The Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana
Just how beneficial and disadvantageous is medical cannabis?

As 2018 ended, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he would support any bill that seeks to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Well, just a few days ago, the House of Representatives approved such a bill on its third and final reading – House Bill 6517 or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act.

The process still isn’t over though as the Senate have yet to approve their own version of the bill, but it may take a while as most of the senators are focused on the upcoming May 2019 elections. Even so, Presidential Spokesperson Panelo said Duterte “doesn’t have to certify the bill as urgent because they (Senate) also meant on passing.”

The issue of medical marijuana arose during the Miss Universe 2018 pageant, when the Philippines’ very own Catriona Gray was asked about her opinion on its legalization (she said was for it, and not to be used for recreational purposes).

With a number of politicians and the reigning Miss Universe backing the topic, maybe it’s time we looked at the various pros and cons medical marijuana brings.

The benefits

First a little background check. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the generic term used is cannabis as it denote the several psychoactive preparations of the plant Cannabis sativa. The word ‘marijuana’ originates from Mexico and often refers to cannabis leaves or other crude plant material.

The most recognized health effect of cannabis use – under controlled conditions – is its short-term euphoric and relaxing effects, most often used by people with anxiety symptoms. Of  course this depends on the amount of doses used, the route of administration, the setting and the mindset of the user.

Cannabis has also  been used in therapy for people in advanced stages of cancer and AIDS when they are nauseated or vomiting. When controlled, cannabis can be used for the treatment of asthma and glaucoma. Other therapeutic uses of cannabis are as antidepressants, appetite stimulants, anticonvulsants, and anti-spasmodics, although WHO suggests that research in this area should be furthered.

The disadvantages

It should come as no surprise that marijuana is the the most widely cultivated, trafficked and abused illicit drug. WHO’s analysis of cannabis markets show that the number of cannabis consumers is greater than opiate and cocaine consumers – though the former has a smaller market, it is fairly price-elastic over time.

Some of the acute health effects of cannabis include cognitive development impairment, that is, learning capabilities (trying to associate one thing with another; item recall). Cannabis also affects psychomotor performance – motor coordination, divided attention, and operative tasks.

Chronic health effects of cannabis include the processing impairment of complex information, respiratory diseases (bronchitis, lung inflammation, airway injury) due to long-term smoking, possibly aggravate schizophrenia in affected individuals, and fetal development impairment & postnatal risk of rare forms of cancer (when used during pregnancy).

Information from WHO and Manila Bulletin

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