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?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • 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.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.