Words by Isabella Reharta. Image Via.
For years, there has been many debates around the legalisation and the banning of marijuana. Historically speaking, how cannabis became illegal in the first place was mainly being influenced by people’s unfamiliarity, combined with fear and prejudice from the society to new things. Legalising marijuana for recreational use sparks outrage, let alone legalising marijuana for medicinal use. But, a few states in the USA have finally legalised marijuana for medicinal use, and even recreational use, and in recent years Australia has decided to take part in this legalisation.
The use of medicinal cannabis is finally being legalised by Victoria, which has become the first state in Australia to do so. On April 12th 2016, the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act finally passed the Victorian Parliament giving access to patients to get legal medicinal cannabis products. Victoria’s Health Minister Jill Hennesy told ABC News that in 2017, children with severe epilepsy would be the first group to gain access to medicinal cannabis. Hennessy said that the reason they are starting with this group of children is because their lives have been shown to improve because of the use of medical cannabis. The medicinal cannabis will take in a various of form such as oils, capsules, sprays, tinctures, etc.
But, not all people are happy with this legalization. They have various of reasons on why marijuana needs to stay illegal for people, especially in medical field. For example, Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM) which is an all-volunteer Political Action Committee that is made to legalization of marijuana. In CALM official website, they wrote that the reason why marijuana should be illegal because it is still being identified as a schedule I drug by the DEA. Drugs that are being categorized in schedule are seen as the most dangerous drugs because it could cause dependency to its user, is not accepted for medical use and have a high potential for abuse.
“In contrary, there are actually a few surprising benefits of smoking cannabis…”
Professor Nick Talley, which is the president of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, wrote on the Daily Telegraph that the legalization of medicinal cannabis will cause confusing dilemmas in the community and doctors. One of the reason is because there is not standard dose of cannabis, so it would be hard for doctors to give an exact prescribe medicinal cannabis for a patient. Talley wrote that he agrees the use of cannabis can help a little bit for people who will not be able to live much longer because it may not cause that much harm, but might gives an unpleasant feeling. Giving medicinal cannabis to children also may cause mental illness or psychosis and even a higher risk of certain cancers when being smoke, wrote Talley.
Even though there are many people who are against the legalisation of marijuana, especially in the medical field, many studies have found several benefits of marijuana, especially in the medical field. It is sometimes said that the dangerous thing about marijuana is being addicted to it. In contrary, there are actually a few surprising benefits of smoking cannabis, especially for people who are really ill. Marijuana is in fact, much safer to smoke than tobacco. The development of lung cancer can also be decreases by smoking pot. Dr. Donald Tashkin, a professor of medicine in UCLA that studied about drug and its effects said that the smoke of marijuana has the same high concentrations of carcinogens, similar to the one that is found in tobacco. Nevertheless, in an interview by LA Weekly he said that he did not find any positive relation between smoking pot and lung cancer. In fact, smoking marijuana does not cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a term that is use to describe progressive lung disease such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and other forms of bronchiectasis. “Reasoning for this may be that marijuana is a potent anti-inflammatory and suppressive,” Tashkin continues, “COPD is activated by tobacco smoke and other toxic substances.”
The use of medicinal cannabis must not be mistaken that even though smoking pot will not develop cancer, it still will not able to cure cancer completely. However, smoking pot could actually help to prevent the spread of breast cancer cells. According to a research from the California Pacific Medical Research Center cannabis consist of cannabidiol (CDB) which is a non-psychoactive compound. CBD can prevent metastasis, which is a tumor’s ability to spread throughout the body, in breast cancer cells. In BBC News one of the researchers, McAllister, explained that treatment such as chemotherapy might not be effective on some people and intense chemotherapy have side effects like nausea and pain. Whereas CBD that is found in cannabis has a very low toxicity profile compare to standard cancer treatments, said McAllister.
Generally, people might think that smoking pot will actually cause people to be overweight, because smoking pot tends to develop the constant feeling of being hungry and wanting to eat food, or ‘the munchies’. Despite of this believe, a recent study has proven this myth to be wrong. A study that was released by the journal Obesity found that compared to non-marijuana users, people who smoke weed actually have a lower rate of obesity and diabetes. Regular cannabis users are found to have a lower body mass index, lower fat percentages, and lower fasting insulin level. Even though smoking pot might give its users ‘the munchies’ feeling and would be hard to resist on a sweet and savory food, studies have found that regular cannabis users are about 30% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Despite of having people protesting the legalization of marijuana and use it as a medicine, it still does not change the fact that weed can actually help people who are sick and need medical attention. So yes, cannabis will no doubt bring a change to the field of medicine, if it being used correctly with the right prescription.