Medical officials believe cannabis has serious health concerns
According to a recent survey conducted by Gallup, Inc., an American management consulting company known for its public opinion polls, 66 percent of adults in the United States support legalizing marijuana.
While worldwide support for legalising recreational cannabis use continues to grow, medical officials continue to maintain an opposing position — marijuana should not be legalised for non-medical use. The advice given, and statements made, by several prominent medical organizations from around the world suggest medical officials say “no” to a legislative push to legalize recreational cannabis for adult use.
American Medical Association (AMA) Policy on Cannabis
The AMA considers cannabis a dangerous drug with serious public health concerns. The association opposes legalisation of use and sale of recreational marijuana. In addition to opposing legalisation, the organization recommends that marijuana use should be discouraged, especially by persons vulnerable to the drug’s effects. Cannabis use should also be discouraged in high-risk populations, such as pregnant women, youth, and women who are breastfeeding. The AMA suggests that states, where cannabis is legal, should take strict regulatory steps to protect public health and safety following legalisation.
Another leading medical organization, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), supports the decriminalization of cannabis by reducing penalties for cannabis possession. However, the organization doesn’t support recreational marijuana legalisation. Instead, ASAM recommends that states that have not legalised marijuana should wait until more definite data from states that have already legalised marijuana can be studied.
According to Dr. David B. Samadi, a board-certified urologic oncologist and an expert in robotic prostate surgery, marijuana legalisation is not a good idea, except for medical use. He believes marijuana is a potent mind-altering drug that can cause serious short- and long-term harms. Samadi says people use marijuana, even if it remains illegal, and legalisation will lead to increased use of the drug and make people believe it is not harmful.
Australia law enforcement support the Greens; medical officials oppose
The Australian Greens, a green political party, proposed a plan for full legalisation of use and sale of recreational cannabis. Senator Richard DI Natale, leader of the Greens, wants to legalise cannabis for citizens over the age of 18, with strict regulations on production and sale. Natale believes that legalisation will take the drug out of the hands of criminal organizations and reduce the crime rate in the country.
Although the Greens’ plan has garnered significant support from nationals, as well as many law enforcement officials, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) quickly ruled out its support. The organization’s president, Tony Bartone, argues that cannabis has serious physical and mental health concerns. He told the Sydney Morning Herald that marijuana comes with considerable health concerns, especially in the younger age group.
UK officials’ thoughts
Cannabis is a class B drug in the United Kingdom; meaning it is illegal to possess, grow, or distribute cannabis. Anyone caught with the drug could face imprisonment of five years and an unlimited fine. Supplying the drug could lead to a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment. Motivated by the case of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell, who had cannabis oil to treat his severe epilepsy seized at Heathrow airport, the UK government, in November 2018, approved medical cannabis oil on prescription. Prior to November, cannabis was classified as a Schedule One drug, meaning it was defined as a drug without any therapeutic value.
Despite this significant step in regards to medical marijuana, the government and medical officials remain resistant towards recreational cannabis. William Hague, the former Conservative Party leader, said that the existing UK’s drug policy is inappropriate and ineffective. In response, Home Office stresses that any debate about the therapeutic use of cannabis does not extend to any review for the reclassification of the drug. Therefore, the penalties for its possession, cultivation, and distribution will remain the same. The British Medical Association (BMA) also classifies cannabis as an illicit drug. The government’s maintains the position that strong scientific and medical evidence concludes cannabis is a dangerous drug that has adverse effects on the mental and physical health of those who use it.
Even medical officials in Canada, the second largest country to legalise marijuana, often discuss the ill effects of cannabis. The Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Paediatric Society and a few other organizations have concerns about cannabis use, especially for chronic smokers under the age of 25.
The reason behind opposing cannabis legalisation could be the lack of strong evidence, insufficient research, and insufficient regulatory mechanisms controlling cannabis use in countries and states that have already legalised its use. Another theory, a social one, could be that society has operated on a set of norms for so long that oppose the idea of legalising the plant. Regardless of the reasoning behind oppostion, along with the many science-backed claims that justify the legalisation of medical marijuana, a second thought is truly needed in light of the health concerns cannabis may have.