The Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana – Ethics Essay
There are several positive aspects resulting from the use of medical marijuana. Some of these positive attributes include its therapeutic uses in the relief of nausea and vomiting, cancer pain, and other chronic pain associated
with debilitating illnesses. Joycelyn Elders, M.D and former U.S. General Surgeon states, “[That] the evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS. . . .”
One of marijuana’s best supported uses is for the treatment of nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy. Most cancer patients are not able to tolerate pain medications with harsh side effects to relieve the nausea caused by chemotherapy. Marijuana is used as a more mild nausea relieving medication as well as a pain medication for these cancer patients. People that support the use of marijuana claim that it also alleviates symptoms of AIDS. There is some interesting research regarding it in the treatment of appetite suppression “[that] marijuana may be valuable in the treatment of appetite suppression related diseases such as cancer and AIDS.” (Nutrition Bytes 2005, Vol. 10)
There are also several negative aspects resulting from the use of marijuana. Some of these negative attributes include harm to the immune system, and a gateway drug (leading to harder drugs). Studies have shown that marijuana affects the smoker’s body to fight against infections and helps weaken the immune system. Using marijuana has harmful effects on patients with pre-existing immune deficiencies such as AIDS, cancer chemotherapy, and organ transplants (http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/evidence99/marijuana/Health_1.html). Also marijuana use on a daily bases can impair lung function resulting in infections. Marijuana impairs coordination, perception, memory, and judgment. In addition, it triggers various mental disorders such as paranoia, depression, hallucinations, and schizophrenia.
One of marijuana’s harmful consequences is its potential role as a gateway drug, which leads to “harder” drugs. While not all people who use marijuana go on to use other drugs, there is a high risk that people who do use it will be exposed or encourage to participate in trying more dangerous drugs (Joy, Stanley, Watson, Benson, pg 5). Even though marijuana smoke delivers THC (the active ingredient in marijuana), which is useful to the body, it also delivers harmful toxins including those found within tobacco smoke. Such harmful toxins have been linked to the promotion of lung cancer. Lastly, use of marijuana has been linked to cases of cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, and larynx (http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/evidence99/marijuana/Health_1.html).