Last updated on: 1/15/2019 | Author: ProCon.org

Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option?

PRO (yes)

Pro

Chanda Macias, MBA, PhD, Owner and CEO of National Healing Holistic Center, stated the following in her Jan. 14, 2019 article titled “After Medical Marijuana, Broader Legalization Is a Natural Step,” published on philly.com:

“Marijuana is medicine. This plant-based treatment should be an accessible and affordable healthcare choice for all patients. Scientific data supports its use to treat specific ailments or conditions — research has shown, for example, that it’s an exceptionally effective treatment for seizures and chronic pain.

This plant can be used in many forms of application or ingestion. My professional team at National Holistic Healing Center (NHHC), a medical marijuana dispensary serving over 10,000 patients in the Washington D.C. area, recommends specific strains with known benefits to treat depression, insomnia, ADHD, pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many more ailments. Like any medicine, marijuana must be prescribed and dosed properly.”

Jan. 14, 2019

Pro

Pedro Oliveros, MD, Medical Director at the Physical Medicine & Rehab Center of Orlando, stated the following in his Feb. 9, 2018 article titled “Commentary: Medical Marijuana Can Help Reduce Our Opioid Dependency: Physician,” available at orlandosentinel.com:

“As a physician, I have constantly searched for treatment options for my patients’ chronic pain. And until the Florida medical marijuana initiative passed with an astonishing 71.3 percent majority in 2016, I realized I had many misconceptions about the drug. With research, though, I learned that marijuana not only has multiple potential medical uses, but it also has fewer side effects compared to other medications…

In addition to pain relief, medical marijuana provides relief to the common conditions associated with chronic pain, such as anxiety/depression and insomnia. With medical marijuana, the pharmacological management for chronic pain can be simplified with lesser need to also prescribe medications for anxiety, depression and insomnia…

The addictive effect of marijuana is slight, and there is no risk of death with marijuana withdrawal.”

Feb. 9, 2018

Pro

The Herald Editorial Board stated in its Jan. 24, 2017 editorial titled “Legalize Marijuana for Medical Purposes,” available at heraldonline.com:

“Medical marijuana shows considerable promise in reducing chronic pain from a widespread number of causes, including cancer, spinal cord injury and disease, severe spasms, post-traumatic stress disorder, nausea, glaucoma, Parkinson’s and other debilitating ailments. The drug could prove useful in other applications if patients are allowed to use it.

It is nonsensical to oppose the use of medical marijuana in the midst of what amounts to a nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction. Why not provide patients with a safer option? And why continue to allow doctors to prescribe powerful, addictive opiates but deny them the authority to legally prescribe medical marijuana?

It is illogical and potentially heartless to deny patients with serious health problems a drug that could help mediate pain and discomfort with few, if any, side effects.”

Jan. 24, 2017

Pro

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) stated the following on its page titled “Medical Use,” available at norml.org (accessed Mar. 26, 2018):

“Marijuana, or cannabis, as it is more appropriately called, has been part of humanity’s medicine chest for almost as long as history has been recorded…

Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief — particularly of neuropathic pain (pain from nerve damage) — nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant, specifically for patients suffering from HIV, the AIDS wasting syndrome, or dementia. Emerging research suggests that marijuana’s medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors and are neuroprotective.”

Mar. 26, 2018

Pro

Karen O’Keefe, JD, attorney and Legislative Analyst for Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), wrote the following in a Mar. 28, 2018 email to ProCon.org:

“It is fundamentally wrong to make preserving one’s health — or life — a crime. Yet federal marijuana laws, along with the laws of many states, do just that.

There is overwhelming evidence that cannabis is one of the safest treatment options. Even the DEA’s Chief Administrative Law Judge at the time, Francis Young, came to that conclusion. Research has shown that marijuana alleviates several serious symptoms and conditions including pain, nausea and wasting, Crohn’s disease, spasms, and glaucoma.

While around 15,000 Americans die every year from overdoses on prescription opiates, there has never been a medically documented fatal overdose on marijuana. Meanwhile, research has shown that cannabis can allow patients to reduce or eliminate their need for opiates.

It is cruel and senseless to criminalize the doctor-advised use of a safe and effective treatment option.”

Mar. 28, 2018

Pro

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) stated the following in its article “ASA Policy Positions,” available at safeaccessnow.org (accessed Mar. 26, 2018):

“Numerous controlled clinical studies have confirmed cannabis’s therapeutic benefit in relieving an array of symptoms for people living with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, hepatitis, arthritis, and chronic pain, among many other conditions…

Medical professionals should have an unrestricted ability to recommend cannabis therapeutics and that should not be impacted by law enforcement’s perceptions.”

Mar. 26, 2018

Pro

The American Nurses Association (ANA) wrote the following in its 2016 position statement titled “Therapeutic Use of Marijuana and Related Cannabinoids,” available on the ANA website:

“The purpose of this statement is to reiterate the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) support for the review and reclassification of marijuana’s status from a federal Schedule I controlled substances to facilitate urgently needed clinical research to inform patients and providers on the efficacy of marijuana and related cannabinoids…

ANA has supported providing safe access to therapeutic marijuana and related cannabinoids for over 20 years… In addition, the ANA House of Delegates has gone on record as supporting nurses’ advocacy for patients using marijuana and other related cannabinoids for therapeutic use.”

[Editor’s Note: Prior to the above Pro statement, the ANA expressed the below Pro position in its Mar. 19, 2004 “Position Statement: Providing Patients Safe Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis,” available on the ANA website.] 2016

CON (no)

Con

The Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center, stated the following in a Jan. 10, 2019 article by Paul Terpeluk, DO, Medical Director of Employee Health Services, titled “Should ‘Medical Marijuana’ Be Recommended for Patients? Why Our Answer Is ‘No,'” available at health.clevelandclinic.org:

“Q: As more states legalize ‘medical marijuana’, should it be recommended for patients?

A: At Cleveland Clinic, we believe there are better alternatives.

In the world of healthcare, a medication is a drug that has endured extensive clinical trials, public hearings and approval by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Medications are tested for safety and efficacy. They are closely regulated, from production to distribution. They are accurately dosed, down to the milligram.

Medical marijuana is none of those things…

Patients deserve to know that whatever they are using to control their symptoms is safe and effective. And clinicians need to have confidence that a treatment will work as intended.”

Jan. 10, 2019

Con

Scott Gavura, MBA, registered pharmacist and Director of Provincial Drug Reimbursement Programs at Cancer Care Ontario, stated the following in his Jan. 11, 2018 article titled “Medical Marijuana: Where Is the Evidence?,” published at sciencebasedmedicine.org:

“The use of psychoactive drugs like marijuana is a health issue, particularly when used for medical purposes. Regrettably, there is a lack of high-quality data that shows marijuana for most medical purposes is both safe and effective. What little evidence exists is of poor quality and may not even be representative of the purposes for which medical marijuana is sought. There are significant gaps in information necessary to treat marijuana like other forms of medicine: Dosage standardization and overall quality control may not be in place…

If marijuana is to be treated as medicine, then it needs to meet the same standards of quality, effectiveness, and safety we would expect of any other prescription drug. That standard has not yet been met.”

Jan. 11, 2018

Con

Alex Berenson, Novelist and former New York Times reporter, stated the following in his 2019 book titled Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence:

“Even now, doctors cannot prescribe marijuana, because the FDA has never approved cannabis to treat any medical conditions…

Cannabis’s general uselessness as medicine shouldn’t surprise anyone who thinks through the issue. The human body is incredibly complicated… Why would a single plant treat conditions as different as dementia, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer?… We don’t pretend that garlic or nightshade cure diseases better than more modern medicines, so why do we do so for marijuana?”

2019

Con

Mary Haag, RN, President & CEO of PreventionFIRST!, stated the following in an interview with reporter Todd Dykes, published in a Feb. 19, 2016 article titled “Should Fate of Medical Marijuana in Ohio Be Left in Hands of Lawmakers, Voters?,” available at wlwt.com:

“We can’t really call marijuana medicine. It’s not a legitimate medicine. The brain is not fully developed until we’re about 25. That’s just the way it is, and using any kind of mind-altering substance impacts that development. It needs to go through the FDA process. There is no drug that can or should be smoked, but when we get to potential components of marijuana that might have medicinal benefits, then let’s find out what that is. Most of our medicines have come from plants.

They’re plant-based, but they’ve gone through that rigorous process. Because, let’s face it, any medicine is a toxin. I don’t care if it’s penicillin or aspirin or a narcotic. Any of those are toxins to our bodies. And that’s why we have the FDA process.”

Feb. 19, 2016

Con

Northern Kentucky Regional Drug-Free Communities Coalitions, a group of seven anti-drug organizations, stated the following in its Feb. 15, 2018 article titled “Op-ed: Let’s Be More Careful about Legalizing Marijuana,” available at wcpo.com:

“[M]arijuana use should not be legalized in any capacity. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has NOT recognized or approved the use of marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication. Marijuana is still a Schedule I drug, and as such, is not able to be effectively researched for medicinal purposes.

Ultimately, the legalization of marijuana will lower the perception of risk.

A lower perception of harm or risk historically leads to an increased usage among youth…

Every state that has now legalized marijuana for ‘recreational’ use started by legalizing marijuana for ‘medical’ use.

This is a particularly slippery slope in a region and state already so overwhelmed by substance use and abuse.”

Feb. 15, 2018 - Northern Kentucky Regional Drug-Free Communities Coalitions

Con

Matt Baker, Representative (R) in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, stated the following in his June 11, 2017 editorial titled “Why Oppose Legalizing Marijuana,” available at sungazette.com:

“There is a substantial amount of misleading information, causing many to believe that marijuana is harmless and is a panacea and miracle drug for a plethora of medical diseases, when the substantiated medical research that has been conducted up to this point simply does not support these claims.

That’s why the leading professional medical organizations do not support legalization of marijuana outside the FDA approval process.

As a lawmaker, it is not my place to do an end run around the FDA and legalize artisanal drugs that people can grow, make products from and then sell for Commonwealth citizens to take, all without approval of the FDA, and outside what current medical practice allows.”

June 11, 2017

Con

Chuck Rosenberg, JD, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), stated the following in a press briefing, as quoted by Paula Reid and Stephanie Condon in their Nov. 4, 2015 article “DEA Chief Says Smoking Marijuana as Medicine ‘Is a Joke,'” available at cbsnews.com:

“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not… We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine — that is a joke…

There are pieces of marijuana — extracts or constituents or component parts — that have great promise. But if you talk about smoking the leaf of marijuana — which is what people are talking about when they talk about medicinal marijuana — it has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine.”

Nov. 4, 2015