You could be having back pains and receive it without question. As far as the use of marijuana for medicinal reasons, its distribution does need to be more controlled to prevent this from happening. On that note, I do think the drug has a place in today's medical society, but its place in recreational society is a whole other subject.
    • thumb
      May 21 2012: I agree that marijuana should be made legal for medicinal purposes. After seeing and hearing stories of people going through cancer anything to ease their pain makes sense to me. I think you are right in saying it has a definite place in today's medical society but should be separated from recreational use. I am wondering if you have any ideas on how medical marijuana could be better regulated?
      • thumb
        May 21 2012: I also agree that medical marijuana has a place in medical society, most of the research I've read only states the absolute benefits to the drug. I agree, as well, that the availability of medical marijuana is tarred by the ease of access for illegal use or non-medicinal purposes and this image is used as a tool for proponents against medical marijuana and limits the potential for marijuana use for medicinal purposes. . Stricter regulation of medical marijuana distribution could help to limit this negative view(although I am not personally in favor of regulating marijuana for recreational use). One way to regulate and alter the view of non-medicinal use is to regulate the marijuana dispensaries, this can be as simple as requiring the dispensaries to have a more "pharmacy/medical office" atmosphere instead of a "head shop" atmosphere. The strains of marijuana could be restricted to ones that serve medicinal purposes instead of strains that have a hint of bubble gum or blueberry in them.
  • thumb
    May 21 2012: I would vote for a libertarian solution of decriminalization of growing cannabis for personal use or barter but would want any commercial production to be heavily regulated and taxed, May sound contradictory but I think it would work to take the criminal element out of the loop.
  • thumb
    May 19 2012: Stop the war on drugs and with the funds, Regulate, Educate, Rehabilitate. After that, a person chooses how they want to live their life.
  • thumb
    May 18 2012: Hey Fellow Tedsters,

    Legalizing Cannabis is such a RIDICULOUS topic to discuss about because it is natural and we should just allow it to be legalized. It isn't even a dangerous drug. I have never met anyone who DIED from cannabis overdose. All these rules are just DISTRACTIONS that side track us from BIGGER ISSUES like ending world hunger, curing AIDs, war between countries that have a low moral basis, saving the Earth from going extinct, preserving the goodness of a full education, etc.

    Everyone can makes choices, but the back-story of individuals' choices is more crucial, so legalizing Cannabis will be a measure of character whether individuals' use it medically, out of curiosity, or just using it recreationally. So let's all rally our world leaders to see the larger issues at hand and hope they will be logical enough to make more intelligible choices. If not, then it is time to replace the government that has so blindingly passed important issues by.

    Thank you and good day. =)
    • May 19 2012: [DY] Legalizing Cannabis is such a RIDICULOUS topic to discuss about because it is natural

      [me] Papaver somniferum L. is entirely natural. 100% of heroin addicts start on milk... should we be arguing for legal measures to enforce a prohibition related to the giving of milk to babies?

      It should not be considered as ridiculous to discuss any topic... which other people feel that they want to discuss. Your finely-honed sense of the ridiculous makes absolutely no sense to me other than in the context of you wanting to shut down a debate in which you have no interest to participate . Your statement is merely a proposition followed by a non-sequitur.

      [DY] It isn't even a dangerous drug. I have never met anyone who DIED from cannabis overdose

      [me] Recreational psychotropic substance use has been shown to increase the risk for states which mimic psychosis.

      Encephale. 2009 Sep;35(4):377-85. Epub 2008 Jul 9.
      Cannabis and psychosis: search of a causal link through a critical and systematic review
      Le Bec PY, Fatséas M, Denis C, Lavie E, Auriacombe M.


      Conclusion: The objective of this article was to examine whether cannabis use can be an independent risk factor for chronic psychotic disorders, by using established criteria of causality. Data extracted from the selected studies showed that cannabis use may be an independent risk factor for the development of psychotic disorders. Early screening of the vulnerability to psychotic disorder should permit improved focus on prevention and information about the specific risks related to cannabis use among this population.

      You cannot meet people who have died. Q.E. D.

      It is a waste of your time (and mine) to have you going off any tangent which pleases you.... while preventing an examination of the issues despite purporting to be constructive debate.

      Your imprecation for us all to rally our world leaders is a nonsense, especially when you won't discuss these ridiculous issues.

      • thumb
        May 19 2012: You pose very pertinent points here Jeff, but I try to weigh issues on a larger scale of things. If you would weigh issues of war next to legalization of cannabis, then war would be of priority. Call me stubborn, but I find that Cannabis isn't such a big deal when we weigh in bigger issues. People have the ability to make their own descisions, unless they are forced into something, otherwise it is their own fault. Though they can go to rehabilitation centers, or go cold turkey.

        If legalized, the products containing Cannabis will contain its own warning labels just like cigarettes and any other medication anyone uses. There are risks in every aspect of life, but it is the intent of the individuals' who uses their agency that is more important. We should discuss then do, not discuss then discuss. Life is too short to be able to care for everyone, so they must weigh issues on a larger scale and solve issues according to levels of risk. This is all my own opinion, you have the agency to comment on my opinion or not; care about what I commented or not. It's all in the choice.

        Your twisting my words, when I said I have never met anyone who died, but finish with "from cannabis overdose". I suggest you read my entire comment before your accuse me of using incorrect grammar.
        • May 20 2012: Legalising canabis is related to the many 'greater' issues you have mentioned because these are all societal failures. The fundamental route of these failures stem from several sources, though mainly via poor governance and degraded personal investment in society (the former possibly stemming from the latter)

          The bulk of these issues could be sorted with everyone spending a reasonable amount of time (2-5hrs/wk) volunteering for a socially conscious cause. Participating in something purely for the action brings good to the community directly and through opening channels of communication that are vital for everything ranging from good governance to reducing persistent social ills.
        • May 20 2012: [DY] You pose very pertinent points here Jeff, but...

          ...what I am saying, Jeff, is far more important than your very pertinent points.

          [DY] If you would weigh issues of war next to legalization of cannabis, then war would be of priority.

          How dismissive of you! If you extend an argument beyond its natural boundaries, then any position can be made to look extreme... thus: The elimination of war is a very important matter for humans to address but when set next to the exploration and colonisation of inhabitable planets, in order for humans to deal with current shortages by utilising the near universe's greater resources for food and mineral wealth for all humans, it pales into insignificance.

          At least have the common courtesy to debate the points which were raised by me; rather than invent and substitute the ones you wish to argue. (as I have just done to illustrate your current method of deflecting useful debate)

          Are you a politician?

          [DY] Life is too short to be able to care for everyone.

          I am completely familiar with this depressing line of argument. It is how the wealthy avoid doing anything which I would consider to be socially useful... because it might disrupt their enjoyment of food, healthcare, choice of holiday, ability to shop and eat at the finest places. I have your measure now. Life is far too short for you to have your enjoyment of it impinged upon by matters which are far more distressing and pressing.

          [DY] This is all my own opinion

          Evidently. Opinions are neither right nor wrong and I refuse to debate them.

          [DY] Your twisting my words

          [per your own opinion] you have the agency to comment on my opinion or not; care about what I commented or not. It's all in the choice.

          I object to you believing something on the basis of your own limited experience then extrapolating it to encompass all other use cases.

          ---------> Logic 101
      • thumb
        May 20 2012: Hi Enrico,
        True, cannabis can be discussed, but on the "levels of risk" view of issues, this issue fails in comparison to more important issues. Possibly the current laws may even suffice in maintaining Cannabis, but there is so much abuse of the distribution of Cannabis that the laws are a failure. So, why not pass Cannabis, then reinvent its production with additives. It will be similar to cigarettes, and tobacco. When we are able to manufacture Cannabis, that will create a controlled environment, then the issue would not seem so "horrible" to society. Too much of anything is bad and everything in moderation can impact individuals', and the world, positively.

        Not to mention after Cannabis' production is mantained, with its content diluted by additives, then job creation will increase as well.

        If you look into the medical world, drug manufacturers are an even bigger issue. They distort their products to sell and bribe pharmacists/doctors to prescribe their medication instead of their competition. That seems like a bigger issue than Cannabis. Corruption is above Cannabis in my opinion, for levels of risk in important issues.

        My opinion stays firm that legalizing Cannabis will keep it under control. Not legalizing Cannabis will allow the delinquents of society to abuse its distribution.
      • thumb
        May 20 2012: Hi Jeff,
        I am neither rich, a politician, deflecting the issue pertaining to the above topic, or am I always correct, but I am not intending to play victim here neither. You are playing the victim and I don't want to reinforce your ideas that you are a victim. We could proclaim opposing ideas all day, but there are larger issues that need to be dealt with; and, space exploration fails in comparison to building positive relations with the current population of the planet of Earth, including the other existing species. Why reach our hand beyond our scope of understanding when our current situation of the world is more dire, but yes, Cannabis is a issue, though I commented on my position and you could attempt to understand and empathize and/or disagree. That is your agency. We are currently completely off topic and I'm not sure if there is a vocabulary term that is further than disgression, but we have totally digressed.

        My thoughts are we deal with human relations and issues on a scale that is "levels of risk" from highest to lowest, and when something is distracting the population from bigger issues, like war, I view it as a freedom of choice type of issue, so I conclude we allow people to make that "important" choice by legalizing Cannabis, then we can take care of a bigger issue.These issues are similar to many other social issues.People should be able to make choices, but if they make an error, then allow for another individual to correct them or for the individual to realize their error for themselves by following certain actions such as, distancing oneself from individual(s) that made an error.

        I acknowledged your points, but attempted to stear our conversation back on course, though my personal view is that Cannabis legalization should be a non-issue. I could have been developing, discussing something like how to cure a disease or solving environmental crises with you, but we are stuck in a loop about Cannabis. See how this is pointless? We can agree to not.
        • May 21 2012: Derek, I have no idea what you mean when you propose that I am playing the victim. I am not a victim in any sense. I am trying to be a participant in a debate and my frustration is this: The argument is about the legality of cannabis and its medicinal use (should cannabis be legalised as a medicine) and you have inserted the subject of war as your rationale for subsuming the debate about cannabis. In addition, you throw in some homespun philosophy to underpin this untenable position, complain about my use of language and then resort to the nonsense about choice and agency, bolstered by your use of the royal 'we'.

          I had objected to your wandering away from the point under scrutiny and made an effort to restore some semblance of coherent argument. Now you claim that larger issues need to be dealt with. I have never held the position that larger issues are not important, although we may both disagree about the order of priority in which we would place those issues.

          What is clear is that you are not discussing the subject matter in the opening post. You are merely dismissing it because of your value judgements about its importance, when placed next to subjects you rate as more significant. That does not constitute a debate or an argument which I can recognise.

          Your position is that you won't discuss this matter and it leaves me nothing upon which to hang an argument. You indicate we are 'off topic' completely. Please note that you took the matter 'off topic' by bringing war into the debate, which has absolutely nothing to do with cannabis and the legality of its medical usage.

          You introduced freedom of choice, importance, levels of risk, bigger issues, individual correction, personal viewpoint and then indicate the inherent pointlessness of this approach. On this we are agreed... it is futile to obscure the issue at hand with all this irrelevance and then complain about it being pointless.

          Personal opinion prevents a logical debate from taking place.
        • May 21 2012: Derek, your final words to Enrico include the following sentence...

          [DY] My opinion stays firm that legalizing Cannabis will keep it under control.

          This is only your opinion and it cannot be subjected to the rigours of logical argument. This opinion indicates a firmly closed mind and such clarity of purpose and inevitable certainty appears to be misplaced; especially when you consider that you have not exposed the logical thought processes by which you have arrived at your version of the truth.
    • thumb
      May 21 2012: I don't know anyone that died from a cannabis overdose either but I also don;t know anyone that died of lung cancer or liver disease. I do however know many people who can't hold down a job because their long term cannabis use has rendered them unemployable. I am not apposed to legalising cannabis but the main danger of its use is the time scale over which the damage occurs. The physical changes that occur to the brain are very slow but irreversable.
  • thumb
    May 18 2012: With such easy access to the drug on the streets, there is not a tangible risk that there is an enormous unforeseen consequence in the drug itself that we will discover upon its legalization, if we were to take this route. The war on drugs has killed countless people and devastated economies to an unreasonable extent. The effort put into stopping the use of this drug far exceeds the effort that our country puts into preventing much more dangerous products, lifestyles, etc. I think it's time that America faced the facts--there's not a good reason to keep marijuana illegal. Marijuana as a medicine has been proven effective and there is certainly not a good reason not to legalize medicinal marijuana.
    • thumb
      May 18 2012: While your points about the the drug trade are valid, I have to question whether legalizing the use of marijuana as a prescription drug would do anything to change the war on drugs. Prescription drugs are widely abused and are still a large part of the drug trade. Legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana would only make it more available to the general population. However it isn't as insidious of a drug as say oxycontin, which is a legalized, highly addictive prescription painkiller.

      • May 19 2012: Oxycontin is far worse from my second had experience than marijuana. It seems to completely numb your ability to think and form logical statements. Marijuana does sometimes get that bad but it requires much more visible signs and often other drugs are thrown into the mix, most comedians seem to have some relationship with illegal drugs during their careers often without huge adverse affects. I feel their is more time for treatment of the marijuana smoker than the Oxycontin patient. If you look at recent celebrities deaths reports, I think most the suicides have Oxycontin in their system(Would like to see better figures if anybody has them than my feelings. I know both Whitney Houston and Micheal Jackson had problems with this drug as well as Rush Limbaugh) I would much rather every patient be told to smoke or eat marijuana than take Oxycontin.
  • May 18 2012: I smoked Cannabis for years, not in big amounts but quite often. I don´t smoke it now because I gave up cigarettes and decided its all or nothing (in my case). There is no harm in it and its something thats pretty much available anywhere so I say why not legalise it and produce jobs and income for states/countries. Also at the same time reducing silly costs on trying to prohibit the substance. Its a relaxing effect that does not shape or change your judgement like alcohol would. People in some countries end up drinking so much that they can even remember their own name never mind act responsibly. Basically its hard for me to come up with a logical explanation as to why its not legal. In spain you can have a plant for personal use but only the people who want to smoke cannabis will smoke it. Its like anything else (drink, cigarettes, junk food etc etc). The only thing I found to be as a (for want of another word) bad effect is that if you have a spliff late at night, its in my case hard to get up early the next morning. But on the other hand the argument is that it helps people sleep :) . If you have work tomorrow early well you not going to get drunk because its hard to get up in the moring. Legalise it and let people make up their own minds about smoking it or not !! I´ve been to Amsterdam and there are people that live over there and they don´t smoke it but yet its available to buy in every coffee shop.

    Well I just registered with Ted and this is my first message but I look forward to communicating with you´s in the future !
    • thumb
      May 18 2012: I think you brought up an interesting point about finding it hard to come up with a logical explanation as to why it isn't legal. As someone stated earlier, many states are beginning to legalize it for medical uses. I think this is great because Cannabis has been shown to have many positive effects. What's interesting to me is how Cannabis is only taken seriously when you put "medical" in front of marijuana. If you just want to smoke a bowl and get high with your friends, that's illegal. But if you're in pain and want marijuana, some states say that's alright. Alcohol and cigarettes haven't been shown to be as medically useful as marijuana, yet they're legal. I think it's interesting the way our society works sometimes... But I digress. Getting back to the original question, I see no problems with marijuana as an alternative medicine. I believe anybody who has tried it knows that it's really not as big of a deal as it has been portrayed to be, and is hoping that the government stops treating this issue the way it has in the past.
  • thumb
    May 17 2012: Legalizing Cannabis whether it be strictly for medicinal use or just in general would produce another area for the government to tax citizens. At this point in the economic downfall I don't see why it shouldn't be legalized. The possible tax that would be put on it has the potential to be so great that it could greatly impact the deficit this country is in. I am not saying taxing of Cannabis due to legalization will fix the economic problem in this country but it does have the potential to impact it positively. Then again this may just be the Oregonian side of me talking since we are one of the sixteen states that allows the usage of Cannabis for medicinal purposes, which has put it openly in the public specially the last few years as being beneficial as medicine. Also Oregon is one of the states that has a lesser fine if caught compared to other states (misdemeanor if caught with possession of anything under an ounce).
  • thumb
    May 17 2012: Wondering why this question coming again and again....?
    Is that a burning issue ?
    Don't we have any other alternatives what some biochemical substance of cannabis can do with better risk benefit ratio?
    I know some of those cannabis derivative produced pharamceutically are already approved on prescription basis (sorry for my ignorance about US) in many countries.
    Is the premise suggesting cannabis should be available in way so that anyone can buy it even without a medical reason?
    • May 19 2012: The US has prosecuted across sovereign Native American Treaty lines against Native Americans that were growing hemp, or very low THC marijuana who asked permission prior to growing and got a positive response. PBS did a story covering the Native Americans that feel victim to this attack. All hemp in the United States is imported just like all or almost all our morphine. We do not want the risk of drugs here so we export the problem.
  • thumb
    May 17 2012: Hmm. Two things interest me:

    - Does cannabis have any exclusive properties? That is, are its qualities unique? Noted above are its abilities to treat glaucoma, Parkinson's, AIDS, and cancer. To my knowledge there are other medicines, even natural products, that treat these also. If there is a replacement--one that does not have the history of addiction associated with it as cannabis does--that leads me away from legalization of cannabis.

    - How "pure" is medical marijuana? That is, how far distanced from utilizing the plant itself, rather than a byproduct or isolated compound, or synthetic, is our use of cannabis? (I simply do not know -- feel free to edify.) That, to me, would be the greatest boon. I tend to think that the closer we are to nature's essential product, ultimately the more beneficial it is.

    Of course, even I have to regard this last comment of mine with some skepticism, because a poison dart frog's toxin may be "pure," but that doesn't mean it's good for you.
    • May 19 2012: Purity in products is often not desired the same way it is in manufacturing, or other fields as your last part clearly states. Often the ratio of harmful is to small in the products we have cultivated for many years, but still is there. Taking apples to cyanide, or your prescription drug that is supposed to be diluted with food and or water. All naturally growing things have a balance that protects their life and often makes it so something else can digest it without too much ill effects.
      One of the primary arguments against modern pot has been humans have greatly increased the THC production of the plant. (THC is what makes one "high"). People against the legalization this brings it closer to the poison apple.
      People for the use often use the argument that this balance in which grows naturally includes good natural combinations, that are often not found in your purer pharmaceutical grade drugs. Smoking pot with chemotherapy has fewer negative reactions than any appetite enhancing drug as well as numbing the pain. If you purified it getting the right doses also becomes more difficult. Pot like many plants can also be baked into food like a grain,
  • thumb
    May 23 2012: By any consistent standard of substance hazard, cannabis is FAR less dangerous than many legal substances- for example, alcohol.
    The number of deaths in the history of humanity due to marijuana overdose? Still a whopping none, zero, nada.
    So if we as a society were looking to hold all substances to a consistent standard of control, of COURSE cannabis should be allowable as an alternative medicine, and should be treated with similar or less regulation than alcohol in every other sphere!
    But unfortunately we don't hold all substances to a consistent standard, because there is money to be made transforming the medicinal properties of this plant into a pill!