March 31, the date when there will be a change in Canadian medical marijuana enforcement is fast approaching and the debate over the effectiveness of medical cannabis rages. Is medical marijuana really an effective form of treatment for various diseases? CBC quotes a study published in Arthritis Care and Research saying there is not enough research to promote the use of cannabis for patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. And so we ask, is cannabis a worthwhile investment for patients suffering from particular diseases or are there more effective remedies?
Cannabis is actually found to be the cause of some diseases such as schizophrenia. According to Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, MD, a consultant in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at the Mayo Clinic, marijuana may trigger breaks in reality in some people. His study also concluded that marijuana increased levels of depression in users but was not the underlying cause.
Should depression and other symptoms be looked at as side-effects of medical cannabis? Most prescribed drugs have side effects such as fatigue, suicidal thoughts, etc. Is this then a negligible risk? Furthermore, certain medications are not always advisable for use with some conditions. Marijuana is not a magical cure. This is one alternative form of treatment that may be useful for some individuals.
It is however, concerning that cannabis can cause schizophrenia and that this association is not well understood. Moreover, there are other mental illnesses in which the suspected cause is marijuana; depersonalization disorder is one of them. In a study found on APA Pysch Net, researchers found that the most common precipitants of the disorder included marijuana ingestion. If the Canadian government does as they have in Colorado will they find an increase in cases of mental illness? This should be studied closely as mental illness is on the rise. And the question remains, is medical cannabis an effective treatment?
Another study found in Neurology surveyed 220 patients with MS who said that medical cannabis most commonly relieved symptoms of stress, sleep, mood, stiffness/spasm, and pain. This suggests that indeed cannabis, in this context, is an effective treatment. Medical Marijuana has also been used with cancer and AIDS patients. Sometimes as a deterrent against the nausea associated with chemotherapy.
Medical cannabis can be ingested in several different ways, including eating extracts, vaporizing or smoking dried buds, and taking capsules. Therefore, if a patient does not desire to suffer the harmful effects of smoking, there are viable alternatives. This debate is truly a difficult one to solve. On one hand, there are proven alternatives that can cure certain aspects of some conditions and on the other, this drug is associated with laziness, gluttony and can cause serious psychological disorders that are life-long.
It might be beneficial in this case to do a pro and con list. What are the pros of medicinal marijuana use and what are the cons? Are there more pros than cons? The list should be exhaustive and those that make it up should be qualified doctors who have experience with this type of treatment.
The use of medical cannabis is very complex and should be studied further before any governing body recommends it to the general population. This is a potentially dangerous substance that shouldn’t be used lightly. So before taking a toke, be sure to do the research.
Opinion by: Nicole Drawc