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Should marijuana be legalized?

  • Yes, it should be legal, period.

    Votes: 17 58.6%
  • It should be legal for medicinal purposes only.

    Votes: 8 27.6%
  • No it shouldn't be legal at all.

    Votes: 4 13.8%

  • Total voters
    29

mshheaddoc

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http://www.boston.com/yourlife/heal...arijuana_as_wonder_drug/?p1=email_to_a_friend

Marijuana as wonder drug

By Lester Grinspoon | March 1, 2007

A NEW STUDY in the journal Neurology is being hailed as unassailable proof that marijuana is a valuable medicine. It is a sad commentary on the state of modern medicine -- and US drug policy -- that we still need "proof" of something that medicine has known for 5,000 years.

The study, from the University of California at San Francisco, found smoked marijuana to be effective at relieving the extreme pain of a debilitating condition known as peripheral neuropathy. It was a study of HIV patients, but a similar type of pain caused by damage to nerves afflicts people with many other illnesses including diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Neuropathic pain is notoriously resistant to treatment with conventional pain drugs. Even powerful and addictive narcotics like morphine and OxyContin often provide little relief. This study leaves no doubt that marijuana can safely ease this type of pain.

As all marijuana research in the United States must be, the new study was conducted with government-supplied marijuana of notoriously poor quality. So it probably underestimated the potential benefit.

This is all good news, but it should not be news at all. In the 40-odd years I have been studying the medicinal uses of marijuana, I have learned that the recorded history of this medicine goes back to ancient times and that in the 19th century it became a well-established Western medicine whose versatility and safety were unquestioned. From 1840 to 1900, American and European medical journals published over 100 papers on the therapeutic uses of marijuana, also known as cannabis.

Of course, our knowledge has advanced greatly over the years. Scientists have identified over 60 unique constituents in marijuana, called cannabinoids, and we have learned much about how they work. We have also learned that our own bodies produce similar chemicals, called endocannabinoids.

The mountain of accumulated anecdotal evidence that pointed the way to the present and other clinical studies also strongly suggests there are a number of other devastating disorders and symptoms for which marijuana has been used for centuries; they deserve the same kind of careful, methodologically sound research. While few such studies have so far been completed, all have lent weight to what medicine already knew but had largely forgotten or ignored: Marijuana is effective at relieving nausea and vomiting, spasticity, appetite loss, certain types of pain, and other debilitating symptoms. And it is extraordinarily safe -- safer than most medicines prescribed every day. If marijuana were a new discovery rather than a well-known substance carrying cultural and political baggage, it would be hailed as a wonder drug.

The pharmaceutical industry is scrambling to isolate cannabinoids and synthesize analogs, and to package them in non-smokable forms. In time, companies will almost certainly come up with products and delivery systems that are more useful and less expensive than herbal marijuana.
However, the analogs they have produced so far are more expensive than herbal marijuana, and none has shown any improvement over the plant nature gave us to take orally or to smoke.

We live in an antismoking environment. But as a method of delivering certain medicinal compounds, smoking marijuana has some real advantages:
The effect is almost instantaneous, allowing the patient, who after all is the best judge, to fine-tune his or her dose to get the needed relief without intoxication. Smoked marijuana has never been demonstrated to have serious pulmonary consequences, but in any case the technology to inhale these cannabinoids without smoking marijuana already exists as vaporizers that allow for smoke-free inhalation.

Hopefully the UCSF study will add to the pressure on the US government to rethink its irrational ban on the medicinal use of marijuana -- and its destructive attacks on patients and caregivers in states that have chosen to allow such use. Rather than admit they have been mistaken all these years, federal officials can cite "important new data" and start revamping outdated and destructive policies. The new Congress could go far in establishing its bona fides as both reasonable and compassionate by immediately moving on this issue.

Such legislation would bring much-needed relief to millions of Americans suffering from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and other debilitating illnesses.

Lester Grinspoon, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is the coauthor of "Marijuana, the Forbidden Medicine."
 

McDoctor

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I think it should be legal, and at the same time highly regulated and taxable. But I think the potential medical benefits are overstated, which is probably also a byproduct of it being illegal. I'm sure there are some palliative benefits for cancer patients (or any debilitating terminal illness for that matter) in regards to pain relief and appetite stimulation, but probably not much better than what is already available in the form of opioids and THC derivatives currently on the market. The overhyped claims that it is useful for hundreds of medical conditions smacks of snake oil pseudoscience.

It definitely should not be legalized only for medical use. That will just create a booming complementary and alternative medicine snake oil industry and would be a potential public health disaster. I can already see the licensed marijuana practitioners proclaiming this "new" wonder drug to be a cure all for everything from high blood pressure to bipolar disorder, at the expense of proven medical therapy.

The possible medical benefits alone do not support legalization. Overcrowded prisons and a booming black market economy that may or may not be a significant contributor to the illegal immigration problem, on the other hand, makes a compelling case for legalization.
 

Faebinder

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Legal for medicinal use as pills..... sure.

Legalize for smoking and recreational uses? Gimme a break. I am sure once we got some serious pill forms... we will see patients with high doses and then prove some of the side effects but sheesh people are looking for any excuse to get high now a days. My worry is, will we start seeing an increase in crimes with the excuse that the marijuanna made them do it.
 
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McDoctor

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Legal for medicinal use as pills..... sure.

Legalize for smoking and recreational uses? Gimme a break. I am sure once we got some serious pill forms... we will see patients with high doses and then prove some of the side effects but sheesh people are looking for any excuse to get high now a days. My worry is, will we start seeing an increase in crimes with the excuse that the marijuanna made them do it.

The notion that marijuana use leads to criminal behavior is time honored propaganda, dating way back to the film Reefer Madness. But there is no real evidence of this.

I'm not convinced there are a whole lot of useful medicinal properties. THC already exists in a pill form, and its mostly useful as an anti-emetic. It is far from the wonder-drug that you would be led to believe from the pro-marijuana crowd.

If you were going to legalize the drug, then it should just be allowed to be used as recreation. Otherwise, it just becomes overprescribed by fringe medical providers for a wide gamut of ailments, at the expense of mainstream medical care, and probably just gets diverted by most patients for recreational purposes anyway.
 

bananaface

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Legal for medicinal use as pills..... sure.

Legalize for smoking and recreational uses? Gimme a break. I am sure once we got some serious pill forms... we will see patients with high doses and then prove some of the side effects but sheesh people are looking for any excuse to get high now a days. My worry is, will we start seeing an increase in crimes with the excuse that the marijuanna made them do it.
I don't think we are getting anything but crappy Marinol. Maybe sometime someone will make a nebulizer solution.
 
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Dr_Feelgood

I all for letting people hang out with a relaxing Phish CD on the stereo eating pizza and mustard, and I don't care if they need it for medicinal purposes.

But I wonder how effective Mary Jane is compared to Cymbalta or Lyrica? There is little reason to approve the use if it has equal efficacy.
 

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Legal for medicinal use as pills..... sure.

Legalize for smoking and recreational uses? Gimme a break. I am sure once we got some serious pill forms... we will see patients with high doses and then prove some of the side effects but sheesh people are looking for any excuse to get high now a days. My worry is, will we start seeing an increase in crimes with the excuse that the marijuanna made them do it.

It already is available in pill form. The truth is that there are much better drugs available for medicinal use - atavan, zofran, morphine.
 

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When discuss legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes it would be helpful to study societies - both contemporary and historical - in which addictive drugs are/were legalized and part of the culture. Two that come to mind are China during the height of the Opium Crisis, and qat in Yemen and Ethiopia. In both cases, nothing positive, but a lot of negative, came from allowing the widespread use of addictive drugs.
 

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Legal for medicinal use as pills..... sure.

Legalize for smoking and recreational uses? Gimme a break. I am sure once we got some serious pill forms... we will see patients with high doses and then prove some of the side effects but sheesh people are looking for any excuse to get high now a days. My worry is, will we start seeing an increase in crimes with the excuse that the marijuanna made them do it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marinol
 

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Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes seems of dubious value in my opinion. I think it is largely a ploy by folks trying to get it legalized for other purposes.

That being said, I support the right of others to ingest such substances as they please in their own pursuit of happiness and abhor the injustices wrought by the so called "war on drugs".

However, claiming mj is medicine as a rationale for its legalization, while a pragmatic approach to its legalization, invites further government interference in the future and avoids the real ethical meat of the issue.
 

sdn1977

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I was a pharmacist at a study site in the 80's in SF using both thc cigarrettes & capsules. We were only one & had just a few pts at our site - less than 300. The criteria was intractable pain &/or nausea - the etiology was not important.

The thc cigarrettes did nothing to our population & there was some small increase in pain relief with the capsules.

When the final study was released, there is a very small improvement in pain which is one of the studies which was used to get Marinol approved.

As a previous poster pointed out, the current product (Marinol) is not very good at relieving pain or nausea.

I don't think we've yet found out what it is within the cigarrettes that is the actual active ingredient (there are many cannabinoids) & we definitely know the oral route is next to worthless.

I think we'd benefit from more studies since it would shed more light on the pathways these symptoms use to get the brain to make the pt feel the way they do. Likewise, it would give more understanding to what is actually in the product & which pathway its using because its not just thc within the blood.

As for legalizing it - like allowing purchase like acetaminophen or (god-forbid) pseudoephedrine??? Eeehh - not there yet, I don't think. But, as long as we have politicians who feel pseudoephedrine needs to be documented & followed (by whom is anyone's guess & for what purpose!!!) we won't see legalization anytime soon. Moot point!
 

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As for legalizing it - like allowing purchase like acetaminophen or (god-forbid) pseudoephedrine??? Eeehh - not there yet, I don't think. But, as long as we have politicians who feel pseudoephedrine needs to be documented & followed (by whom is anyone's guess & for what purpose!!!) we won't see legalization anytime soon. Moot point!

Something of a tangent, but I just bought my first pseudoephedrine since those laws were passed and I was quite surprised. There's more paperwork for buying sudafed than I went through picking up lortabs after my wisdom teeth.

Seems kinda backwards.
 

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I vote for legalizing marijuana and making alcohol illegal!

I mean, come on. The US government doesn't necessarily give a rat's *** about safety. We've known how bad smoking is for you easily since WWII with all the studies done in Germany and we've known for ages about the effects of alcohol. The difference is alcohol pervades every aspect of our culture (like how a fine wine is considered a delicacy) while these other drugs hadn't yet.

Part of the problem today is marijuana is perceived as the icon of the drugged up and high, hippy, devil-may-care attitudes of many and so goes against most people's natures to accept it.

If prohibition had worked, can you possibly imagine how hard it would be to justify legalizing alcohol? Really, how many ways can you justify legalizing alcohol? How many ways can you justify legalizing cigarettes (though they don't cause the same immediate high)? Legalization of something ought to be taken within the context of risks and benefits and a threshold that is in part based on our current accepted threshold for risks versus benefits in accepting something as legal. I think based on this, the benefits of making marijuana legal far outweigh the risks in comparison with many many other pharmaceutical products, alcohol, and OTC products that can have the potential to make somebody wacky/sleepy. Not only that, I am not convinced that the long-term impact of smoking *pure* marijuana exceeds that of cigarettes.
 

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Something of a tangent, but I just bought my first pseudoephedrine since those laws were passed and I was quite surprised. There's more paperwork for buying sudafed than I went through picking up lortabs after my wisdom teeth.

Seems kinda backwards.

Yeah - lets not get off topic here - but, geez - you can thank your President & his Patriot Act for this inane legislation which causes me no end of headache, generates endless paper (which no one looks at) & I'm sure employs multiple new government employees to keep us all safe from drug diversion (now you can take about a waste of money!)

btw...it takes 1 pound (16 oz!!!!) of pseudoephedrine to generate approx 0.75 pounds of methamphetamine. Now....just think about how many tablets 16 oz of pseudoephedrine is (you can't count the box!). Its a lot!!!

In my experience....nothing has changed. We see the same faces on the "buyers" - they now just have ID & I sure as h*ll am not going to confront someone who might have fake ID! I could care less about my pseudoephedrine when I've got about 10 bottles of all the different strengths of oxycodone ER, not counting my ms, fentanyl or dilaudid - I just don't want to get killed & definitely not over pseudoephedrine!
 
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