In July of this year, the future of marijuana may very well lie on the balance in an upcoming federal review for the proposed rescheduling of the drug.
Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 type drug. This means that the federal government sees no medical use in marijuana, but considers it an addictive substance with high potential for abuse.
The proposed memo written by both the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (NDCP), is attempting to make a federal case for placing marijuana on a lower rung on the ladder of the schedule system in place by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Due to the placing of marijuana as a Schedule 1 type drug, this blocks federal researchers from conducting studies on the substance, often making it difficult to conduct low grade studies on it, which the memo was written to change.
Part of the federal review will be to look at the reasons why marijuana should be placed in a different schedule class, which means disproving its highly addictive qualities, along with its proposed medical use. Yet, a burning question often arising from this memo by the general American public is how will it affect us directly?
What This Means for the Future of Marijuana
If the federal review of the drug concludes with the government accepting the proposal from both the HHS and the NDCP, this will most likely have an immediate effect on the prescription and controlled drug market across the nation, if not the world.
Having marijuana scheduled on a lower rung of the schedule class means that the government will have then accepted a medical purpose behind the drug.
By the government accepting a medical purpose behind the drug, means that first research conducted on the drug on the federal level will now be legally and easily accessible, which means more money will then be invested in research and development groups relating to it. Also, the opening of medical grade marijuana will be available across the country–and not only in specific states as it is now.
While the controversy behind those prospects remain high, many different medical professionals seem to be in agreement over the positives outweighing the negatives overall. Also, with the door that can be opened to research and development, many professionals agree that this will only lead to more medial applications of the drug, which some argue will have an immediate effect on the pharmaceutical economy.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
Marijuana, like any other mind altering substance, holds a possibility of dependence and addiction.
Marijuana’s psychoactive component, tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC, once in the blood-brain barrier, resembles a chemical we create naturally in the brain known as anandamide. Because the brain then assumes THC is anandamide, it will then bind to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which then cause the neurons in the brain to become overactive. This overstimulation then gets received by the brain as a positive, to which it releases dopamine as a reward.
This process, when done repeatedly, can oftentimes lead to dependence and addiction. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that marijuana users ages 18 to 24 had reported nearly a 30 percent addiction rate.
The addictive quality of the drug, however, is often different than that of many other substances. Due to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain that are affected, overdose from it is unlikely to occur. Currently there have been no recorded cases of marijuana overdoses ever taking place. However, there have been deaths attributed to it. Most deaths recorded of someone being under the influence of the drug occurred while operating machinery, mostly automobiles.
Marijuana by its very nature is an addictive drug, especially for those who abuse it. Yet, this is not to downplay the medical aspects of the drug itself.
Marijuana Medicinal Use
Although controversy remains at an all-time high in the United States, due to the already existing legalization of marijuana in several different states–such as Colorado, California, and even Washington–the medical purpose behind the plant are being found time and again to be highly positive.
While the drug has several different medical purposes, the most popular and recorded one tend to be for pain management. Barth Wilsey, MD, a pain specialist from the University of California’s Davis Medical Center, found that pain by far is the most useful medical aspect of the drug. She found that individuals suffering from headaches, glaucoma, or even nerve pain are often among the most common cases for which the drug is prescribed.
However, while pain is certainly the most popular reason behind the prescriptions of marijuana to the general public, it is by far not the only purpose for why it is given.
According to a study conducted by Jacob Kaufman, MD, at the Department of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania:
“Cannabis has immunomodulatory [capable of regulating immune functions] properties and effects upon excitotoxicity [process by which neurons are damaged] that suggest that it might have a disease-modifying role in ALS [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease]. There have also been some anecdotal reports suggesting that marijuana may be effective in alleviating certain ALS symptoms…”
One of the major symptoms of those suffering through ALS, is the problem of lacking an appetite. Those suffering through ALS often lose weight, leading to malnutrition that ultimately worsens the overall effects of ALS in general. The study found that cannabis worked on most patients by stimulating their appetite, along with aiding in sleep, depression, and relieving anxiety.
Another study conducted by Raphael J. Braga, MD Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, found that cannabis use in patients with diagnosed bipolar disorder significantly helped neurocognitive functions. As the study found:
“Results from our analysis suggest that subjects with bipolar disorder and history of CUDs demonstrate significantly better neurocognitive performance, particularly on measures of attention, processing speed, and working memory…
These data could be interpreted to suggest that cannabis use may have a beneficial effect on cognitive functioning in patients with severe psychiatric disorders. However, it is also possible that these findings may be due to the requirement for a certain level of cognitive function and related social skills in the acquisition of illicit drugs.”
There are other studies conducted on cannabis that found it to be useful in the proliferation of breast cancer cells. One of the most important uses reported for cancer victims on cannabis, is the astounding results it has provided on those undergoing chemotherapy, by suppressing the side effects often attributed to chemo, such as nausea, vomiting, and appetite suppression.
Coming this summer, the ruling passed by the federal courts will undoubtedly affect the current addiction rates and trends regarding marijuana. Yet still, addiction rates to the drug remain phenomenally high, even at its current legal status. In a state like Colorado, one that has already legalized the drug, the state has seen a massive spike in reported addiction rates to marijuana, with fluctuations over the previous 2 years, along with rising emergency room visits relating to it.
As was the case with Colorado, so too should the addiction rates be expected to rise elsewhere, pending the federal review. Whether the memo passes or not, one thing should be abundantly clear, preparing oneself against the perils of addiction is vitally important to ensuring a successful and fulfilling life. At Drug Treatment Center Finder, we can connect you to an addiction specialist available 24/7.
Call 1-855-619-8070 today.