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Neil Deatherage

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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?

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  • 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.
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      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.
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          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.
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          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.
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      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.
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        May 21 2012: Cannabis was actually introduced to the Americas by early european settlers. It comes from Asia originally.

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