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What are the Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana?

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Updated May 15, 2014

What are the Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana?
Photo: Davies and Starr / Getty Images
Question: What are the Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana?
The debate over medical marijuana is festering and coming to a head. Fourteen U.S. states have active medical marijuana laws but the federal government still classifies it as a Class I controlled substance, which is illegal to possess. With strong supporters on each side of the debate and a new administration, the arguments for and against the legalization or marijuana are hot topics.

What are the debated pros and cons of medical marijuana?

Answer:

Pros of Medical Marijuana

The legalization of marijuana for medical reasons is viewed favorably by many Americans, including members of the medial community and congress. Some of the pros to medical marijuana that they argue:
  • Marijuana is effective at relieving nausea and vomiting, especially caused by chemotherapy used to treat cancer.
  • Marijuana can relieve spasticity of the muscles that is sometimes associated with multiple sclerosis and paralysis.
  • Marijuana can help treat appetite loss associated with HIV/AIDS and certain types of cancers.
  • Marijuana can relieve certain types of pain.
  • Marijuana is safe, safer in fact than most other prescribed medications to treat the same symptoms.
  • Studies show that smoking marijuana alone (without the concurrent use of tobacco) does not increase the risk of lung diseases.
  • Marijuana has been used for centuries as a medicinal agent with good effect.

Cons of Medical Marijuana

For every person who is for legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, there is another who argues against it. Some of the arguments from the opposition include:

  • Frequent marijuana use can seriously affect your short-term memory.
  • Frequent use can impair your cognitive ability.
  • Smoking anything, whether it's tobacco or marijuana, can seriously damage your lung tissue.
  • Not enough evidence supports marijuana as an effective pain relieving agent.
  • Marijuana carries a risk of abuse and addiction.
  • Smoked marijuana contains cancer-causing compounds.
  • Smoked marijuana has been implicated in a high percentage of automobile crashes and workplace accidents.
Unfortunately, clinical trials to evaluate of the effectiveness of marijuana to treat certain conditions have been restrictive and limited. Until marijuana is downgraded from a Schedule I drug of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), widespread clinical trials are unlikely to happen. If we really want a conclusive answer whether marijuana is valuable for symptom management, it needs to be evaluated using the same standards as other medications.

Source:

ProCon.org.

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