The use of cannabis for medicinal purposes has evolved considerably since 1996 when California passed Proposition 215, which allows the practice. Currently, Guam and Puerto Rico, the District of Colombia, and twenty-nine other states have legalized the use of medicinal marijuana. The growth of cannabis use for medicinal purposes has been slow due to minimal research in the field occasioned by stringent rules governing the access and usage of marijuana. Nevertheless, this trend is changing with Americans engaging in a healthy discourse on the way forward concerning the medicinal value of marijuana and its usage.
At the heart of the usage of medicinal cannabis are divided opinions of stakeholders either opposing or supporting the debate. The supporting side falls under the Marijuana Majority, which appreciates the health benefits of cannabis. On the other side, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) forms the opposing side by noting the devastating use of cannabis for whatever reasons. Each side has numerous supporters ranging from high-profile public figures to the ordinary citizens. For instance, senators Cory Booker (NJ), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Dona Rohrabacher (CA), and Jeff Merkley (OR) have all worked tirelessly to ensure the legalization of medicinal marijuana. However, different advocacy groups like Drug-Free American, Save Our Society from Drugs, and Police Unions have reiterated the negative effects that the legalization of medicinal cannabis would have on society in the long term (Monte, Zane, & Heard, 2015).
However, the sharp divisions and controversies surrounding the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes could be settled through scientific research on the subject. As mentioned earlier, any significant progress in medical research on this subject has been hampered due to the strict laws governing the access and usage of marijuana. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2017) released a report with different conclusions on the usage of medicinal cannabis. It emerged that cannabis is an effective chronic pain reliever and a powerful antiemetic. However, the report showed that marijuana does not have significant medicinal value in the management of HIV/AIDS, Tourette syndrome, anxiety disorders, traumatic brain injury, dementia, and depression (The National Academics of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, 2017). The report also highlighted several negative effects of marijuana use. Therefore, the usage of medicinal cannabis should be employed with caution to optimize its benefits and reduce its adverse effects.
The current prescribed rate of cannabis has significant implications on policy, legal, and future practice. Legally, medicinal marijuana is illegal under federal law (Wilkinson, Yarnell, Radhakrishnan, Ball, & D’Souza, 2016). However, the US government may be compelled to reconsider this stance if there is enough evidence to underscore the health benefits of the drug. The continued usage of the drug in 29 states implies that there will be enough data to work on as researchers continue to test the value of cannabis as a medicinal drug. Future practice will depend mainly on the laws and policies governing the usage of marijuana. Importantly, there is a compelling need to lessen the laws governing the access and usage of marijuana for research purposes.
The long history of medicinal cannabis is taking shape in contemporary American society. Currently, at least 29 states approve the use of medicinal marijuana, which is a step in the right direction. The raging debate surrounding this topic cannot be resolved without sufficient research findings on the effects of using marijuana for medicinal purposes. Moving forward, policymakers should rethink the stringent laws governing the access of cannabis for research. The future of medical practice regarding the usage of cannabis for treatment will solely depend on laws and policies governing the subject.
Monte, A., Zane, D., & Heard, K. (2015). The implications of marijuana legalization in Colorado. Journal of the American Medical Association, 313(3), 241-242.
The National Academics of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: The current state of evidence and recommendations for research. Web.
Wilkinson, S., Yarnell, S., Radhakrishnan, R., Ball, S., & D’Souza, C. (2016). Marijuana legalization: Impact on physicians and public health. Annual Review of Medicine, 67, 453-466.