CANNABIS CULTURE – At best, it’s a tragic blunder that cannabis is listed as a Schedule I drug. The DEA labels a Schedule I drug as having a high potential for abuse. When cannabis’s lack of actual physical dependency is compared to the likelihood of addiction posed by drugs such as OxyContin (Schedule II) and Xanax (Schedule IV), the numbers stack up in favor of cannabis every time.
The second provision for a drug to meet Schedule I standards is that the substance has no “accepted medical use.” As we all know, this is wildly untrue. Many states that have legalized medicinal cannabis are already seeing tremendous improvements for patients with debilitating medical issues such as epilepsy and cancer. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of cannabis that our laws have kept from us for so long.
Where Are We at Today?
After many years of activists debunking myths about cannabis and legalization making it onto state ballots, medical cannabis is now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia. There are varying limits and restrictions on the amount that can be used, possessed or grown, among other factors.
A prescription from a doctor is needed, and the cannabis must be purchased at a licensed facility. Among those twenty-eight states, five have legalized cannabis for recreational use.
The Benefits of Cannabis and the Fight Against It
Now that cannabis is legal in some states, doctors and patients are free to discover its medicinal uses. Big Pharma and even alcohol companies have fought ballot proposals legalizing cannabis because they feel it may cut into their business. Again, it’s all about money and not about what is good for the people. People who drink beer aren’t going to quit in order to just smoke cannabis. And if we’re being honest, people who want cannabis have probably been smoking it for years, regardless of the law.
People who use cannabis as a medication, on the other hand, may actually want to substitute cannabis for the expensive and addictive chemicals they have had to depend upon for so long.
Some of the medical community seems willing to use cannabis along with prescription drugs, but they are not willing to substitute cannabis for treatment. In all fairness, there may not be enough research yet. However, there have been studies and treatments that have produced positive results in the practice of medicine. There are quite a few ways cannabis could be used as a substitute or in conjunction with traditional drugs.
Pain Relief With Medical Cannabis
Cannabis treats chronic pain without the risk of addiction that can come from using opioid drugs. Cancer patients enduring the side effects of chemotherapy have found relief through cannabis use. Cannabis relieves nausea and therefore prevents vomiting. Its use also stimulates the appetite in patients who have difficulty getting food down.
Treating Opioid Addiction Through Medical Cannabis
Opioid addiction is a nationwide epidemic. One might find it odd, but cannabis can treat opioid addiction. For so long, the drug methadone has been used to ease the withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction. But it, too, is an opioid. Using methadone can help, but it can also cause further addiction, dependence and overdose.
Plus, to use methadone, you must be admitted to a methadone clinic. Cannabis is not addictive. It helps treat the withdrawal symptoms and make the patient more comfortable and more focused on recovery. More than 75 percent of patients who used it for one month were able to taper off of their opiates. States that have allowed medical cannabis to be used this way have seen a drop in opioid overdoses.
Treating Glaucoma With Medical Cannabis
Glaucoma causes an increase in pressure on the eyeballs and can be extremely uncomfortable. Prolonged suffering can result in permanent damage to the optic nerve and loss of sight. Cannabis decreases the internal eye pressure both in people with glaucoma and without. Since cannabis use can reduce the pressure, it can prevent blindness or prolong time before going blind.
Thwarting Alzheimer’s Disease Using Medical Cannabis
The active chemical in cannabis, Tetrahydrocannabinol, may be able to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. THC slows down the formation of plaques in the brain by blocking the enzymes that form them. The plaques destroy brain cells and result in irreversible damage. Cannabis can at least slow this process down while scientists continue researching this issue.
So why does anyone still argue that cannabis belongs on the Schedule I list? We already use many potent drugs with horrible side effects to treat a variety of conditions. Why are we keeping cannabis out of the fight against so many ailments for which it could be a benefit?
Cannabis could work side by side with pharmaceuticals, or it could be substituted for them. We won’t know for sure unless we are willing to acknowledge its positive qualities and embrace cannabis in the medical community.
We’ve probably all come face-to-face with the cannabis stigma at least once. So many doctors still have a knee-jerk reaction to prescribe an approved painkiller or antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. The very mention of cannabis use will send many of these same doctors into a lengthy explanation of why patients shouldn’t be partaking in its use, and why this drug or that drug is so much safer.
Yet, the number don’t add up to say the same. There are no recorded deaths that directly resulted from the ingestion of a cannabis product. How many people will overdose on painkillers, or commit suicide after starting a new antidepressant, before we start to realize that there are safer alternatives out there?
The federal government needs to remove cannabis’s Schedule I classification and legalize it nationally so it can be used more widely in research. Haven’t we fought against and maligned cannabis long enough?