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Should marijuana be prescribed as a painkiller?

Blakely Naylor, Editor

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The FDA requires several tests done on several human subjects before they will pass a medicine. This is to be sure that the drug will help more people than it will harm. While there are a few medicines that have already been passed that contain parts of the cannabis plant there aren’t enough successes of medicinal treatments that come directly from the plant for the street drug to be legalized as a pharmaceutical addition.

Marijuana works with chemicals already within your body to reduce pain, inflammation and other symptoms similar to these. In states where it’s been legalized, doctors usually prescribe it to patients who have cancer, glaucoma or some other severe nerve pain. Medically, it’s used as a drug similar to aspirin but it reduces pain more effectively.

While there are many good things about marijuana and what it can do to help reduce pain, there are also many dangerous side effects. Marijuana works by fusing to receptors in your brain and causing the feeling of being “high” so you feel happy or fatigued. This drug binding to the cells in your brain can cause memory loss or other neural abnormalities. Marijuana is also a leading suspect in cases of bronchitis and other lung diseases. While these effects usually only happen to subjects who take high dosages of marijuana over long periods of time, there’s still many possible side effects, such as sterility and lung deficiencies, for those who take a lower dosage.

Jenny Greenland, a longtime receptionist at Cottonwood Pediatrics, asked, “What is the difference between using marijuana as a painkiller and using aspirin?”

This is a fairly common question, and most people you argue marijuana’s medicinal values don’t know the answer. One of the main differences is cost: aspirin is cheap. While they have different side effects, aspirin can be just as harmful as THC, one of the main chemicals in marijuana. Aspirin can cause mental and physical damage just like marijuana. But there is less of a chance of this happening due to the fact that aspirin works within the cells of the inflicted area by stopping the signals sent to your brain to inform it of pain while marijuana directly affects the brain and its functions. That’s why it’s easier to get high off of marijuana than aspirin.

So why is this such a controversial subject? It’s similar aspirin, so why can’t the medicinal use of marijuana be passed as long as it’s used in low dosages? The problem lies in one subject no one can control: marijuana is highly addictive. According to drugabuse.org and brown.edu, 25-50% of daily users become addicted. While it would be prescribed in small dosages it’s usually most effective in three puffs a day. Thus, unintentionally providing the patient with a fairly high risk of becoming addicted.

Marijuana is also one of the few drugs that causes abnormal cell division. According to drugfreeworld.com the THC in just the smoke itself is 50% – 70% more cancerous than tobacco. Not only could this abnormal cell division affect the person taking the drug, it will most likely affect their ability to have children and the children that they do have especially in males.

Despite the fight against it, most of the US has in some ways approved the use of medicinal marijuana. States like Utah have laws that are unclear toward prescribing medicines using the plant, but allow it within their medical field under special circumstances. Texas allows its usage, but only within it’s medical field. Colorado allows the usage of marijuana, whether recreational or medical.

Despite the increase of states allowing marijuana into their medicinal practices, the cost to buy it hasn’t gone down by much. It’s less expensive to buy it for medical purposes rather than recreational ones but it’s still too expensive for most families to afford. It ranges between $20-$60 for an eighth of an ounce. That doesn’t sound too bad but depending on the severity of the pain the dosage prescribed could range between .01 grams to 3.69 grams a day.

Health insurance companies do nothing to help cover the heavy expenses since the medications aren’t FDA approved. There are lawsuits and fights against the codes that discount marijuana as an effective medication. Overwhelming evidence consistently proves it as an efficient painkiller. Yet, no one has been able to find a loophole big enough to reform insurance policies. Since it’s left unrecognized by insurance, a lot of people who could really benefit through marijuana’s efficiency are left with traditional drugs as their only source of relief.

Researchers do not yet know just how severe the consequences of marijuana are, especially on developing brains. Due to the overwhelming evidence toward marijuana’s medicinal value, a huge push has been started so we can learn more about this drug that could potentially lead to either better cures or have side effects that make it more harmful than helpful.

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Should marijuana be prescribed as a painkiller?