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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Weeding out what works


The stigma and benefits of medical marijuana

Growing up, I was taught in school that marijuana was a “scary drug” and it was never a good idea to use it. This philosophy stayed with me for all of high school and into college.

I never wanted to try weed and never did. This very strong distrust of weed was assuaged, however,  when I learnt of the possible medicinal benefits of marijuana.

I am afflicted with Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disease where my body attacks itself with painful ulcers throughout my intestines. I have had Crohn’s for eight years.

During this time of discomfort and pain, I have tried numerous medications, including self-injections of potent prescribed drugs and surgery, with very little relief.

When I heard about medical marijuana and the life changing effects it could have on Crohn’s patients, I was intrigued.

In a recent Israeli study conducted by Meir Medical Center and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, it was reported that there was enough evidence to suggest that the use of cannabis can alleviate and sometimes even eradicate symptoms in people with an inflammatory bowel disorder, such as Crohn’s.

The study’s data showed that 45 percent of the patients who used THC cannabis actually reached remission at the end of the experiment.

Not only might medical marijuana be more effective than traditional Crohn’s medications, but it is also less harmful to the body than steroids or other immune system suppressors. After taking intensive and serious medications for eight years, there is something appealing about a medication that is more natural and holistic.

Realistically, I know that just like any other substance, marijuana can be abused. States are taking this possible misuse into account. Pennsylvania, for example, has regulations in place to minimize the risk of this type of medication being misused.

Despite these regulations created by state government and medical marijuana’s potential for treating Crohn’s and a host of other disorders as well as the industry’s promising research supporting its effectiveness, there is still a stigma surrounding marijuana, even in a medicinal capacity.

The government’s attitudes, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ in particular, are a clear example of what this stigma around marijuana does and what kind of thinking it perpetuates.

Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice have continually stifled attempts to expand the availability of cannabis and cannabis-derived treatments, even for medical research. It seems though that Congress is trying to combat Session’s attempts with a recently updated a bill that extends protection to states that implement their own medical marijuana laws and bars the Department of Justice from interfering in these state decisions.

My question is, how do we remove the stigma around marijuana, especially its use for medical purposes?

I think one way to remove the stigma is for those who have experienced the benefits of medical marijuana first-hand to advocate for its greater acceptance and access.

It is difficult to provide education on medical marijuana unless those in power hear from those in need.

If you know someone who has been helped by, or could be helped by medical marijuana, or think it should be more accessible, then reach out to your local representatives and make your voice heard.

Raising awareness is also extremely vital. There needs to be a concerted effort to promote the positive impacts that medical marijuana has on patients’ lives. For example, not many people know that there are children suffering from epilepsy who experiencince in excess of 100 seizures a day.

When treated with medical marijuana, these children now experience less than five seizures per week.

There are people living with Parkinson’s disease who can now feel a sense of normalcy and control over their bodies thanks to medical marijuana.

There are patients like me suffering from non-visible, chronic disorders who are starting to feel hope that a life of pain is not the only option, all because of the holistic and under-appreciated effects of medical marijuana.

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