Medical Marijuana: A Double-Edged Sword – Complementary&Alternative Therapies Example

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"Medical Marijuana: A Double-Edged Sword" is a decent example of a paper on complementary and alternative therapies. One of the aspects of current drug policy that continues to provide tension and a level of debate is why certain drugs, such as nicotine, are allowed to be produced and consumed within the purview of government regulation whereas other drugs, such as marijuana, are completely and entirely outlawed by the federal government. One might posit that the reason for such a differential has to do with the overall level of harm differential that exists between these two drugs; however, when one considers the fact that both drugs are ultimately damaging to one’ s health – if inhaled – the level of the differential between them, from a quality of health standpoint, is negligible.

Within such an understanding, the following analysis will seek to compare and contrast the objective and subjective effects of both nicotine and marijuana (Excelsior College, n.d. ). Moreover, an analysis of the different government policies and regulations that constrain their usage will be analyzed alongside a discussion of the health risks that utilizing these substances necessarily portend.

It is the hope of this author that such an analysis will land the reader to have a more actionable and definitive understanding of current drug policy had whether or not it represents an effective and ethical response to issues of public health are evidenced within current society (Cannabinoids and Cancer, 2009). Although it is not the place of this brief analysis to advocate a safe entirely new approach to drug policy within the United States, it is the hope of this research that a greater level of inference with regards to the appropriate response framework that government represents will be able to be inferred. The following section of the analysis will concern some of the potential benefits associated with it.   One of the first of these has to do with the overall level of pain management that medical marijuana can effect as compared to other (oftentimes more powerful narcotics).   What is of extreme importance to note here is whether or not the medical marijuana itself is being used as a maintenance drug or used to ameliorate the effects of extreme pain due to debilitating and/or terminal illness (The Science of Marijuana, 2014).   The reason that this is of such great importance is concentric upon the fact that many of the negative side effects that marijuana has for its users are oftentimes not immediately exhibited.   Furthermore, if the medical marijuana is being used to lessen the pain of a terminally ill patient, it only stands to reason that the medical professionals responsible for prescribing and monitoring the pain management of given individual will likely not be highly concerned with the fact that a litany of negative long-term side effects for the drug exists as they do not normally expect the patient to live long enough to experience these. Delving into the history of marijuana use and cultivation within the United States, it has definitively been noted that one of the main reasons for why marijuana is not currently legal is due to the fact that it posed a fundamental threat to large tobacco companies and was thus sidelined via legislation over 100 years ago.

Naturally, it cannot be said that any and all reasons for marijuana being outlawed has to do with special interests and or big money.

Rather, marijuana, as compared to tobacco, is a psychoactive drug. What is meant by this is the fact that whereas one can smoke a cigarette, or derived nicotine via a litany of different delivery methods, the psychological mindset of the individual remains unaltered. Although they may feel a sense of well-being, their ability to make decisions and react to situations is unaltered. However, the case of marijuana is quite different; as the individual is ultimately impacted psychologically by the drug itself (Excelsior College, n.d. ). It is oftentimes assumed that smoking marijuana is somehow safer than smoking cigarettes.

This incorrect assumption is oftentimes the derived from the belief that the lack of man-made carcinogens that are found in marijuana make the smoking of marijuana more “ helpful” than the smoking of tobacco. However, scholarship has indicated that the differential of health impacts from smoking cigarettes as compared to smoking marijuana is in fact, quite the same. The ultimate reason for this is not contingent upon whether or not mass-produced cigarettes have a higher concentration of carcinogens than make the homemade application of marijuana smoking; instead, it has to do with the fact that the marijuana delivery mechanisms and the means by which marijuana is smoked are necessarily quite different from the means by which cigarettes are smoked.

For instance, medical studies have indicated that an individual who smokes marijuana tends to inhale 2 to 3 times as much smoke as the typical cigarette smoker. By the same token, the means by which marijuana is smoked is usually either via a bomb or via some type of self-made height or home-made rolled cigarette.

As such, these do not have any way of blocking the harmful tar and other carcinogens that are extant within any inhaled smoke (Cannabinoids and Cancer, 2014). Moreover, the ultimate reason behind marijuana smokers attempting to inhale more of the smoke at each and every opportunity has to do with the fact that there is a direct psychoactive connection between the amount of smoke inhaled in the overall feeling of well-being and satisfaction that is derived. Although there is not a singular approach that will solve all the societal ills that can be caused by the use of illicit substances, or even of legal substances such as alcohol or tobacco, it is painfully evident, from the analysis that has been conducted, the current policy does not have a justifiable moral, ethical, or illegal grounding.

Drugs, by their very nature, are damaging to the individual as a degree of addiction is able to be retained and the individual user becomes numb to the physiological health ramifications that continued use portends.

However, a level of legality or illegality for such an action has a little bearing with regards to the behaviour that an individual is likely to portray.


Excelsior College. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2014, from

Excelsior College. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2014, from

Cannabinoids Induce Cancer Cell Proliferation via Tumor Necrosis Factor α-Converting Enzyme (TACE/ADAM17)-Mediated Transactivation of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2014, from

The Science of Marijuana: How THC Affects the Brain | Scholastic: Nida. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2014, from

Cannabinoids and cancer: pros and cons of an antitumour strategy - Bifulco - 2009 - British Journal of Pharmacology - Wiley Online Library. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2014, from

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