The United States is currently at odds over the legalization of medical marijuana. While the use of recreational marijuana is a hotly contested topic, the use of medicinal marijuana is perhaps even more of an issue. Patients who claim cannabis helps them manage — or even heal — their chronic illnesses feel the government’s war on drugs is in fact a war on holistic and alternative health practices.
The legalization of medicinal marijuana has occurred in almost half — 23 — of the countries 50 states, though each state’s guidelines dictating the distribution and use of legal medical marijuana varies. For example, while medicinal marijuana use is legal and permitted in New York State, it cannot be smoked. However, the road towards legalization of medical marijuana has been a long one for the remaining 27 states.
While the controversy and debate surrounding the legalization of medicinal may seem fairly new, the benefits of medicinal marijuana have been known for thousands of years, dating as far back as 2737 B.C. when Chinese Emperor Shen Nung wrote a book singing its praise. Emperor Nung, who as also a pharmacologist, claimed cannabis was highly effective in treating widespread and chronic inflammation, pain, depression, nausea, and for a variety of other ailments including gout. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, cannabis was also used to treat parasitic infections.
Similarly, in today’s modern times various medicinal marijuana strains are used to treat many of the same chronic conditions. Having experienced adverse side effects from drugs used to treat inflammation, pain, depression, anxiety, and other ailments, many patients claim medicinal marijuana is the only substance that has been effective in treating their symptoms without causing additional problems.
Many veterans diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are waging a war of their own against Veterans Affairs in order to have access to medicinal marijuana for treatment. Veterans suffering from PTSD are often prescribed a cocktail of highly habit-forming antidepressants and opioids in order to manage their symptoms, however, the side effects experienced while taking these medications are said to only make matters worse.
However, despite the legal woes surrounding the legalization — and social acceptance — of medical marijuana, substantial progress has been made which offers supporters a glimmer of hope.