The medical marijuana debate has been an ongoing discussion for years as there are many opinions that oppose each other.
The extract of Cannabis sativa (marijuana) was once one of the most highly prescribed medicines in the United States — until its prohibition in 1937. After becoming illegal, the use of the drug for medicinal purposes became restricted, however, in recent years, when some states decided to legalise smoked marijuana for individual patients, medical marijuana became a subject of contentious debate.
On the one hand, The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug and considers it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
Schedule 1 drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and meth and are considered to be dangerous drugs because they’re highly addictive and may cause “severe psychological or physical dependence”.
On the other hand, despite its stigma, many people believe that marijuana has high value as a medicinal herb for treating various conditions. Marijuana can relieve many types of chronic pain, nausea, and vomiting from any number of ailments.
It is argued that many people suffering from terminal illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, and AIDS could benefit from consuming marijuana and should have the right to do so if desired.
Some argue that marijuana’s classification under the Controlled Substances Act should be changed by Congress. If marijuana were no longer a Schedule 1 drug, its medicinal benefits could be recognised legally, relieving the suffering of thousands of terminally ill patients.
However, on the other hand, if medical marijuana were legalised, there could be repercussions outside the realm of medicine, leading teens to believe that marijuana is safe for recreational use and increasing the availability of the drug.
In September 2018, South Africa’s Constitutional Court legalised the use of cannabis in private for personal consumption, allowing adult citizens to grow, possess, and use the drug for personal recreational or medicinal use.
While South Africa may be ahead of the curve when it comes to the legal use marijuana, the ongoing debate on the pros and cons of this drug and whether it should be legalised to allow for medicinal use is a controversy that is likely to continue in the United States and around the world for decades to come.