Everywhere you look these days marijuana is being legalized and praised. Whether it's for medicinal or recreational purposes, states have been legalizing in quick succession over the last few years.
Most recently, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C. all have policy makers who are pushing for legalization by the end of 2017.
Medicinal marijuana isn't without its benefits: It can be used to treat glaucoma, may help reverse the effects of long-term tobacco use (and therefore improve lung function), it can control epileptic seizures, stop cancer from spreading, decrease anxiety, and so much more.
But here's my unpopular opinion: I don't think marijuana is the miracle drug everyone claims it is. I think that the actual benefits are shadowed by the belief that there even are benefits.
While I think that there are a ton of incredible uses for medicinal marijuana, I also believe that the prescription drugs that have been developed by the "evil" Big Pharma aren't as disastrous and dangerous as they're made out to be. Trust me, I dislike Big Pharma as much as the next guy, but there are tons of cogs in that machine who truly care about the people they're developing drugs for.
I'm not the only one who has this view. Penny Whiting and her colleagues did a study analyzing 79 randomized trials over the medical effects of medical marijuana, and found that "most of the studies showed improvements among the participants taking the cannabinoid products over those using placebo, but in many, the scientists admitted that they could not be sure that the effect wasn’t simply due to chance since the association was not statistically significant."
This is concerning on its own, as the claims being made by marijuana activists aren't necessarily accurate.
This is what concerns me as someone who is going into the medical field. The rhetoric of activists is that anything produced by Big Pharma is toxic and dangerous, while marijuana is natural and will be better than anything Big Pharma produces.
This rhetoric is so incredibly dangerous. There are going to be people who drop the medications they HAVE TO HAVE for illnesses they cannot control in favor of something that is "natural" like marijuana (spoiler alert: it isn't always natural).
I know Big Pharma has done a lot of questionable and horrible things, but they have also produced life-saving things, such as insulin, chemotherapy, and beta blockers; the list goes on.
I worry that as marijuana becomes legalized across the country (and it will, eventually) public health will suffer rather than thrive. More people are going to suffer rather than there be this incredible medical revival that activists are claiming.