The most obvious advantage to medical marijuana is that by legalizing it, marijuana related arrests would be eliminated if related to medical use through prescription. If medical marijuana was also taxed, it becomes a source of revenue for the United States government, which would decrease the tax burden on the people. Actually that’s more of if all marijuana was legalized and regulated, not just medical marijuana, though the principle is similar.
Medical marijuana in its current use is to relieve extreme pain from chronic or fatal illnesses such as AIDS or cancer, particularly as relief from chemotherapy, which weakens the body and can cause pain on its own, as well as increasing appetite, which chemotherapy affects and can weaken the body through vitamin deficiency and muscle loss (Scannel 2003.). So rather than risk arrest, these people would be freely able to use medical marijuana without worrying about legal ramifications.
Currently there is a federal ban on marijuana, regardless of use, despite local or state laws that allow its use either medically or recreationally, making its use a federal crime in the country regardless of where it is used or why, barring few exceptions.
Most physicians agree that medical marijuana is safer than other powerful pain relief drugs and less expensive (Grinspoon 2003). There is controversy though on how safe marijuana is, noting its complex nature of several hundred chemicals and possible side-effects of its use (US DEA 2006). There is also the downside that to ingest medical marijuana is to smoke it or inhale its smoke, and that brings some of the risks that come with smoking cigarettes, i.e., lung cancer, lower lung capacity, higher susceptibility to smoke causing lung irritation, and the like (Benson 1999). For this reason some physicians do not recommend medical marijuana because of smoking related problems. Some of the chemicals in cigarette smoke are shared with marijuana smoke, which brings the aforementioned risks stated with it (1999).
Some physicians note that there are prescription drugs more powerful, more dangerous, and also more fatal than marijuana, and thus it is safer than these drugs, but it appears lack of legality has affected research in this area, as some doctors note too many variables (Fry 2006).
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