This article questions the use of medical marijuana for children with cancer. “Experts at the University of California’s Center for Medical Cannabis Research cautions that effects of the drug on a child’s development is unknown” (Szalavitz). The article compares marijuana to opioids. Opioid drugs are used to suppress pain, examples include morphine and Oxycontin. Opioids can lead to addiction and can cause nausea and vomiting. The article also notes that the effect of opioids on child development is unknown. Marijuana on the other hand, suppresses pain and addiction rates are lower than for opioids. In addition to lower addiction rates, physical withdrawal symptoms are not seen in those who are addicted to opioids. Opioids are legal in the U.S. whereas medical marijuana is legal in only 19 states. The argument is that while opioids and marijuana have unknown effects of child development, why is one legal and the other illegal?
The article includes the story of Mykayla Comstock, a 7-year old girl battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Mykayla’s mother, Erin Purchase, decided to give her cannabis oil in the form of the pill when chemotherapy response was poor. She has done research on marijuana’s effect on cancer cells and believes it is what caused Mykayla to go into remission. Even though medical marijuana use is legal in Mykayla’s state, Oregon, her doctors advised against it for the reason of not knowing how it could affect her development. Treatment for cancer pain and nausea already exist, but it is recognized by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that some people do not respond well to those treatments and believe that marijuana can be helpful. Although there is no sufficient research to determine the effects on a child’s development, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has decided that more studies of medicinal marijuana are needed.
I think marijuana should be legalized strictly for medicinal use. If marijuana provides the same function as opioids but with less side effects, than I do not see a reason to ban marijuana. It should also be noted that some existing treatment to suppress pain does not always help the patient. As stated in the article, marijuana can be an alternative to those who do not respond to opioid drugs. The side effects that can occur while taking opioid drugs can cause you to take other drugs to counter those side effects. This happens often and people are paying more for extra medication. Marijuana can do the job of opioid drugs without side effects and can essentially save the individual and insurance companies a lot of money.
This issue impacts the cost aspect of health care in a very dramatic way. If marijuana was legalized for medical use all over the United States, pharmaceutical companies would lose millions or even billions of dollars because people would be able to grow their own marijuana. The only other problem would be distribution and those using it recreationally instead of medicinally. In contrast, pharmaceutical companies could also make a lot of money selling medical marijuana to those in need. If it is controlled by pharmaceutical companies there would be controlled distribution ensuring that only those who have prescription can buy it.