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What are the Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana Legalization?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 17, 2024
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Any type of marijuana legalization discussion is likely to be fraught with controversy. While advocates of legalization argue that the drug is less, or at least, no more harmful than the already legal tobacco or alcohol, those opposed insist that the drug may be a gateway to using harder, more dangerous drugs and could lead to increased accidents and fatalities caused by people under the influence. Medical marijuana legalization is a subtopic in this complex field of arguments, with its own long list of strong supporters and detractors.

According to considerable medical research, marijuana has the ability to soothe some symptoms associated with chronic or long-term illness, certain medical treatments, and chronic injury. The American Medical Association (AMA), while refusing to endorse legalization, has repeatedly asserted that the drug can be effective in managing nausea, vomiting, chronic pain, and other symptoms that cause patient discomfort. Additionally, patients undergoing symptom-causing treatments such as chemotherapy may be able to get symptomatic relief from medical marijuana when other drugs cannot be taken due to possible interference with the treatment. Medical marijuana legalization is often suggested as a compassionate law for those suffering from symptoms that other drugs cannot treat effectively.

Some people argue that medical marijuana legalization could provide great benefits to those with allergies or sensitivities, or little response to existing legal drugs. Legalization could also provide symptomatic relief to those who cannot take existing legal drugs due to contraindications. It provides an alternative therapy to end-of-life patients who do not wish to continue traditional drug therapy due to side effects.

Many arguments against medical marijuana legalization suggest that not enough research has been done to determine if the drug is safe, effective, and can be correctly standardized for dosage. Additionally, some are afraid that legalizing the drug for medical use will make it easier for minors and non-patients to obtain illegally. Some also argue that since the drug is so widely cultivated illegally, it would be enormously difficult to standardize growing rights and could lead to an extensive black market in the drug.

In some countries, medical and recreational marijuana is already legal with some restrictions. Australia, Argentina, Chile and Canada are among the countries that have allowed marijuana to be used on a personal basis in small quantities. Throughout most of the world, possession of large amounts of the drug is illegal, though the qualifying amount may vary greatly. In the United States in the early 21st century, federal law prohibits use of any kind, but some state laws allow the legal use of the drug for medical purposes. Medical marijuana legalization continues to be an issue surrounded by controversy in America.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By anon266447 — On May 05, 2012

In Australia, there absolutely should be a medical marijuana dispensary for people suffering with cancer, aids, chronic pain, etc. The list is endless. Why don't we have this in our country like they do in America?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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