Written by attorney Jesse Hall
“Medicinal marijuana” (commonly referred to as “medical marijuana”) refers to the use of the cannabis plant as a physician-recommended medicine or herbal therapy. Cannabis (or marijuana) was widely used as a pain reliever throughout the West world up until the point aspirin was created. The United States then banned the use of cannabis through a series of federal laws and tax regulations.
Treatments and Uses of Medical Marijuana
Marijuana has a lengthy history of medical use. Some source claim evidence as far back as 2000 BCE. The medical use of cannabis (marijuana) maintains multiple documented benefits. Some of it documented effects include such things as reducing nausea and vomiting, combating unintentional weight law, creating hunger for patients undergoing chemotherapy or who have been diagnosed with AIDS, treating premenstrual syndrome, reducing eye pressure for glaucoma patients, assisting asthma patients and patients with movement disorders, and vigorously working as a safe and natural pain reliever.
Medicinal marijuana is also linked to reducing the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) and effectively limiting clinical depression and other anxiety. Additionally, there are early findings indicating medical marijuana would assist victims of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, fibromyalgia, migraines, spinal cord injuries, Tourette syndrome and other behavioral conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorders. Also, it has been found to combat breast cancer in women by keeping it from spreading throughout the body, and it has been found to kill cancerous brain cells in people with tumors (while leaving the healthy brain cells unharmed).
Finally, medicinal uses of marijuana have been linked to successfully treating alcohol addiction, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, collagen induced arthritis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, digestive diseases, hepatitis C, Huntington’s disease, leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, morning sickness, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep apnea, and even limiting the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Medical dosages come in a variety of ways. Some of the most common methods include vaporizing dried buds, orally consuming cannabis extracts mixed into other food or drinks, or eating marijuana capsules (much like a multivitamin). Ingesting marijuana in a decarboxylated state is one of the most common forms of human consumption because it is a safe alternative to the more primitive form of ingestion – namely smoking dry marijuana buds, which involve typical physical health risks associated with smoking anything. However, there are of course certain patients how still chose smoking marijuana as their primary means of ingestion – this is often due to the fact that these patients are either terminally ill or have debilitating symptoms, and thus the long-term risks associated with smoking hardly alarm them.
Presently, a number of countries worldwide maintain laws that either protect a person’s right to use medical marijuana or otherwise do not sanction marijuana for such a use. Some of these countries include Canada, Israel, Germany, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, Finland, Portugal, etc. The United States of course continues to proscribe marijuana for any use through federal law – including while under the medical care and direction of a medical doctor. Nonetheless, many states have legalized the use of (and even constitutionalized the right to) medical marijuana. Presently, there are thirteen states that have enacted laws legalizing the possession, use, growth, dispensing, and/or sale of medicinal marijuana. In 1996 Arizona legalized the act of a doctor prescribing medical marijuana, and in 2003 Maryland allowed the “medical use” defense to be argued in court.
Lastly, a number of municipalities and local governments have completely legalized the use and possession of marijuana (including for simple recreational purposes) when confined to small amounts. For example, in 2005 the city of Denver, Colorado allowed adults who are 21 years or older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana without penalty by city ordinance. Clearly there still existed state laws forbidding this, but the law passage was clearly a message to the legislators of Colorado about how their constituents feel about the issue of marijuana use by anyone.
It is worth noting that there appears to be a clear trend to decriminalize the use of marijuana, and this is evidenced by the fact that many states have completely decriminalized the possession and/or sale of “small amounts” of marijuana (like in Minnesota), but instead seek to administratively fine a person – rather than criminally convicting and incarcerate them.
Along with this, cities like Denver, Seattle, Oakland, and others have passed local ordinances making the enforcement of marijuana laws “the lowest priority for law enforcement” within those jurisdictions. Again, constituents across the country are telling their local political and other governmental officials how they feel about the prohibition on marijuana – they don’t like it, and they certainly don’t want to waste scarce tax dollars on punishing people who chose to use marijuana (especially if they are doing so under the direction of their medical doctors).