Medical Marijuana: Legal or Lethal?

**DISCLAIMER - All views in this article are my own and do not represent those of either Her Campus or the University of Exeter.**

Over the last few decades, medical marijuana has become legalized in many states across the Unites States, and the health benefits have been praised around the world. However despite the advocacy of many chronic pain and cancer patients here in the United Kingdom – it is still illegal to smoke or possess cannabis in England.

The debate around the legality of marijuana in the UK is one that is fought for strongly on both sides, each with credible perspectives. The legalisation of a drug is not a decision that should be taken lightly, but it shouldn’t be ignored altogether either. Below are some of the strongest lines of argument for and against the legalisation of the Class B drug:

For Legalization:

  • Better than Booze: weed is much better for you than other legal drugs such as alcohol or tobacco, and significantly less addictive.
  • Regulations: legalizing cannabis would mean strict regulations that can ensure quality and safety. Regulations mean venders can be sure their product is not cut with anything else that can be potentially harmful.
  • Health Benefits: many patients in the UK are being denied treatment simply because of the criminalization of this drug. Not only can cannabis help patients with epilepsy or chronic pain, but CBD oil is found to have beneficial effects on rheumatoid arthritis patients too.

Against Legalization:

  • Mental Health: cannabis has been shown to cause or trigger mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia and paranoia. With ease of access through legalization, cases of severe mental health could increase.
  • Gateway Drug: it is suggested by addiction experts that using cannabis can potentially cause a person to try other illegal drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine or heroin.
  • Dependency and Illness: despite not being addictive, the NHS advise that cannabis can lead to dependency, and potentially severe health problems. These include increased heart rate, lung disease and possibly cancer in long-term, severe use.

As a chronic pain sufferer, I have found the health benefits of cannabis to be lifechanging. I have a condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome that causes pain, dislocations, spasms, nausea, headaches and much more. For me, using cannabis, as well as CBD oil, has allowed me to ween off the much stronger opiates that I have become reliant on in recent months. Not only has the cannabis acted as a pain reliever, it also helped me manage the withdrawal symptoms I experienced as a result of reducing my opiates. Here is a more general list of some of the health issues marijuana can help to treat:

  • Chronic pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Epileptic seizures
  • CBD can help reduce cancer from spreading
  • Anxiety
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Arthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease related tremors
  • PTSD

I’m sure the debate over whether cannabis should be legal or not is one that will continue in years to come, and most people seem to have strong, fully formed opinions already. I feel that with such a huge decision, it is important to be fully informed and as unbiased as possible. However, personally the health benefits greatly outweigh concerns over potential dependency, and I hope to see a change in the near future, for the sake of all chronically ill patients nationally.