It is very interesting to learn how attitudes have changed about marijuana use since I was a kid. After speaking with local youth in two states (California and Oregon) regarding marijuana use… there is a nonchalant attitude regarding medicinal and recreational use of this natural weed.
The common answers to my questions, “don’t you think marijuana will harm you in any way if you continue to use it?” Or more to the point, “if you keep smoking the stuff, aren’t you afraid of addiction and associated health risks?” Much like laying a bet, are you assured you are not gambling with your future life potential, relationships and health?
The common answers in reply, “Marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes.” “Alcohol unlike marijuana use is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, broken families, job loss etc., where cannabis use does not appear to be the case.” Other common answers I get from adults, “I can quit anytime I want to, it’s not addicting, it’s not a gateway drug and I don’t drink; I choose this drug as my recreational drug or pain management program of choice. ‘I prefer this vice opposed to drinking.”
Others simply state, “For me there are no problems regarding the use of this drug, therefore, no harm to career, health, family or other future endeavors.” Much or our youth and many adults don’t appear to see recreational or medicinal cannabis a harmful substance derived from mother earth. They see man-made pharmaceuticals and other illicit drugs to be worse compared to a natural weed habit or medical use.
It is interesting to note, they mostly compare weed within the same legal recreational drug class as tobacco, spirits, wine and beer. In other words, “on the street,” cannabis use perception is that weed is an acceptable recreational and medicinal drug choice that is a right and should not be outlawed from such use. However, there are risks of potential drug addiction and health problems from smoking marijuana just like any other toxin that needs to be filtered from the body. Such as respiratory and carcinogenic risks from carbon monoxide inhalation.
My sampling of these queries is rather small, around 50 discussions on this topic where 80-90% concede (teenagers and adults), cannabis is probably the least harmful of the illegal drugs. Almost all adults I spoke with acknowledge the medicinal properties and benefits for chronic pain sufferers and cancer patients.
Consumers today are very educated because of the Internet. Allot of the paranoia over this natural weed has been removed from society. Through demographic and cultural studies consumers see how various peoples have used marijuana socially, spiritually and medicinally for thousands of years without any documented deaths caused from an overdose.
I can see the medicinal benefits from scientific studies, however “all” drugs have the potential to addict the user and cause respiratory, or other secondary health and social problems similar to alcohol and tobacco overuse. Science does show in research studies where cannabis can have a negative impact on growing minds and bodies especially if one becomes addicted during the developmental stage of their lives [18 and younger]. This physiological fact alone can destroy a life before it begins. This is why sales and regulatory controls must be put in place once State medicinal and recreational laws are passed.
I felt it was very important to add two addiction articles back in 2009 that support this updated article “Medical Marijuana Use; Part 1 (pain benefits) and “Lay your Bet” 2 (scientific support data) for chronic pain sufferers.” As you read those two earlier articles, there is a very good case to continue THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) research and medicinal benefits.
There is some very good science based around severed or damaged nerve endings where only the THC and other cannabinoid receivers at the nerve endings provide pain relief through cannabis use. Science also shows these damaged nerve endings do not respond to the typical opiate prescription; hence pain alleviation through the pharmaceutical prescription gold standard has little to no effect in many chronic pain controlled studies. Read Part 2, Pain Relief Benefits. Regardless of the medicinal benefits, we must be very vigilant with our children while our states continue to relax marijuana use laws for patients and now recreational use in some states.
I’m in favor of legalized marijuana use for chronic pain sufferers and other ill-health conditions. My concern over Recreational use legalization is controlling the substance distribution on a large commercial scale and keeping it out of the hands of our children. I’m very aware and concerned about our children’s access to marijuana should it become fully legalized for recreational use. This would add an additional drug within hundreds or retail outlets and thousands of households that requires the same protections as prescription drugs, liquor and tobacco.
If and when recreational use of marijuana is approved by voters, it must have similar controls and penalties as our states liquor laws. In preparation for recreational marijuana legalization, parents must not and cannot depend on any school, or government agency to protect children from abusing any drug. It is our responsibility as parents and educators to teach them to know differences between right and wrong and consequences of any form of substance abuse.
As part of this educational messaging, confusion can be mitigated amongst your youth if our federal government fully recognizes states rights per voters approved marijuana use laws and conflict of their drug laws. Regardless of the voter approved marijuana use consumers should not have to fear Federal prosecution because State and Federal laws differ. Our kids and young adults should not be confused over Federal and State rights conflicts where incarceration may occur from an outside agency having no right to interfere with States Voters rights. So long as its use and distribution stays within the legalized States boundaries.
Until DEA controlled substance laws relative to marijuana use become reclassified as less then a scheduled 1 controlled substance or recreational drug use, then cannabis users may be prosecuted over States rights by the FEDs. These legalities must be resolved as cannabis will eventually be legalized in many states for medical marijuana and/or recreational use. To not resolve this State’s right issue can only ruin young lives through unjust incarceration.
Here’s an interesting conflict within our DEA drug schedule classification. THC the psycho active ingredient in marijuana is already legally sold as Marinol & prescribed by HMO medical providers. However, most consumers don’t know this information.
Marinol is listed and classified by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), as a scheduled class III drug under the same physician prescription controls as Tylenol pain relief medication. This is very easy for the patient to get their hands on. So instead of smoking the cannabis, or eating it which is the illegal part, you are legally able to ingest the THC oil [psycho active ingredient] prescribed by most HMO’s for almost any type of pain and/or disease.
Maybe our government within its infinite wisdom determined it would be easier to control marijuana distribution through legal pill prescription so children couldn’t get their hands on it. Since Marinol must be refrigerated, it seems to me, it would be easier for our children to get their hands on these tiny capsules, conceal and consume. So do they really have our children’s best interests in mind?
So it stems to reason, the medical community understands the medicinal use of THC and also enjoys the profits from this high cost prescription drug. If the government was truly concerned about a chronic pain or cancer patient wellbeing the DEA would cooperate with States rights to fully legitimize the use of cannabis for pain patients. They could do this by simply declassifying the DEA drug schedule to list medical marijuana as a Class III prescription similar to Marinol; and remove the fear of a patience medicine being taken away and prosecuted.
Recreational marijuana use on the other hand is a different ball game which requires a different set of rules to protect our children from drug abuse and addiction. If and when medicinal and recreational use in your community occurs, it will be up to all parents to get involved within home town politics and tell elected officials your expectations of how local government will create home town policies to protect our kids from those that don’t want to play by the rules.
Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2015 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.