by Navya Baranwal '20
November is the prime time for election season and in addition to the compelling presidential election this year, nine states have added marijuana legislation to their ballots. The debate on legalizing marijuana for recreational or medical use has been raging for years. Even though the United States characterizes cannabis as a dangerous schedule 1 drug, 25 states approve of the use of medical marijuana.
There is even evidence that shows that the chemicals in cannabis have a significant anti-cancer effect. THC and CBD are cannabinoids and the human body has two cannabinoid-receptors: CB1 (mostly found in the brain) and CB2 (found on immune cells). When immune cells become cancerous, they still retain the CB2 receptors. Studies conducted in vitro shows that cannabinoids reduce cancer, and in an in vivo study, approximately 25-30% of mice were completely cured of cancer, and the remaining mice had a reduction in tumor size. There have been other studies conducted on various types of cancers, such as brain cancer and breast cancer. Clinical trials with leukemia patients are beginning to see the effect of marijuana on humans. While chemotherapy hurts healthy cells in addition to the targeted cancer cells, marijuana treatment can potentially only target the cancer cells.
Marijuana should be legalized for medical use. While 400,000 deaths per year can be attributed to tobacco, there have been zero deaths associated with marijuana. No animals have died from studies with marijuana and the LD-50 of the drug is seemingly astronomical! A medical miracle with such a large range of applications, there is no surprise to see a shift in views about the legalization of marijuana. California, for instance, legalized medical cannabis 20 years ago, but in the ballots, voters have the opportunity to vote for its recreational use. In Florida, the vote regarding marijuana deals with the legalization of its medical use for cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, and other conditions. The vote in Maine about marijuana is about the regulation and taxation of cannabis. Likewise, 6 other states had marijuana initiatives. It’s only a matter of time until our country as a whole starts to see the magic of marijuana.