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02/04/17
Medical and Recreational Marijuana: bros or cons

MMJ still in the lead

In the light of recently accepted Prop. 64 I’ve decided to prove: never exchange an old friend for a new one. How good-looking, recreational and tempting it could seem at first sight.

It’s known that cannabis is still illegal under Federal Law. The regulation of drugs is realised through the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. § 811), which does not recognize the difference between medical and recreational use of cannabis.These laws are generally applied only against persons who possess, cultivate, or distribute large quantities of cannabis.

Some states, such as Virginia, enacted laws decades ago allowing for the possession of marijuana if individuals received prescriptions from doctors. Federal law, however, prohibits doctors from prescribing marijuana, rendering those laws invalid. Doctors can only write a recommendation for medical marijuana, which is different than a prescription.

We recommend to watch the video with an animated marijuana use map of USA on the BusinessInsider website.

Considering the issue of legalisation of marijuana we face such concepts as “medical” and “recreational” marijuana. And it’s rather confusing to differentiate these two notions. Taking into account some data I try to cast light on the matter.

Some dry facts. According to Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary medical marijuana is a term that refers to the use of marijuana and its derivatives for medical purposes – such as pain management, relief of spasticity, relief of nausea, and to increase appetite.

To the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) medical marijuana refers to using the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat a disease or symptom. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine.

Marijuana is used in medicine thanks to its substances that are called THC (short for for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol – hi, Chemistry, how ya doin’?). Because of this miraculous ingredient even Ancient Chinese and Egyptians described cannabis in therapeutic use centuries ago.

When THC enters the body it attaches to and stimulates cannabinoid receptors in the brain. The stimulation of these receptors affects the body in various ways. Among its effects are reduced pain and increased appetite.

Another chemical in marijuana that has beneficial health effects is cannabidiol (CBD). Unlike THC, this chemical isn’t psychoactive and doesn’t cause the intoxicating effects that THC does. According to NIDA, CBD can possibly be used to treat childhood epilepsy. It could also be turned into an oil for use as a healing salve. More research needs to be done into the effects of CBD.

Of course to state 100% sure that cannabis can be used without any side effects is impossible, because it’s a form of a recreational drug. And there is still a row of research that try to discover all bright and dark sides of this notorious herb. But no doubt that it contains power, of course that should be controlled.

Unfortunately people cause themselves a lot of trouble by inability to control power. That’s why because of our natural desire to abuse the role of cannabis is prejudiced  and underestimated as a medicine now.

We are used to thinking of marijuana as a drug, and we associate it with “quiet” danger. May be that’s why recreational marijuana is not so widespread as its medical sibling. It evokes hot debates that are not groundless.

The same chemical THC that gives reasons to use cannabis in medicine may also get people high. And some of course abuse it. THC acts on different parts of the brain to create a feeling of euphoria or pleasure. THC also stimulates appetite and sleep, and is known to enhance certain sensations such as smell, taste and temperature.

One more aspect worth mentioning is self-medication. People may also abuse marijuana not even realizing this in recreational use just to get rid of depression or insomnia, but without professional recommendation and doctor’s prescription for sure it could be dangerous. That’s why we need to understand: it’s extremely important to legalize the use of marijuana to avoid mildly speaking unpleasant cases. For this reason there are dispensaries, purposefully organised shops, working under pursuant laws and regulations, where people in need can purchase MEDICAL marijuana through a physician’s recommendation safe. And that I like more, here you may be sure that marijuana is quality, not of some doubtful sorts that may cause unpredictable reactions.

Getting back to the issue of legalisation of marijuana use I’d like to review the Governing California Statute, which made California the first state in the United States to legalize medical marijuana. According to I. Proposition 215 – The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 the cultivation and use of cannabis by seriously ill individuals upon a physician’s recommendation was decriminalized (Health & Safety Code §11362.5).

A Californian who has medical prescriptions is allowed to use cannabis in medical use. And caregivers, physicians, distributors who obtain and use cannabis are not subject to criminal prosecution or sanction.

And finally the year of 2016 has come. And with it the results of long-awaited elections and  California Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative. On the November 8, 2016 ballot supporters referred to initiative as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.  And it was approved.

Now it permits adults over 21 years of age who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program to legally grow (up to six plants, including all of the harvest from those plants) and to possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce of flower and/or up to eight grams of concentrates) while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. The law took effect on November 9, 2016.

Prop. 64 has already been considered a significant victory in the battle of legalization of marijuana. It literally has opened the doors to expansion of recreational marijuana.

Opponents to the process of legalization of marijuana use have got a rough punch because this means some of their aspects are fake. For example the official website of the Guardian informs about The Washington University survey which states that decriminalizing weed  doesn’t mean growth of youth disorders.

But does it mean that expansion of recreational marijuana excludes the medical one?

Under enormous question. For starters, nobody has changed Federal Law. And marijuana is still а Schedule I drug. Medical marijuana dispensaries are more eligible rather than recently adopted recreational one.

Secondly, according to Prop. 64 the sale and subsequent taxation of recreational marijuana will not go into effect until January 1, 2018. And it’s high time to mention taxation on recreational marijuana. There are three types of state taxes on recreational marijuana: the standard 2.9 percent sales tax; a 10 percent special marijuana sales tax; and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana transfers.Taking into account that marijuana sales have skyrocketed recently, it’s easy to imagine that tax growth on marijuana sales will keep increasing. Proposition 64 created two new excise taxes on marijuana. The first one will be a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves, with exceptions for certain medical marijuana sales and cultivation. The second is a 15 percent tax on the retail price of marijuana. Taxes will be adjusted for inflation starting in 2020. Local governments have been authorized to levy taxes on marijuana as well.

Thirdly, and most importantly, medical marijuana is extended by a physician’s recommendation which is meant for those who are in real need for cannabis, more important medical cannabis.

As for me being involved in the process of visiting local clinics, being asked, even for my own sake, and consulted, and examined as a lab mouse is pretty exhausting and stressful. But – OK, Google – it comes easy to find the official MMJ Herb website on the Internet and get a MMJ recommendation, not wasting my time, means and nerves.

With us it’s much easier to get a recommendation for medical cannabis, proved, true, legal, without any problems.

Thus, it’s my strong belief that it’s better to choose the lesser of two evils. Of course Prop.64 has broadened the use of cannabis, and hence the extension recreational cannabis, but it hasn’t belittled the initial aim of the cannabis use – for good and by no means for bad.  This should be the decisive point to follow why, what for and what sort of cannabis to use.