Although it is classified as an illegal substance and has, over the course of the past several decades, received a great deal of negative press, there are several benefits associated with the use of medical marijuana and many are making the argument that medical marijuana should be legal. As a result, those suffering from pain caused by chronic conditions should have full and unrestricted access to medical marijuana and should not have to go without this viable treatment simply because marijuana is illegal for recreational use, fact that makes this issue related to medical marijuana legally questionable. To suggest that someone should suffer with a painful condition while a viable treatment or relief option exists, simply on the basis of illegality for widespread recreational use, is a fundamental violation of human rights.
One of the most important points to make in the debate about legalizing marijuana for medical use is the argument that the overwhelming data that exists to confirm the efficacy of medical marijuana to relieve pain caused by certain conditions, the arguments against the use of medical marijuana are based on speculation rather than hard fact. Quite simply put, as this argument about medical marijuana suggests, not allowing those suffering from illnesses caused by diseases such as AIDS, chemotherapy-related malaise, and glaucoma, is a violation of their natural rights to live without pain. Pain and suffering should not have to be something one should live with simply because of a law that is only in place for different purposes. Instead, as this argument suggests, medical marijuana should be given more credence in the legal and sociopolitical sphere and should be an acceptable form of treatment and relief for qualified patients.
It is a natural right that all human beings should have the right to live without pain and suffering and be able to make autonomous decisions regarding their healthcare, in consultation with a physician, of course (Younts 2005). What makes the argument in favor of the use of medical marijuana in approved cases so strong is that the plant exists, is widely available, and with control (even by the FDA or other federal or state regulatory organizations) the numerous proven benefits can help people live in accordance with their natural rights. As citizens, we are all entitled to make fundamental decisions about our lives and well-being. If one is suffering from a painful or debilitating condition and a relief option is present, it violates natural human rights to deny this treatment—even if it is illegal for recreational use. If further efforts are made to allow doctors to regulate the prescriptions of this substance to select and qualified patients, there should be no “bleed-over” into recreational use, which has long been the target of “wars” on drugs and drug abuse.
The pain and suffering caused by many conditions can be relived by the use of medical marijuana. Interestingly, although medical marijuana use is still illegal in most states, “the FDA has approved a drug known as Marinol, which contains THC, the active psychotropic ingredient of Cannabis sativa and a controlled substance, for oral use in treating both loss of appetite due to the AIDS-wasting syndrome and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting” (Cohen 2006). This is quite a paradoxical situation because on the one hand, the Federal Food and Drug Administrationis recognizing that there are obvious benefits found in the active compound of marijuana, THC, yet still must require a synthetic compound rather than the actual plant. This certainly sends mixed message because it is at once offering validity to the many medical claims about the efficacy of medical marijuana yet it is also going on the conviction that “drugs are bad” and thus must not be allowed—even if the key ingredient is the same.