Ahh, weed. Mary Jane. Bud. Grass. Dare I say... broccoli? This wonder plant with more strange names than the Kardashian's children is more popular than ever before, and this just may be a great thing for several people. When people think of marijuana, they may automatically picture some long-haired teen on a skateboard with a blunt in his hand near some street corner. This stereotype has led to many negative misconceptions about the drug. Marijuana can be ingested through smoking, vapor, edibles, concentrates and several other methods, such as topicals.

So, for those who jump to the conclusion that anyone who consumes marijuana is going to end up with poorly functioning lungs, think again.

It's a no-brainer that medical marijuana has helped many people suffering from numerous different diseases and disorders, such as anxiety, cancer, chronic pain, Crohn's disease, HIV, glaucoma and arthritis. Marijuana is currently legalized in 32 states for medical purposes and in 10 states for recreational purposes. One of the biggest reasons we should advocate for medical marijuana's complete legalization is its proven benefits with chemotherapy patients. Now, there is no cure for cancer (yet). However, if we can take even an ounce of the pain away from a young leukemia patient, shouldn't we? Even CBD, marijuana's non-psychoactive component, has been proven to greatly benefit several different diseases and disorders. You can find CBD in many forms including oil, crystals, wax, isolate and e-liquids.

If not for your own personal enjoyment or relief, think about how marijuana affects the economy. Take Colorado for example. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, by 2017, recreational marijuana sales had reached $1.1 billion, and medical marijuana sales were close to $417 million. In total, it was around $1.5 billion just for 2017. Since then, sales have been continuing to increase, leading to a highly successful economy for the state, but it's not just Colorado. Several states who have gone through with the legalization of the drug for medical purposes alone have seen nothing but success.

Some of the biggest concerns that our citizens have for marijuana legalization, whether it be medical or recreational, include addiction, laziness and its side effects. Think about something that isn't brought up too often: prescriptions that are given to patients are just as likely to start an addiction, and they have their fair share of side effects as well. Prescription painkillers can strongly affect the body in a negative way. They can provide the brain with feelings of pleasure, which may sound great to a patient in pain. However, taking a painkiller as simple as an aspirin can lead to indigestion, stomach ulcers and kidney damage.

For cancer patients, the cons get a lot worse. They are given highly addictive opioids such as morphine, codeine or fentanyl, just to name a few. Some of the side effects of these can include drowsiness, nausea and constipation. The thing about it is, these drugs really do take the pain away, and some patients can get really hooked on the painless feeling. Prescription drug abuse is real and serious, but it seems to be shoved under the rug when it comes to talking about medical marijuana.

The key comparison between the two really comes down to the term "overdose." Look up medical marijuana and one thing may stand out: you cannot technically overdose. Not a single person has died from an overdose of this natural drug. However, in 2017, there were over 200 deaths a day due to opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now let's address addiction a little more. Many physician's offices are considering mandatory counseling for patients about the risks of marijuana addiction and national programs about public health education to reach those who may not even use the drug but may have family members or friends that do. Anything can become addictive, technically, whether it be something as major as nicotine or alcohol, or something that's seemingly minor such as that can of pop you can't seem to put down or watching television.

Now, back to nicotine. In 2016, an estimated 37.8 million US adults smoked cigarettes. Many are smoking around two packs a day. Now, this is one addictive chemical that can really mess you up. Less than 10 percent of smokers a year are able to successfully give up nicotine entirely. Plus, the effect it has on your organs is intense. For example: greatly increased risk for lung cancer. (Who wants that?) Yet, it's still entirely legal and seems to be hardly questioned as much as medical marijuana. Interesting.

Medical marijuana doesn't seem so bad now, does it? Of course, it's going to have its side effects, everything does. However, if we can effectively find a way to educate its users on how to not abuse it, then I have hope for its success and its capability of improving the lives of many. We all may know someone who is suffering from something, so let's support medical marijuana for them, if not for ourselves. Let's better the quality of life for millions. Let's support the complete legalization of this miraculous plant.