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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 21 2012: I'm cautious to say anything either way on this subject because of the huge variations of "data" that exist on this subject. Drugs have never been my biggest subject of interest, so I've never done much if any digging myself, but I've heard a ton about the subject from word of mouth, classes and such, and have heard an astounding number of "facts" that conflict with each other. For instance I’ve heard several times that fMRI's have shown that cannabis has no long term effects...and I've heard the exact opposite many times. I know fMRI isn't the most absolute science in the world, but really, the subject is just a mess and I don't see any reliable way to judge how dangerous cannabis is or isn't. Of course there’s a TON of anecdotal data about cannabis because it's very widely used illegal or not, but it's very hard to glean the level of involvement of something like drugs outside of an at least somewhat controlled environment. There are a massive numbers of factors in play.

    I will say that if it really does have strong medical properties then it should be legalized as a prescription medicine. Even if it is harmful, if it helps elevate symptoms of something else harmful, it should at least be provided as an option; as long as it's made clear that there might be adverse side effects. That’s how it goes with medicine; sometimes it’s less about finding a “cure” and more of choosing between two evils. Of course, I think the issue lies less in the dangers/benefits cannabis has on an individual level and more on what effect legalizing marijuana/medicinal marijuana has on a societal level, and that's when I officially feel unqualified to talk about the subject.
    • May 23 2012: Logan, I appreciate your honesty on the subject, and I feel compelled to agree. I simply do not know enough about this subject to feel confident arguing one side or another without adding to the plethora of insubstantial arguments already available. I have heard extremely conflicting views on almost every aspect of this debate. I completely agree that although many parts of the marijuana debate center around quality of life and how the drug will change the life of a given individual, these arguments have very little to do with the legalization status. Money and crime rate are going to be the big players in this game. I don't agree that this is how it should be, only how it is.

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