Kentucky senator Perry Clark is once more introducing a bill in support of medical marijuana. A similar bill was rejected in 2012 and now he is aiming for 2013. There are those who are adamant about the benefits of marijuana and there are those who believe the benefits have been misrepresented. There is also the question of whether health insurance would cover the cost of medical marijuana. A weighty issue to be sure.
Marijuana, or cannabis, has been used as a medicine since 2737 BC. If that history isn't enough, it is one of the traditional herbs of Chinese medicine. It is used for a variety of complaints. There are several well-documented benefits in the use of marijuana. These include the side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea and vomiting. It stimulates the appetite which can extend the life of someone who is terminally ill or for AIDS patients. It is used to lower the intraocular eye pressure present in glaucoma. Its effect on reducing pain has been suggested but also disputed.
Strangely enough, synthetic marijuana is used in a number of prescription drugs approved for use in the United States. Marinol is a Schedule III drug considered to have a low risk of addiction. Marinol is used in the treatment of anorexia in AIDS patients as well as for treating the nausea and vomiting suffered by those undergoing chemotherapy. Cesamet is another drug approved by the FDA. It seems that the major difference between these approved drugs and medical marijuana is the cost to produce. Growing a plant should be cheaper than creating the drug in a lab.
Marijuana plants contain cannabidiol which is thought to be a major anticonvulsant. It helps multiple sclerosis patients. Cannabichromene is an anti-inflammatory and may be part of the pain-killing dynamics of the plant. Patients have reported too-intense results from using Marinol. However, since it does not taste very good, Marinol will probably not penetrate the recreational market in the same way that Oxycontin and Oxycodone have. The adverse effects of Oxycodone can be severe, leading to death.
If we take a look at the oath that doctors take, we will find the following lines:
I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.
I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.
But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.
If addictive painkillers cause harm to the body, then should they be prescribed as widely as they seem to be? Should we study the effect of cannabis versus that of prescription drugs? Before taking a side in this discussion, people should do their own vetting of the arguments for and against. Once they have made their decision, they should tell their state and federal legislators. Hopefully, common sense will prevail.