Expert Opinions Two experts debate the pros and cons of medical marijuana, offering opinions on whether it should be legalized. This article was originally hosted on MyFamilyDoctorMag. Are other medicines more effective than marijuana?
In national surveys, 48 percent of Americans say they have tried it, and 6. So it was not too surprising when two states, Washington and Colorado, became the first to legalize recreational marijuana in the November general election, albeit in limited quantity, for anyone over the age of Activists expect that similar measures will soon win approval in other parts of the country.
Some success with medical marijuana helped to pave the road to wider legalization of pot.
It's been an important week for supporters of marijuana legalization. Voters in two states — Alaska and Oregon — and Washington, D.C., took to the polls on Tuesday to approve recreational. Aug 09, · Whether you love it or hate it, it’s a fact that 29 states so far have some form of marijuana decriminalization or legalization, with more considering the possibility. The economic benefits of legalizing weed have already been apparent as the first states have moved to change their legal positions.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia permit possession and consumption of the drug for medical purposes. Doctors in those jurisdictions may prescribe cannabis to treat or manage ailments ranging from glaucoma—an eye disease in which the optic nerve is damaged—to menstrual cramps.
Cancer patients sometimes smoke pot to relieve the pain and nausea brought on by chemotherapy, and some people with the inflammatory disease multiple sclerosis rely on marijuana to ease muscle stiffness. Although many physicians agree that marijuana is safe enough to temporarily alleviate the symptoms of certain medical conditions, the safety of recreational use is poorly understood.
Researchers worry that both the short- and long-term use of the drug may harm the body and mind. Marijuana's continued popularity among teenagers raises particular concern because the drug might hinder the ongoing maturation of the adolescent brain.
Making matters worse, new growing techniques for the Cannabis sativa plant—from which marijuana is prepared—have dramatically increased the drug's potency. Some experts suggest that such high-octane weed is fueling a rise in cannabis addiction.
Finally, although investigators still debate how the legalization of recreational marijuana will change road safety overall, studies indicate that the drug slows reaction time and impairs distance perception behind the wheel. Despite such evidence, most new marijuana regulations, for medical or recreational use, fail to account for these potential risks.
Weeded Out Whether rolled into a joint or mixed into brownie batter, marijuana profoundly changes behavior and awareness. The primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol THCmimics the structure of molecules called endocannabinoids that the human body produces naturally.
Endocannabinoids act on a group of cell-surface molecules called cannabinoid receptors that help to regulate appetite, mood and memory.
Because of its shape, THC fits into these receptors, too. Suddenly, the mundane seems hilarious, and ordinary foods taste delicious. People generally feel merry, relaxed and introspective, although undesirable effects—such as paranoia and irritability—are common as well.
Marijuana also temporarily impairs an array of mental abilities, especially memory and attention. Dozens of studies have shown, for example, that people under the influence of marijuana perform worse on tests of working memory, which is the ability to temporarily hold and manipulate information in one's mind.
Participants in these studies have greater difficulty remembering and reciting short lists of numerals and random words. Research has further revealed that cannabis blunts concentration, weakens motor coordination and interferes with the ability to quickly scan one's surroundings for obstacles.
Such mild cognitive deficits may not endanger anyone if a marijuana user lazes on the couch, but it is a different story when someone takes that high on the road.
In driving-simulation and closed-course studies, people on marijuana are slower to hit the brakes and worse at safely changing lanes.
Investigators still debate, however, at what point these impairments translate to more traffic accidents. A study found an increased risk of accidents for levels of THC higher than five nanograms per milliliter of blood, which some evidence indicates is as impairing as a blood alcohol concentration around the legal limit of 0.
Typically one would have to take several puffs of a joint to reach such a concentration. Enforcing that limit presents a technical challenge, however. Unlike alcohol, marijuana cannot be detected with a relatively unobtrusive Breathalyzer test. Police officers would have to look for it in blood—something that often requires a warrant.
Instead of using a blood test, Armentano says that police should look for poor maneuvering and the smell of pot wafting from the vehicle.
Smoke Signals Although marijuana's immediate effects are relatively easy to monitor in the lab, the drug's long-term effects on body and mind are harder to determine. So far the results—which admittedly are subject to multiple interpretations—indicate the need for caution.
In one recent study, clinical psychologist Madeline Meier of Duke University and her colleagues examined data from 1, New Zealanders. They found that people who began using pot earlier in life and used it most frequently over the years experienced an average decline of eight IQ points by the time they turned By comparison, those who never smoked pot had an average increase of one IQ point by the same age.
People who start smoking marijuana at an earlier age are often less intelligent to begin with. Even if this is true, Meier says, her study shows that the IQ drop is greatest for those who started smoking pot as teenagers rather than in adulthood, indicating a worrisome cumulative effect regardless of intelligence.
This finding, she thinks, makes it all the more important to discourage the early use of marijuana among teens. Increasingly potent marijuana of recent years may be driving a sharp rise in cannabis addiction among adolescents, according to a report released last year by the American Society of Addiction Medicine.Legalizing Marijuana The issue of legalizing marijuana, also known as Cannabis Sativa, has been controversial for a long time, and has become even more so in recent years.
Cannabis Sativa is a plant that has been used for a variety of purposes by many cultures for thousands of years. Marijuana is a very controversial topic. In the community, you can find several different opinions on marijuana.
Some people believe marijuana must be legalized for the greater good of society, some people believe the United States should legalize marijuana solely for medical usage, some be.
Feb 25, · WebMD’s web site for health professionals surveyed 1, doctors as more than 10 states consider bills to legalize medical marijuana. It is already legal in 21 states and Washington, DC. When states legalize recreational marijuana, there's a surge in marijuana-related traffic fatalities and poisonings, especially among children.
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act raised more than enough signatures to get Proposition 64 added to the state ballot in November. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu. Beyond the tremendous market growth above, the state of California itself stands to earn a substantial chunk of cash from marijuana legalization.
Opinion research shows that Americans' stance on marijuana legalization has shifted dramatically over the past few decades. In , just 13 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of Democrats said.