Medical Marijuana Benefits and Risks
The practice of using marijuana for medicinal purposes accounts to hundreds of years and it has not become the official cause of death of a single lethal outcome. The results of a number of studies, published in major medical journals, have identified the potential benefits of marijuana for health and its assistance in the treatment of many diseases. Since the beginning of the present century, the government of the United States of America conducted several national research programs on marijuana. Consequently, the programs’ results revealed hundreds of diseases that positively responded to marijuana. Thus, medical marijuana has proved to be efficient in the treatment of the following common diseases: Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, sclerosis, glaucoma, arthritis, depression and provide a strong pain relief effect. In addition, the use of medical marijuana causes ethical aspects in specific economic issues relating to marijuana legalization and directly affects hospitality businesses like Hilton, Starwood, and Four Seasons.
Benefits of Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana or medical cannabis is a term used to define the medical application of its compounds as effective medical instruments in the therapy of many existing illnesses (Iversen 4). The therapeutic effect is achieved, owing to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the leading compound of cannabis. The social perception of marijuana, as a dangerous drug, has historically affected the position of many individuals and political activists. Though the forenamed issue has caused a vast amount of social opposition, twenty three American states along with Districts Colombia have introduced marijuana’s legalized status by June 2014 (Greenspoon). The use of marijuana is tracked back to the times of Ancient Greece (from the 5 century BCE) and Ancient India (back to, approximately, 1500 BCE) (Iversen 18). Its major purpose was associated with agriculture and ceremonial experiences achieved with the help of marijuana’s ability to change the emotional state of the recipients. Consequently, throughout human history, marijuana was cultivated and used by people as a source of industrial fiber, food, oil, and for medical purposes.
Seeds of cannabis are a recognized valuable source of protein. Cannabis’ flowers were used in many countries for acquiring cannabinoids, widely known as principle psychoactive and physiologically active constituents. The psychoactive nature of marijuana was used to reach two purposes: recreational and medical. Similarly, marijuana is presently used both for entertaining and medical purposes. As it has been mentioned before, U.S. statistics does not provide any recorded deaths resulting from cannabis use. According to Lester Greenspoon, an honorary professor of the Harvard Medical School, marijuana is a powerful non-toxic drug, whose healing property completely justifies the legal access to cannabis (Greenspoon). According to the research conducted by Paul Hornby, a man is supposed to make fifteen thousands of tokes within twenty minutes in order to receive a lethal dose of cannabis (Hornby 70).
Appropriate medical marijuana dosage is important in terms of its beneficiary reaction on the human body as a pain relief substance. The regulation of pain sensitivity and the treatment of chronic pain put medical marijuana above the traditional medications. As a matter of fact, medical marijuana may not only reduce the pain experienced by the patient, but actually improve the quality of his or her life, without performing the manifestation of the devastating side-effects of chemical pain-relievers (Iversen 74). Medical marijuana has proved its effectiveness in the therapy of digestive disorders due to its anti-emetic and analgesic properties. It alleviates cramping, chronic diarrhea, nausea, constipation and inflammation of the intestines caused by such gastrointestinal disorder as the Bowel diseases (Ruiz and Strain 215). Marijuana has a similar healing effect when applied on human skin. Owing to its lipophilic characteristics, it can penetrate the cells and help with all types of skin inflammations simultaneously relieving the pain. Medical marijuana also helps in the solution of psychic disorders in cases when traditional medications are not capable of operating in a fast and efficient manner to affect the patient’s lack of appetite and depressive moods. In such cases, the use of medical marijuana allows such individuals to function on a satisfactory level in their everyday relationships (Hornby 74). As opposed to recreational smoking of marijuana, the intake of medical marijuana is mainly conducted by means of pills and oral sprays, which have resulted to be effective in reducing stiffness, muscle spasms, and easing the nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy among cancer patients (Wang et. al. 1670). In addition, medical marijuana is used for treating glaucoma and assisting patients with HIV/ AIDS. Glaucoma is one of the main reasons why people go blind. In 1970, an investigation of the efficiency of medical marijuana proved its positing effect in terms of glaucoma treatment. The positive effect was primarily achieved due to the ability of marijuana to reduce intraocular pressure (Ruiz and Strain 767). The reduction of the intraocular pressure prevents the progression of glaucoma and, therefore, saves the patient’s eyesight. Medical marijuana is vital in terms of patient with HIV/ AIDS. The HIV virus slowly attacks one’s immune system, simultaneously weakening the protective properties of the human body. As a result, the immune system becomes incapable of standing infections, and develops AIDS, which condemns man to short and painful life. Medical marijuana is used to reduce the painful symptoms when traditional medicines do not help or their side effects only worsen the patient’s condition. Marijuana helps to relieve the following symptoms among patients with HIV/ AIDS: nausea and neuropathic pain as major side effects of HIV medications, poor appetite, sleeping disorders, and depression (Wang et. al. 1670).
Potential Health Risks
Despite the large list of medical benefits, the intake of medical marijuana is associated with several potential health risks. The primary health risks related to medical marijuana deal with the increased risk of cancer, suppression of the immune system, corrupt operation of cognitive and coordination functions, and the effect of tetrahydrocannabinol on the cannabinoid receptors. According to the 2013 research, medical marijuana may result to be carcinogenic with the possibility of increasing the lung cancer, testicular cancer and bladder cancer risks (Koppel et.al. 1557). Nevertheless, it is still impossible to establish a direct link between marijuana intake and potential risks of cancer, though such possibility is not to be underestimated in terms of long-term use. The effect of medical marijuana on the human immune system remains unclear, due to the contradicting scientific evidence. On the one hand, scientific research has displayed the immunosuppressive nature of marijuana, which increases the patient’s risks of having cancer and different infections. On the other hand, marijuana allows dealing with a large number of clinical disorders which require suppression of the immune system. This primarily occurs due to the fact that marijuana arrests the development of white blood cells, known as monocytes which are responsible for defending the human body from external infections (Iversen 133). Similarly, long-term exposure to marijuana has a destructive effect on such cognitive processes as thinking, memory, and attention, simultaneously affecting the individual’s coordination and perception of time. Cognitive impairments are very likely to become a major concern of individuals exposed to prolonged high dose marijuana intake (Koppel et. al. 1561). In addition, the latter affects the neuropsychological parameters of the human body, corrupting the individual’s coordination and perception of time. The mentioned neuropsychological parameters strongly depend on the system of cannabinoid receptors located in the human brain. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound of marijuana, was proved to decrease the binding of the cannabinoid receptors and, therefore, provoke malfunctions of the appetite, sensation of pain, ability to memorize, and the individual’s general mood (Iversen 48). All of the risks mentioned above support the idea of the ambivalent nature of all the possible benefits and risks of medical marijuana intake.
Marijuana Industry and Statistics
It is a well known fact that marijuana industry sold more than twenty million worth of cannabis during the first four month of its legalization. In addition, studies have proved that the legalization of marijuana on a federal level could save almost fourteen billion dollars for the U.S. government in terms of healthcare, social services and criminal justice (Bradford). Tax experts and attorneys claim that the legalization proposal which includes restrictions on advertising and drugged driving and has three distinct excise taxes has the potential of generating roughly five hundred million dollars in state revenue (Evans 4). The tax revenue, in its turn, can help building more public schools and fund various useful social programs. Each medical marijuana store creates 75 indirect job places (Bradford). This money can be used for improving roads, bridges and other pieces of infrastructure that desperately need to be improved. It is hard to underestimate the economic impact of the use of legalization of medical marijuana, as it implies several aftereffects, such as possible emergence of new jobs which is a direct perfection of the present economic situation and social stratification. According to the report presented by New York Times, Oakland, California managed to attain over one million tax revenue from the legalization of medical marijuana (Bradford). It goes without saying that the legalization of marijuana affects many business industries, along with such hospitality businesses like Hilton, Starwood, and Four Seasons. As a matter of fact, medical marijuana laws raise certain concerns for the hospitality industry. The major issue of medical marijuana use is the fact that, potentially, employees and guests of the hospitality industries can use it in medical purposes. Marijuana use on property is seen as unacceptable acts for luxurious hotels, such as Hilton, Starwood, or Four Seasons. Thus, the legalization of medical marijuana arouses serious ethical issues which have to be solved as separate situations. In other words, the hospitality industry appears to function on the periphery of the medical cannabis industry, as its hotels include restaurants and bars. Correspondingly, hospitality businesses are in deep need of developing new strategies of avoiding conflicting public situations until of the applicable laws and regulation will be applied.
The fact that marijuana has been addressed as a narcotic substance has strongly complicated its application as a medication. Throughout centuries, it has been used for entertaining and medical purposes. The use of marijuana is associated with certain health risks, related to lung cancer, testicular cancer and bladder cancer. Nevertheless, it possesses a list of benefits and can be used in therapy of an impressive amount of diseases accompanied by pain, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, etc. The therapeutic effect of tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary compound of marijuana, has proved to be essential in such severe diseases as cancer and HIV/ AIDS, as it improves the quality of the patient’s life. Besides, medical marijuana causes potential complications for the functioning of the hospitality business, as it provokes ethical issues in terms of exposure to medical marijuana of the employees and the guests of the restaurants and bars located in the buildings of the hospitality industries.