Overview

The contemporary world stands divided on the question of whether marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes or not. While some countries have already approved controlled usage of marijuana, other countries too are considering the same. In fact, modern-day science is laying a great emphasis on exploring the medical benefits of marijuana and delving deeper into its substantial benefits in terms of alleviating health issues that are hard to cure otherwise.

Medical Marijuana is known to be effective for chronic pain, safer than opiates, and can be an alternative to NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve, especially for people with kidney problems, ulcers, or GERD- according to Harvard Health Publishing. The legalization of marijuana or medical marijuana is a profound controversial topic worldwide.

Millions globally use the drug for several reasons like recreational, relief, and medicinal purposes yet many are against its use and legalization. Also known as cannabis, weed, bud, pot, or ganja, marijuana is simply dried leaves or seeds from Cannabis sativa, also known as the Cannabis indica plant.

Marijuana is a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug and has over 500 chemicals, i.e THC and more than 110 cannabinoid compounds. THC produces a high effect with several other health effects. Commonly, people smoke marijuana in handheld and rolled cigarettes, blunts, pipes, sprays, or vaporizers. Others brew it as a tea and it can also be mixed in several types of food like brownies (edible marijuana). All these approaches pull THC from marijuana to offer a “high” or relief effect.

The use of cannabis is suspected to have originated in central Asia and western China and today, it is used almost in every part of the world. Although considered illegal in many nations worldwide, the use of cannabis has drastically increased in the 21st century.

The first documented case of marijuana use goes back to 2800 BC when it was listed in Emperor Shen Nung’s pharmacopeia. The initial therapeutic use of cannabis is popular among the Assyrians, Romans, Greeks, and Indian Hindus.

In 1841, William Brooke O’Shaughnessy introduced cannabis to western medicine having lived in India for quite some time. Among the many therapeutic benefits of cannabis he listed was its ability to stop convulsions in children. Over the years, the use of cannabis even though regarded as an illegal substance has increased among youths and nations, and in 2017, a trial revealed that CBD can reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy.

The latest cannabis statistics indicate that 91% of adults in the US want weed to be legalized whereas 60% support medical and recreational use of the drug. About 14% of Americans use CBD products according to Gallup and online ordering and delivery went high in 2020. Cowen Inc’s analysts project the marijuana industry at a value of $100 Billion by 2030 due to increasing consumer demand and new legal markets being opened up globally.

This essay explores what medical marijuana is, its benefits, side effects and why it should be legalized. It also details the reasons for the growing cannabis market worldwide and why some countries stand against medical marijuana despite its proven medicinal benefits. The last section provides a meticulous sample essay on the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. But let’s try to first understand what medical marijuana really is.

What is medical marijuana?

Marijuana is a complex plant and it can be smoked, eaten, inhaled through a device like a vaporizer, applied to the skin as a cream, or turned into a liquid and mixed in drinks. In a medical context, marijuana or its chemicals are used to treat diseases or for therapeutic benefits. Using marijuana for medical purposes is what draws a line between medical marijuana and any other marijuana i.e one used for recreational purposes.

The marijuana plant consists of about 500 different chemicals known as cannabinoids and all of these have different effects on the body when taken. Cannabidiol (CBD), and Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most known types of cannabinoids. CBD is non-intoxicating or does not produce psychoactive effects like THC.

It is commonly available in the form of oils, drinks, and gummies. CBD is commonly used to relieve pain, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, treat anxiety disorders, or fight cancer. CBD has also gained popularity due to its effectiveness in treating epilepsy in children.

On the other hand, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is known to produce the “high” effect that many people associate with marijuana. THC releases a chemical called dopamine which offers a relaxed feeling and also stimulates the brain to respond to pleasure.

When one smokes or vapes, the THC only takes a few minutes to make someone high and its effect can last up to 3 hours. People under the influence of THC can at times inflict pain on themselves, or others and it can also increase criminal behaviors in society. That’s why many people are against marijuana use.

Although many people globally push for the legalization of marijuana due to its medicinal properties, the FDA “Food and Drug Administration” has only approved it for the treatment of two severe forms of epilepsy i.e SMEI (Dravet syndrome) and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Medical benefits of marijuana

medicinal benefits of marijuana

Every cannabis plant has numerous potent compounds each with unique therapeutic potential and researchers are trying to study whether medical marijuanas can be used to treat chronic conditions like cancer, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's disease, HIV/AIDs, epilepsy, and seizures. Despite Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is associated with the “high” effect, many people use CBD (Cannabidiol) for medical purposes.

People report Cannabidiol to relieve insomnia, anxiety, stress, and different kinds of pain. Medical marijuana in states or countries where it is legal is also used for pain control.

However, it isn’t effective in severe cases like bone fractures and post-surgical pain. CBD is commonly used by gym-goers since it can suppress inflammation and alleviate muscle aches. Medical marijuana is also known to promote relaxation and recovery. Cannabis also helps the body to relax and enables it to recover well from a disease. Similarly, it can be used to reduce nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy.

According to Gallup, the use of CBD products among those aged 18-29 has jumped to 20% yet 14% of US adults use the drug. Additionally, SingleCare, a medical prescription savings company indicates that 45% of CBD users increased their use once the 2020 pandemic broke out. The reasons for CBD use are mainly to relieve pain (40%), anxiety (20%), and sleep (11%).

Side effects of marijuana

The drug is associated with serious risks that can impact a person’s overall health and quality of life, yet, its effects can also cross to the community or territorial levels. Marijuana use is common in all genders, age groups, and even pregnant women. But, there is no substantial evidence about the long-term effects of marijuana, and its impact on behavior, psychological states, and the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

The consumption of marijuana can lead to various short-term as well long-term side effects. The commonly know side effects of are listed.

1. Addiction: Marijuana is addictive and research shows that 1 in 6 who embark on marijuana use before they are 18 years have a higher chance of becoming addicted. It is generally due to the increased amounts of THC in marijuana compared to the concentration levels it had three decades ago. The higher the THC, the likelihood of dependency, addiction, and emergency room visits (Rubinstein et al., 2014).

2. Mental health concerns: Although cannabis has been shown to have the ability to alleviate symptoms linked to mental disorders, the drug is also linked to anxiety, depression, psychotic episodes, and suicide planning (Crocker et al.,2021).

3. Fetal issues: The use of marijuana during pregnancy is associated with impaired neurodevelopment, premature birth, fetal growth restrictions, and stillbirth. The THC chemical can also affect a baby’s health during breastfeeding.

4. Drowsiness or hallucinations: Driving under the influence of marijuana increases the risk of road accidents due to reduced coordination and difficulty responding to signals. Also, marijuana is associated with effects in terms of hallucinations in human beings upon consumption (Cravanas & Frei, 2020).

5. Aggressiveness and personality changes: It is also identified that the use of marijuana and in a more specific case, the addiction to it can lead to aggressiveness, violent actions, and personality changes in individuals (Reingle et al., 2011). Subsequently, it can lead to amplification of domestic violence, anti-social behaviors, and crimes.

6. Recurring nausea: Long-term use of marijuana can lead to sever physical issues inclusive of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (Leu & Routsolias, 2021). Consequently, a person can face recurring issues of vomiting and nausea.

7. Impaired judgement: The use of marijuana can have certain devastating impacts on brain health. One of the most common impacts on brain health is impaired judgement. It is seen in frequent marijuana smokers that their ability to judge things or be aware of their surroundings is flawed or perplexed. In addition to that, the side effects of marijuana may also include deferred response to stimuli.

The legal status of marijuana globally

Countries that have so far legalized the use of marijuana include Australia, Chile, Colombia, Canada, Barbados, Jamaica, South Africa, Mexico, Morocco, and Rwanda among others. As of April 2022, recreational use of marijuana became legal in 18 US states. Basically, marijuana has acquired a legal status in most top economies of the world.

These include Arizona, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Montana, Maine, New York, and New Mexico among others. Although many countries haven’t legalized the use of marijuana, many people in those countries smoke or use it.

In other countries, there are no legalized systems to distribute it, but people have access to it. Whereas in other countries, marijuana use for medical or spiritual reasons is legal in certain states, but not at the federal state level.

Sample essay on Marijuana

In case you are required to write an essay on medical marijuana and its legalization, the information provided here can help you craft a perfect essay. More so, you can take a leaf from this sample essay. Also, we are glad to tell you that we have an exclusive sample essays section offering effective samples on common essay topics.

Sample Essay: Discussion on Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Purposes

Introduction

The global opinion on the legalization of marijuana is highly divided with countries taking varied stances on the prospects of legalizing medical cannabis. While some nations have already designated a legal status to medical marijuana, others are highly reluctant to the same. Cannabis have a long standing history of medical use and their medical use apparently originated in China or central Asia in 2800 BC. Further, the debate on giving a legal status to the medical use of marijuana has gained momentum in contemporary times as works of modern research delve both into the uses and side effects of marijuana. Yet, there isn’t enough research conducted to prove how large-scale marijuana use and its legalization in countries can impact individual and public health (Bonvicini et al., 2022). The essay firstly presents the difference between recreational and medical marijuana, how medical marijuana works, and why it should be legalized. The latter sections will focus on the possible effects of legalizing marijuana in countries and whether policies can prove effective in curbing illicit drug use among adolescents.

Body

Also called weed, pot, ganja, Mary Jane, and herb, marijuana is known by many names depending on regions, countries, and users. Marijuana is a complex plant with over 500 chemicals with different effects. Weed can be smoked or consumed in different ways depending on the requirement. It also comes in a variety of forms i.e, oil, liquid, pills, powder, and dried leaves. The use of marijuana has increased in many countries although many of these countries don’t allow its commercial growth, processing, or selling in retail shops. The rate at which countries are legalizing recreational and medical marijuana is of great concern to organizations like the UN due to the possible consequences. Early use of recreational marijuana can cause altered trajectories of brain maturation later in life (Filbey, McQueeny, DeWitt & Mishra, 2015). Countries like South Africa and many states in the US are enacting medical marijuana laws (MMLs), but it’s yet to be ascertained whether these laws are associated with illicit drug use and misuse of prescription medications among adolescents. Many countries are legalizing marijuana due to its benefits. Medical marijuana is currently a major research area among doctors and scientists due to the so far proven effectiveness of the drug in treating several conditions like pain, seizures, and epilepsy in children. Marijuana benefits are the major aspect considered in legalizing the drug, but there are no substantial studies made on the possible side effects of medical marijuana or even recreational marijuana. From the research point of view, the identification of the benefits of medical marijuana has become a key concern for scientists in the last few decades. The marijuana plant generally consists of about 500 different chemicals known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are compound chemicals capable of interacting with receptors in the brain. The delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid that gets people high and it’s addictive. On the other hand, cannabidiol (CBD) is a type of cannabinoid that has gained popularity due to its power in treating anxiety, autoimmune disorders, seizures, and chronic pain. CBD does not produce psychoactive effects and that’s a reliable fact for those who would love to use the drug for medical purposes. FDA approved cannabidiol Epidiolex in 2018 to treat seizures and severe forms of epilepsy. The agency also approved dronabinol and nabilone (cannabinoid medicines) used to treat nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy.

Individuals need to have a recommendation from a licensed doctor or medical practitioner to access medical marijuana in states or countries where it’s legal. They must also have a condition that qualifies them to use medical marijuana and additional requirements may come into effect depending on the medical marijuana laws of the state. Medical cannabis can be extracted into oil or liquid for patient use and is usually recommended when pain medicines fail to work. Medical marijuana benefits are many and researchers state that the chemical compounds identified in the marijuana plant can at one point be used to manage or treat cancer. To substantiate, some researchers in California discovered that cannabis is good therapy for pain and those in Israel found that nearly half of those who used medical cannabis never had the symptoms of the disease again. Other findings show that many adults with sickle cell disease use cannabis-based products (Curtis et al., 2020). With all that, legalizing medical marijuana can help patients use or try cannabidiol (CBD) to obtain relief, treat ailments, or deal with severe conditions like seizures, and cancer, among others. The medicinal use of marijuana is guaranteed to grow and the latest stats indicate that 50% of CBD consumers increased their consumption since the start of the pandemic.

Contrary, the illegal use of cannabis is globally increasing and the possible consequences of marijuana legalization on a large scale aren’t fully known. Emerging evidence suggests that legalizing marijuana even if it’s for medical purposes may increase marijuana use and cannabis use disorder (Yuan et al., 2019). The use of marijuana is believed to affect the mind and body, especially when it is used for recreational purposes. It’s generally the THC compound, a powerful psychoactive ingredient that stimulates the brain to respond to pleasure i.e sex and food. THC releases dopamine and is associated with a high effect which increases the risk of road accidents, addiction, fetal growth restrictions, and mental health issues. The other concern is the possible surge in public crimes after the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana. The legalization of marijuana may also pose a serious threat to public order and the police's effectiveness in solving crimes. The current studies also indicate inconsistencies in medical marijuana laws, marijuana use, and prohibition. So far, there are a variety of marijuana liberalization policies in several US states and across the globe, however, there are loopholes and inconsistencies which call for reforms. The major concern is the possible long-term clutter of consequences with the fact that more countries globally are considering or contemplating legalizing the drug.

Conclusion

Although the legalization of marijuana is causing a global stir and indeed a public concern, marijuana use has existed for decades and generations among countries. Medical marijuana has proven to offer a range of benefits that provide hope in fighting against chronic diseases and pain. Globally, millions have genuine reasons why medical cannabis should be legalized and research offers intriguing medical marijuana benefits, especially in infants with seizures. With the fact that more countries are legalizing the use of marijuana or the use of medical marijuana, legalizing marijuana for use among adolescents and youths should be one of the main concerns. If you’re a student, we hope our sample essay on why medical marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes offers the insights you need to craft an outstanding essay.

References

Crocker, C., Carter, A., Emsley, J., Magee, K., Atkinson, P., & Tibbo, P. (2021). When Cannabis Use Goes Wrong: Mental Health Side Effects of Cannabis Use That Present to Emergency Services. Frontiers In Psychiatry, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.640222

Curtis, S., Lew, D., Spodick, J., Hendrickson, J., Minniti, C., & Roberts, J. (2020). Medical marijuana certification for patients with sickle cell disease: a report of a single center experience. Blood Advances, 4(16), 3814-3821. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2020002325

Cravanas, B., & Frei, K. (2020). The effects of Cannabis on hallucinations in Parkinson's disease patients. Journal Of The Neurological Sciences, 419, 117206. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jns.2020.117206

Filbey, F., McQueeny, T., DeWitt, S., & Mishra, V. (2015). Preliminary findings demonstrating latent effects of early adolescent marijuana use onset on cortical architecture. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 16, 16-22. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2015.10.001

Yuan, M., Kanellopoulos, T., & Kotbi, N. (2019). Cannabis use and psychiatric illness in the context of medical marijuana legalization: A clinical perspective. General Hospital Psychiatry, 61, 82-83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2019.08.003

Crocker, C., Carter, A., Emsley, J., Magee, K., Atkinson, P., & Tibbo, P. (2021). When Cannabis Use Goes Wrong: Mental Health Side Effects of Cannabis Use That Present to Emergency Services. Frontiers In Psychiatry, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.640222

Rubinstein, M., Rait, M., & Prochaska, J. (2014). Frequent marijuana use is associated with greater nicotine addiction in adolescent smokers. Drug And Alcohol Dependence, 141, 159-162. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.05.015

Reingle, J., Staras, S., Jennings, W., Branchini, J., & Maldonado-Molina, M. (2011). The Relationship Between Marijuana Use and Intimate Partner Violence in a Nationally Representative, Longitudinal Sample. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence, 27(8), 1562-1578. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260511425787