Negative Impact of Marijuana Smoking on The Respiratory System

Likely to take risks. Individuals also face impairment of neurological functioning including alterations to perception, paranoia, and effects on memory. For chronic use, the report focuses on adverse effects on the respiratory system from smoking marijuana, one’s ability to learn, and memory. Also falling under the category of risks to public health was the theory of marijuana acting as a gateway drug. The gateway drug theory has been one that has been controversial for many because there is not much consensus as to whether this is something truly viable, with even experts related to the issue being divided on what is the truth.

Many experts point to two separate theories for marijuana as a gateway drug, which are the experimentation theory and the social group theory. With the experimentation theory, individuals will try out the drug for some reason and their brains will get hooked to the pleasure that is derived from marijuana, and this pleasure will lead those individuals to further experimentation.

With the social group theory, it is believed that individuals who use marijuana will associate with others who do the same, making it more likely for the individual to become exposed to other drugs. But there have been many to come out against the gateway drug theory, including HHS themselves, who note that there are often many socioeconomic factors that play into drug use in general, rather than just having used marijuana leading to other drug use. The last portion of the DEA’s reasoning to be discussed is that marijuana currently has no accepted medical use at the national level.

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At this time, the FDA has not approved marijuana as the subject of a new drug application, and therefore marijuana does not have accepted medical use in the United States, either with or without restrictions, though they note that clinical researchers do have the opportunity to test the drug.

Because of the lack of testing, as the DEA points out, there is also a severe lack of safety standards associated with marijuana and HHS indicates that they would like to see a procedure created for “delivering a consistent dose of marijuana.” Many of these reasons put forward by the DEA are ones that are likely to be consistent among others who do not feel marijuana is a drug that should be available for medical use and remain a Schedule I substance. With the argument outlined, the question that remains is what would the effect be of keeping marijuana a Schedule I drug? This would equate to maintaining of status quo and a continuation of many of the same issues that we see right now. Marijuana would still have difficulty in getting FDA approval due to the barriers that a Schedule I substance faces, which will be outlined in Part IV, meaning that no accepted medical use at the national level will likely happen any time soon.

There will still be the same continuing tension between state and federal law in regard to medical marijuana leaving many in doubt, particularly medical professionals, on whether they should participate in any state promoted medical marijuana program at the risk of violating federal law. Lastly, and most importantly in this context, there will be a continued inability for insurance companies to reimburse medical marijuana because of its status under the CSA, as many have indicated they will not cover it so long as the drug falls under the Schedule I category.

For the sake of making insurance available, it is clear that one of two things would need to happen, either rescheduling marijuana to another class on the CSA or removing it completely. Both solutions have their own benefits as well as drawbacks as sections C and D will examine. When considering rescheduling a drug, one will find that there can be a large difference for a drug even when moved from down from Schedule I to Schedule II and due to this and a balancing of other issues, this note will only examine rescheduling to Schedule II, rather than examine all the other options it may be moved to. It is first important to get a sense what it means to be a Schedule II substance, and why this scheduling would be the best option for medical marijuana.

Similar to a Schedule I drug, a substance on Schedule II means the drug is considered to have a high potential for abuse; the key difference between the two is that a Schedule II drug is considered to have a currently accepted medical use in the United States but does have the chance to create a physical dependence. Drugs currently labeled Schedule II substances include morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, and fentanyl. When a drug is labeled as a Schedule II substance, possession of that drug may still bring criminal charges for those who distribute the drug without permission and those who possess it without a prescription. Unlike Schedule I substances, doctors can legally write prescriptions for Schedule II drugs; however, it cannot be refilled, so a patient would need to get a new prescription each time the supply runs out.

As discussed above, the CSA allows the Attorney General to reschedule and remove drugs from the CSA if findings are made that the drug falls under the criteria for another schedule, and this process may be initiated by the Attorney General, the Secretary, or by petition of an interested third party. Since it is possible to reschedule marijuana to Schedule II, the next question is what some of the arguments that can be made in favor of following through on this process. These arguments center around four main ideas: the medical benefits of marijuana becoming more widely accepted; improve access to patients; rescheduling means the government can still criminalize improper use; and create greater possibilities for more testing of the drug.

Starting with the possibility for medical benefit, marijuana is becoming more and more accepted as a potential treatment as proof by its legalization in many of the states as well as other countries. The states which have legalized medical marijuana give legal support for the notion that marijuana has medical benefits. Marijuana has been found to be used for its medical benefits for thousands of years by various cultures, dating back to growth for use as herbal medicine likely starting in Asia around 500 BC. There have also been studies which have found therapeutic effects of marijuana include helping with nausea, chronic pain, epilepsy, depression, PTSD, and social anxiety. These growing opinions of marijuana’s medicinal use also play into the next point, which is rescheduling may improve access of the drug for patients who could benefit from it as a treatment. Official recognition of marijuana’s health benefits may remove the stigma attached by its Schedule I status, helping physicians who are unsure about the drug more willing to recommend it.

Another benefit to rescheduling, as opposed to removing marijuana from the CSA completely, is that the government could still regulate the drug in a way it could not if it was taken off the schedule completely, through criminalization. Rescheduling would allow Congress and pharmacies to have regulatory control on cannabis similar to other prescriptions. Additionally, distribution of the drug would remain illegal outside of approved channels, similar to street distribution of lower scheduled drugs such as Percocet, valium, etc. This shows that rescheduling presents a more balanced approach to the options explored in sections B and D, because the drug would be able to become gradually more used in society, but at a slower pace for those who are nervous about it.

Lastly, as will be discussed more in Part IV, rescheduling marijuana would open more possibilities for testing to better understand the drug. Currently, as a Schedule I drug, researchers go through long process just to get approval to conduct a clinical trial using marijuana. This creates different issues in slowing down the process, particularly for a drug like marijuana, which is unique in having a vast amount of strains though typically broken down into the three categories of Indica, Sativa, and hybrids between the two. Rescheduling would eliminate some of the difficulties created in testing marijuana, and would lead to quick, more efficient, and more variety to clinical research.

Rescheduling marijuana would bring several benefits, most of which are closely associated with the arguments outlined above. It would improve access for those who may benefit from marijuana as a treatment and create an easier process for clinical testing. There would still be criminal penalties for illegal use and distribution, giving more ease to the mind of those who feel the drug should not become completely legal. Most importantly for this note’s purpose, rescheduling would open up the possibility for insurance companies to cover the drug in their plans, similar to other Schedule II drugs, such as Adderall. The main drawback to this approach, at least for some, is that it is actually too slow compared to the next alternative, removing marijuana from the CSA completely, as it would not solve many of the criminal justice issues facing those who wish to use it recreationally.

The last of the options posed is also the most drastic of the three, though it is not one without its own merits of being viable. Many would argue that marijuana was wrongly placed on the CSA to begin with, hinged on the idea that it is not as dangerous as other Schedule I drugs, and placement was driven by racial animus more than anything. Beyond medicinal use, states are also becoming more open to recreational marijuana, many of which were pitched on the idea that marijuana is not any more harmful than alcohol. In total, ten states have fully legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Those who promote full legalization of marijuana often make an economic justification as much as anything else, both in stopping spending and in gaining new money. The United States spends millions of dollars on marijuana prohibition to questionable results, considering marijuana is still widely used. Legalization would turn this economic loss into a profit, with taxation potentially generating over three billion dollars per year. Evidence from the states have already shown the potential for economic gain in the United States. One study done by Colorado State University-

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Negative Impact of Marijuana Smoking on The Respiratory System. (2023, Feb 19). Retrieved from

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