Medical Cannabis vs. Traditional Medications

The following sample Psychology dissertation is 2630 words long, in APA format, and written at the undergraduate level. It has been downloaded 519 times and is available for you to use, free of charge.


The use of medicinal marijuana has been as controversial a subject as the legalization of marijuana. However, the idea of using it as a pain reliever rather than recreationally seems to be the theme that recently, many researchers want to explore. The ability to create a natural pain reliever that is comparable to doctor prescribed medicine is a considerable discovery, as well as a divisive one; but looking back at the history of marijuana, it is not such a foreign subject. The only problem now is integrating the drug into the medical field and gaining acceptance for its uses.

The History of Medicinal Marijuana

Marijuana has been used for therapeutic purposes for quite some time (Abel 1980), and since the beginning of the 20th century has pulled in much open deliberation about the uses for the medication in certain sicknesses. Ailments such as cancer, Human immunodeficiency infection, numerous sclerosis issues, along with many other debilitating maladies may be remedied by introducing medicinal marijuana to the issue. As of now, there are numerous diverse requisitions of the utilization of marijuana. Most of them are found in the field of medicine involving chronic pain to enhance general living without the use of painkillers and their side effects. The purpose of this research is to think about the advantages as well as the disadvantages of medicinal marijuana utilized within medicine as opposed to the doctor prescribed medications such as Vicodin and Deperol, which have negative side effects for some who rely on its use. This topic of research might create an argument that marijuana should be utilized progressively within prescription plans. This would enhance more experimentation, and support to the progression of the political civil argument on medicinal weed and its validity.

Cannabis has been utilized for medicinal purposes for centuries, stated to be first noted by the Chinese in c. 2737 BCE (Sullivan MD, Mayor JD). Medicinal cannabis landed in the United States much later. In spite of its many uses, after the coming of opioids and headache medicine, medicinal cannabis use decreased. Cannabis was criminalized in the United States in 1937, against the guidance of the American Medical Association submitted on record to Congress. The previous few decades have re-established investments in medicinal cannabis, with the National Institutes of Health, the Institute of Medicine, and the American College of Physicians, all searching for further research. Cannabis holds more than 100 diverse cannabinoids and has the ability to force the absence of pain through neuromodulation in rising and plunging ache pathways, neuroprotection, and mitigating-systems (Carter GT). This article surveys the flow and developing research on the physiological instruments of cannabinoids and their requisitions in maintaining pain, muscle spasticity, and other crippling issues.

The Mixing of Marijuana and Opiates

Three puffs a day of cannabis assists individuals with endless pain torment feel less uncomfortable and rest better. Consistent with a Canadian crew of scientists, Mark Ware, MD associate educator of anesthesia and family solution at McGill University in Montreal states “'It's been known episodically, about 10% to 15% of patients going to an interminable agony center utilize cannabis as a feature of their agony control technique.” Ware's study is more logical. A clinical trial in which his group contrasted placebo and three diverse measurements of cannabis was used on patients. The examination is printed in CMAJ, the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The new study ''adds to the trickle of confirmation that cannabis may help a portion of the patients who are battling with pain at present," Henry McQuay, DM, an emeritus colleagueat Balliol College, Oxford University, in England claims.

Although marijuana used medically can control pain at a substantial rate, it’s still sufficient to say that the risk of mixing it with other medications becomes the main concern, as well as the idea of addiction. Results from various studies are popping up everywhere, proving that although marijuana is considered a schedule one drug, it does not affect blood pressure levels while on other medications. In fact, it may even reduce blood pressure levels, research from The British Pharmacological Society References “Cannabis is known to reduce hypertension to normal levels with regular use and to maintain normal levels with continued use in some cases.” Although a risk factor occurs every time a patient uses any sort of drug, the risk of actually becoming addicted to marijuana is far less than becoming addicted to opiates, as there are no records in research that confirm addiction to marijuana yet.

Naturally, there will be an opposing side for any stance on any subject, and Dr. Dora Dixie, who is a physician for the Cook County Bureau of Health stated that “her experience in working with individuals who battle addiction is one of the reasons she does not support medical marijuana.” Further on in the article it also states that she does not have enough information and research to actually support the use of it. She argues that “most medicines go through three phases of testing, including testing for adverse reactions, testing for effectiveness and testing for interactions with other drugs.” Unfortunately, the lack of information and the force with which some doctors argue against it could be detrimental for people in chronic pain. The interaction of opiates, as well as marijuana, seems to be just as much of a risk factor as the mixing of opiates with other prescribed medications, though there are actual instances where overdose has occurred in that case. According to Dr David Walters, a Mount Vernon Physician “No one has died of an overdose of marijuana that I know of ever. But they’ve died from OxyContin, Vicodin and all these other drugs that are legal.” The idea that any drug is not going to be abused in some way is ludicrous. The abuse of legally prescribed drugs is relevant, as well as alcohol, and thus trying to argue that the reason medicinal marijuana could become a drug that is abused is irrelevant. There is no research to prove the theory correct and in essence, the argument is not how will the drug be abused, but how will it benefit the ill.

Lack of Research Prohibits the Use of Medicinal Marijuana

The lack of research and knowledge made available to doctors regarding medicinal marijuana is astounding. Government laws insinuate that the research of marijuana would not be beneficial because it will“send the wrong message to the public, and in particular to our children, namely that marijuana is acceptable for recreational use and even beneficial”(pg41) Peter J Clark states. At this point marijuana is growing more legal in the recreational sense. Twenty of the fifty states have now legalized medicinal use of marijuana, so the ability to approach research on it is certainly becoming more acceptable among researchers and physicians alike. However, that leaves thirty states, and mass amounts of people in the dark on the subject of using cannabis to legally improve the health of sick members of communities. The ACP is in strong support to protect patients as well as physicians who choose to research this area, as they state “ACP strongly urges protection from criminal or civil penalties for patients who use medical marijuana as permitted under state laws." With more support from large companies, the ability to more effectively research marijuana could substantially help people who are suffering. With organizations such as the National Eye Institute, the support isn’t there because of side effects. Although many other more dangerous drugs have side effects, it is easy for large companies to shimmy past using medicinal marijuana because of legalities using excuses such as “side effects from smoked marijuana, coupled with the emergence of highly effective FDA-approved medications for glaucoma treatment, may have led to diminished interest in this research area.” It seems as if the companies are avoiding getting involved because of legality issues, and forgetting thatthe most important reason for the research is the patients who truly want to try it. Denying a patient in chronic pain the capability to feel better is inhumane. What is more unfortunate is that doctors are willing to prescribe known, addictive, opioids to patients instead of something more natural for their bodies.

It comes down to the fact that more people need to see actual results from research, rather than observational effects, which is why research awareness is such an important aspect. As MD Bill Frist implies “Based on current evidence, I believe that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that there are less dangerous medicines offering the same relief from pain and other medical symptoms” and unfortunately he’s right. One of the bigger problems that presents itself is whether or not marijuana will be considered as addictive if not more so, than drugs that are already available to reduce pain. However, it still stands that the lack of knowledge and the need for research on the subject prohibits worthy patients from the pain relief they deserve.

The Use of Marijuana for Chronic Pain

The reasons that marijuana should be used to control and relieve chronic pain are undeniable. As M.D. Jocelyn Elders, former US Surgeon General states "The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS -- or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them.” To have someone who clearly has such a strong background in medicine confirm what millions of people worldwide suspect, should only encourage others to want to explore the possibility that marijuana could make a sizeable difference in the life of patients who suffer from intolerable pain.

There is some hesitation for the use of marijuana as a pain reliever because of the question about whether or not it could be addictive or interfere with other opioids being given to patients simultaneously. However “Research is beginning to show that there is a synergy between cannabinoids and opioids and thus, a patient could decrease the amount of opioids necessary to manage pain due to the opioid sparing effect of cannabis” (J Pain Symptom Manage, 25(6), 496-498) – These small discoveries could be the beginning of a spectacular new way to cut out the scientifically proven addiction to opioids; and rather than focusing completely on the negative aspect of marijuana, take into account a particularly different problem at hand as well; which is the addiction to opioids.

The doctors who have reached out to patients with certain diseases that affect their daily life seem to have a firm grasp on the reality of the situation involving cannabis. These doctors prescribe medicinal marijuana to their patients to help them achieve a comfort that was lost to them during their sickness. Doctor Gregory T. Carter states “There are really no other medications that have the same mechanisms of action as marijuana. Dronabinol (Marinol) is available by prescription in capsules, but has the distinct disadvantage of containing only synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is only one of many therapeutically beneficial cannabinoids in the natural plant” comparatively, the other drugs that have been used by doctors can achieve what cannabis does, but with other higher risks. The constant repeat offender of risks is addiction. There is no scientific research to prove that marijuana is addictive, and Carter expresses his strong feelings toward this belief when he compares cannabis to an actual drug that is prescribed, stating the benefits far outweigh the risk. No matter what the outcome is though, there is always an opposing side to every argument.

The Opposition of Medicinal Marijuana

Throughout the history of marijuana, there has always been an opposing side when it came to the use of it medicinally as well as recreationally. The Institute of Medicine Report states that “Insummary, patients with preexisting immune deficits due to AIDS should be expected to be vulnerable to serious harm caused by smoking marijuana." Most of the insinuations made on medicinal marijuana have to do with severe and chronic illnesses. One can be easily deterred when reading a quote such as the one that the IMR made. In opposition to this statement, there are others that counteract the implications, such as studies done by Dr Donald Abrams that state “Patients receiving cannabinoids [smoked marijuana and marijuana pills] had improved immune function compared with those receiving placebo. They also gained about 4 pounds more on average than those patients receiving placebo." It seems that there may not be a truly definitive answer in the case of medicinal marijuana; which allows for the question to be asked, is there ever a definitive answer when it comes to the medical field and putting foreign substances into the human body? The perspectives on medicinal cannabis can be explored as widespread as any other medication, it just depends on whether or not the government will evolve enough to allow accurate research.

Perspectives on the Use of Cannabis as Medical

There are numerous studies that have been conducted to try and place medicinal marijuana into a category that is safe and widely accepted; the part that gets in the way is the governments worry that there will be too much of an obligation and responsibility that comes along with legalizing a drug that can be used recreationally. Through thorough research, trying to find statistics that confirm what the government is implying are so sporadic and random that it is hard to confirm, or even believe that these studies are accurate. What can be confirmed is the actual scientific studies that apply to actual patients who feel relief when given THC. The more work that is put into research, the more of a chance there will be for people to have a healthier wayof using pain relievers. The more people publicize medicinal marijuana as a constructive, homeopathic remedy for any ailment, the more the public will react in a positive way toward it. Truthfully, the U.S. runs off of propaganda, and if the right amount of publicity is put toward the promotion of medicinal marijuana, the more people will respond. It is important to allow informed discussions of medicinal marijuana and its use over those of opioids which are proven to lead to overdose and death, whereas medicinal marijuana has none of those qualities.


Abrams, Donald. "Short-Term Effects of Cannabinoids in Patients with HIV-1 Infection." Annals of Internal Medicine 127.n/a (2003): 12. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.

ACP American College of Physicians - Internal Medicine - Doctors for Adults. "Supporting Research into the Therapeutic Role of Marijuana." American College of Physicians. N.p., 6 Feb. 2008. Web. 26 Oct. 2013. <

Assessing the Science Base." Marijuana and Medicine n/a.n/a (1999): 1. Print.

Atakan, Zerrin. "Marijuana As Medicine? The Science Beyond The Controversy ." BMJ: British Medical Journal 323.7305 (2001): 171. Print.

Carter, Gregory. "Muscular Dystrophy Association ." University of Washington Medical Center. (2003): 1. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.

Chaboya-Hembree , Jan. "Medical Marijuana." Medical Marijuana. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved from <

Clark, Peter, and Peter Cohen. "Medical Marijuana." The Hastings Center Report 33.2 (2003): 4-5. Print.

Clark, Peter. "The Ethics of Medical Marijuana: Government Restrictions vs. Medical Necessity." Journal ofPublic Health Policy 21.1 (2000): 40-60. n/a. Web. 25 Oct.2013.

Elders, Jocelyn. "Myths about Medical Marijuana." Providence Journal 286 (2004): 1. Print.

Frist, Bill, Correspondence to Oct. 20, 2003. "Glaucoma and Marijuana use." National Eye Institute 19.2 (2009): 1. Print.

Lynch, M.E., and Clark. "Opioid Sparing." Medical Cannabis. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved from <>.

Muhammad, Jacqueline. "Physician claims prescription drugs worse than marijuana." N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved from <

Nahas G, Trouve R (1985) Effects and interactions of natural cannabinoids on the isolated heart. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 180(2):312-6