Drugs are substances that interact with the bodies of living organisms through chemical processes (Katzung, 2012). The aim of drug administration can be to achieve a beneficial therapeutic effect on some organisms or toxic effects on other organisms. The incorporation of scientific attitudes in daily therapeutics is ongoing, while the medication-consuming public, unfortunately, still remains vulnerable to enormous levels of imprecise, incomplete, or irrational information on the consequences of chemicals (Katzung, 2012). There has also been a growing concern about the medical fraternity using drugs that are thought to have toxic effects on the management of certain conditions.
Marijuana is an example of a drug that the public estimation on its medicinal worth features sharp divisions. The drug is classified as a drug of abuse because most users consume it in ways that are not medically approved. The abuse of marijuana is associated with strong feelings of euphoria or altered perception. However, with continued use, it causes widespread adaptive changes in the brain that cause the bizarre behavior that is associated with addiction. The traits have been the hallmark of both ethical and legal concerns regarding the use of marijuana to provide relief with certain medical conditions. Unfortunately, most controversies on the use of medical marijuana do not have their basis in scientific knowledge.
Marijuana is an example of an exogenous cannabinoid (Katzung, 2012). The cannabinoid receptors that are found in the body play different roles in the normal human physiology because of its powerful psychoactive effects (Katzung, 2012). In addition, the drugs can also have certain effects that are independent of the main receptors. The varied effects of cannabinoids are what most studies have majored in using animal models to demonstrate how they can be selectively used to manage certain medical symptoms. Marijuana has a variety of potential therapeutic uses that can be applied and used in the medical field.
Different studies on the effects of marijuana have showed their latent therapeutic worth for problems such as pain, nausea and vomiting, and appetite losses (Janet, Stanley & Benson, 2009). Marijuana is less potent compared to most medications designed for the same therapeutic use. However, drug interactions are not the same in individuals because of differences in their genetic composition and state of health (Cooper, 2008). There are medications that can be less effective for one individual, but the drug of choice for another person. Owing to their slow onset of action and unreliability in most clinical trials, their use to manage the mentioned symptoms are rare.
Marijuana has different psychological effects which can be applied therapeutically. It comprises of several pharmacologically active substances including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which causes disinhibition of dopamine receptors that are stimulatory (Katzung, 2012). The most prominent effects of THC are euphoria and relaxation (Cooper, 2008). Users also report feelings of well-being, grandiosity, and altered perception of the passage of time (Cooper, 2008). These effects are potentially objectionable for certain users and circumstances, while beneficial among others. Therefore, medically approved doses have been used in certain individuals for management of some symptoms.
Controversies have mainly been based on the adverse effects of marijuana. Just like other drugs, it has a therapeutic index, which doses that are above or below the index, are associated with adverse effects. For the main population, the chief adverse outcome of acute marijuana use is diminished psychomotor performance (Brunner & Suddarth, 2010). Chronic use of marijuana is associated with adverse effects of chronic smoking, and the effects of THC. Smoking marijuana is associated with problems like increased risk of developing cancer, respiratory problems and teratogenic effects. On the other hand, THC can have effects like hallucinations, depersonalization and frank psychotic episodes (Katzung, 2012). In addition, chronic exposure to marijuana can lead to dependence that is revealed by a distinctive but mild and a short-lived withdrawal syndrome (Katzung, 2012).
Marijuana has not been exempted from the controversial subjects that are misconstrued and misrepresented. Nurses have a crucial role in drug administration and should understand and demonstrate the basic competencies of medication provision (Brunner & Suddarth, 2010). The use of medical marijuana is not a common practice, but nurses should have the facts behind its use to avoid myths that have no scientific basis. However, patients also have their rights which, when violated, can lead to legal action. In the case of any prescription by a competent physician, nurses should ensure the correct dose; route and time of administration are observed (Brunner & Suddarth, 2010). In addition, they should be available to monitor the patient for any adverse drug interactions to avoid being sued.
The use of medical marijuana has both strengths and limitations. It should not be eradicated because there can never be any perfect drug. Instead, research should continue into the physiological effects of marijuana before it is banned in medical practice (Janet, Stanley & Benson, 2009). In addition, clinical trials can be used to advance on the strengths in order to make it have a rapid onset of action and make it more reliable and safe for administration (Janet, Stanley & Benson, 2009).
Brunner, & Suddarth. (2010). Textbook of Medical Surgical Nursing. Philadephia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Cooper, R. (2008). Therapeutic Use of Marijuana and Health: The Legal Framework. Food Drug Cosmetic Law Journal, 45: 68-82.
Janet E., Stanley J., & Benson, J. A. (2009). Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing The Science Base. Wahington, D.C: National Academy Press.
Katzung, B. G. (2012). Basic and Clinical Pharmacology. San Francisco: Mc Graw-Hill Companies.