Colorado recently became the first state to sell marijuana for recreational use. The historical move has prompted other states such as Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana and Nevada to push for legalization. Twenty states, including Colorado, already allowed it for medicinal purposes, but the recent step taken by Colorado is raising eyebrows as well as questions about the harmful affects of smoking marijuana.
Proposed medical benefits
New York's Governor Cuomo also plans to legalize medical marijuana, joining a total of 20 states who have taken this step based on medical benefits such as relieving certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by illnesses like multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS.
According to Harvard Medical School, there have been no reported cases of lung cancer or emphysema attributed to marijuana. However, the British Lung Foundation disagrees. They state that "3-4 Cannabis cigarettes a day are associated with the same evidence of acute and chronic bronchitis and the same degree of damage to the bronchial mucosa as 20 or more tobacco cigarettes a day."
The risks stated with the use of marijuana include harm to the heart, lungs, brain, endocrine system, and eyes, impaired lung function from smoking, increased heart rate and a decrease in blood pressure from smoking marijuana, decreased appetite, sleep difficulty, weight loss, and more.
What's the difference between Marinol and legal marijuana?
Marinol, used in those states that allow marijuana use for medicinal benefits, is different than smoking the marijuana plant. Marinol uses one pure, FDA-approved pharmaceutical in stable known dosages. The marijuana plant has an unstable mixture of over 400 chemicals. Because they have not been studied, they could pose a health risk.
How do hospitals view the medical use of marijuana?
Most all the top hospitals across the country either refrain from taking a position on the use of marijuana, do not recommend its use to treat health conditions (Cleveland Clinic), warn of the risks involved (Mayo Clinic, University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers) or state that they will not be participating. One fact is certain. The views on this issue will be highly debated by the medical profession and state governments across the country for a long time to come.