You might not believe this in 2018, I am not sure I do, but marijuana is a class 1 controlled substance which makes it illegal under federal law. The reasoning behind the classification is that it has no accepted medical use and a lack of acceptable safety.
The dichotomy between its medical use and its recreational use
For people with a chronic condition, marijuana is a painkiller and it can reduce anxiety. Anyone who has witnessed the effects of an anti-anxiety medication for a terminally ill person will attest to their essential nature.
One of the arguments against it concerns its addictive qualities, its use as a stepping stone (or gateway drug) to other more serious controlled substances and also the arguments that it does have some long-term effects.
We can acknowledge recreational use is problematic. Too many children have tried it, too many people do become addicted. But then oxycodone addictions are in excess of 200,000 new cases per year and that is a Class 2 drug.
The new user argument
This is a logical fallacy. The argument goes allowing people who have never used it recreationally to use it when they become sick will create a new class of addict that we did not have before. But then the same argument applies to pain-killers which we see that as acceptable, even though there are communities which are devastated through painkiller addictions. At least a society of pot-heads is a commune.
The evidence is there, but…
Frequent marijuana has side effects there is no doubt. Short-term memory takes a hit, cognitive ability will too. It has been implicated in motor accidents and workplace accidents too. But then we take cold medicines that give us ‘medicine head’.
Of course, no one is counting how many come to work on cold medicine and have an accident.
Is it a lesser of known evils?
The arguments for marijuana in a medical context include its ability to reduce nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. It is connected to the relief of spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients, it can renew appetite in HIV/AIDS and some cancer patients. It is a pain reliever. It does not have to be smoked either, because yes, we all agree smoking is bad for you.
Is availability the issue?
Perhaps the key to the marijuana debate is its availability. You can grow it, so can I (except that it is illegal to, so we don’t). It doesn’t need to be synthesized and it doesn’t need to be produced by a major pharmaceutical company who then make an outrageous fortune from it. Nor do you need a degree in chemistry – a green thumb is all you need, well, that and discreet neighbors.
Ultimately if sufferers of chronic conditions can be helped by marijuana and the reason we as a society have not made it available comes down to money, we show ourselves to be seriously lacking as a compassionate first world society.