Cannabis, commonly known as marijuana is a generic term used to denote several psychoactive preparations of the plant Cannabis sativa. Cannabis is the most widely cultivated, trafficked and abused illicit drug. According to WHO it is responsible for half of the drug seizures worldwide with 147 million users i.e.2.5% of world population. It is huge compared to 0.2% users each of cocaine and opiates. While many argue that like other illegal drugs it too should be banned, the supporters of Cannabis legalization advocate the medical use of the psychoactive drug along with the billions of dollars of tax revenue it may lead to. As per a survey by CNN, the supporters of the legalization of marijuana have increased from 16% in 1990 to 55% in 2014 in the United States.
Contrary to the popular belief, many experts say that marijuana is addictive. Dr. Drew Pinsky who has been working with addicts for decades says that it would be malpractice to say cannabis isn’t addictive and people don’t understand how tough it is to quit. Estimates from research suggests that 9 percent of users become addicted, this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent. Long term marijuana users trying to quit report withdrawal symptoms including irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety and drug craving all of it make it difficult to abstain .The other side effects of the drug include impaired short term memory, reddening of eyes, increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, increased appetite and dry mouth .The drug is also reported to act as a irritant to lung, cause temporary psychotic reactions (involving hallucinations and paranoia). Though more research is still needed to better understanding of the linkages, a close relation is practically observed between marijuana use and depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts among adolescents, and personality disturbances including lack of motivation to engage in typically rewarding activities. People strongly argue that its terrible for your mental health. A supporting evidence to this was a research conducted in 2014 which suggests that marijuana users have five points lower IQ level than non users.
No matter how many side effects it has, the use of marijuana in medicine is the fact that no one can underestimate. The two chemicals in the marijuana: Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are of great medicinal use .Marijuana when smoked reduces the intraocular pressure(IOP) used in treatment of glaucoma preventing blindness. According to a study published in Journal of the American Medical Association in January 2012, marijuana does not impair lung function and can even increase lung capacity. CBD may help prevent cancer from spreading, researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco reported in 2007.Marijuana can also cause reduced spreading of cancer, reduces pain in multiple sclerosis, treats inflammatory bowel diseases and improves the symptoms of Lupus, an autoimmune disease. The drug can also slow down progression of Alzheimer disease and soothes tremors for people with Parkinson’s disease. The supporters of marijuana also argue that it can keep you skinny and improve your metabolism.
In overdose THC is relatively safe, producing drowsiness but not life threatening cardiovascular and respiratory depression. In this respect, it is safer than most abused substances, particularly opiates and ethanol. It is still a controversial topic whether cannabis should be classified as addictive (Fattore et al.,2008 and reviews by Maldonado & Rodriguez de Fonseca,2002 ;Taber and Hurley,2009).Tolerance to cannabis and physical dependence occur only up to minor degree and mainly in heavy users. Disorders like alcoholism involve disruptions in the endocannabinoid system. Because of that, some people think cannabis might help patients struggling with those disorders.
Cannabis has subject to legal restriction in many countries since the 20th century. Uruguay was the first country to legalize the sale, cultivation and distribution of cannabis. Countries like Netherlands, Jamaica and states of America like Oregon, Alaska and Washington have legalized cannabis and seemed to do fine pulling millions of dollars in tax revenue. In east and Southeast Asia simple possession can carry long jail sentences and sale may lead to life imprisonment or even execution. In case of Nepal it is illegal but often unenforced. One of the major reasons for it may be the use of cannabis in religious rituals in Nepal.
Most of the things has good and bad aspects. On the one hand, we cannot discard the medicinal use of cannabis and the possibility that legalization would eliminate illegal trade and associated crime earning millions in tax revenue. While on the other hand we still cannot underestimate the misuse of the drug and and its potentiality to get addictive. Moderation in medicinal use and strict restriction in recreational use might be the best alternative.
- A.Kim (2015),Medical Marijuana:Benefits,Risks & State Laws A.Randy (2014),23
- Health benefits of Marijuana,Businessinsider.com(online), Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/health-benefits-of-medical-marijuana-2014-4?op=1
- DrugFacts: Marijuana ,National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) M.Jeffrey (2014)
- Marijuana should be federally legal,CNN,19th November Rang and Dale (2012).
- Rang and Dale’s Pharmacology. 7th ed. London: Elsevier. p221-227.