Instigator / Pro

Cannabis is not risk free and is not special in terms of its medical applicability.


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I am a fan of cannabis, I am a fan of all drugs. I think all of them should be legalized. However I’ve noticed an issue in the cannabis crowd. They refuse to believe the facts surrounding the risks of cannabis use, and this is making legalization harder. They beat the drums of safety and medical application, but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence that it especially useful outside a few niche situations. All drugs are like that.
Opioids are far more effective for cancer pains, cocaine is far more useful as a topical pain killer. However each drug has their own lists of medical applicability and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Cannabis can’t treat ADHD near as well as amphetamines, it can’t treat depression as well as ketamine and psychedelics. It can’t treat obesity at all. It can’t treat narcolepsy at all. It can’t treat many things that other drugs can.
Medical potential should not be the focus of legalization or even an excuse to using cannabis. We shouldn’t need an excuse, we should be free to do any drug. However, lying and pushing straight up false hoods about cannabis makes that hope a much harder thing to conceive. It should be about freedom, not about safety or medical potential.
My point behind this debate is not bismirch cannabis or cannabis users, but rather to strengthen the argument of legalization by being honest and educating people.

Round 1
I am not very good at starting arguments, so this will probably be my weakest argument. 

I would like to state clearly that I am not anti weed. I am a proponent of legalizing all drugs from PCP and heroin to Cannabis. The point of this debate is to hopefully shine light on some of the risks cannabis use has and to strengthen the argument of legalization. 

The reason I think cannabis users believe cannabis is so risk free is actually because it’s illegal. It is extremely difficult to do human studies with schedule 1 substances, it’s even difficult to do animal trials with these drugs. There hasn’t been much literature written about the risks of cannabis use because many scientists don’t want to jump through the endless amount of hoops to actually do research on it legally. This has lead to under reporting on the issues of cannabis use and an over reporting of the benefits by people on Reddit, and similar sites, who have little evidence outside of anecdotal self reports to back up their claims. 

I’ll start with a list of risks and evidence for the risks. 

Inflammation of arteries surrounding the heart.

“The researchers analyzed the genetic and medical data of about 500,000 people ages 40-69. The data was from the UK Biobank. Nearly 35,000 participants reported smoking cannabis; of those, about 11,000 smoked more than once a month. The more-than-monthly smokers were significantly more likely than others in the study to have a heart attack after controlling for other factors including age, body mass index and sex. The researchers found that frequent marijuana smokers were also more likely than nonusers to have their first heart attack before the age of 50 — an unusual medical event called a premature heart attack that increases a person’s lifelong risk of subsequent heart attack, heart failure and life-threatening arrhythmias that can cause sudden death.” 

Now admittedly this particular study does not cover all variables. 

“Inflammation of the blood vessels is a primary hallmark of atherosclerosis — the thickening of the vessel wall due to the buildup of plaques made up of fats, cholesterol and other substances — which can lead to heart attack. The researchers found that the levels of inflammatory molecules in the blood of volunteers who smoked a marijuana cigarette increased significantly over the subsequent three hours. They further showed that THC promotes inflammation and hallmarks of atherosclerosis in human endothelial cells grown in the laboratory. Finally, laboratory mice bred to have high cholesterol levels and fed a high-fat diet developed significantly larger atherosclerosis plaques when injected with THC at levels comparable to smoking one marijuana cigarette per day than did control animals.” 

This is a major risk that needs to be discussed. 

Major risk number 2: Improper firing of the CB1 receptor after repeated use of cannabis. 

This is one that I’ve never heard talked about by cannabis users. Improper firing of the CB1 receptor has a direct link to obesity, even in people who do not smoke cannabis. There is a lot of evidence that repeated use of cannabis can cause this improper firing to happen, even after the use has been stopped. 

There has been a search of sorts for CB1 antagonists which effectively block the receptors (THC partially agonizes the CB1 and CB2 receptors) to counter act these negative effects of improper firing. But almost all of the drugs we’ve found so far caused anxiety and insomnia and a lot of other undesirable effects in the treatment of obesity. However there’s a naturally occurring molecule called genistein in soy beans that is the most effective answer as of now. It blocks the CB1 receptors all over the body, except for in the brain. 99% of the molecules infested do not break the blood brain barrier and tests on rats have shown it does not change there cannabis experience. So there is a potential treatment for this particular issue, but that doesn’t mean the issue doesn’t exist.

There is also the risk of addiction. This is a hot button issue for some reason. I’m not sure how much you know about pharmacology so I’m going to break this down pretty simply. All psychoactive drugs have to have affinity with receptors that can cause changes in the chemical output of our brains and bodies. There are three main types of affinity when it comes to drugs, there are more complicated ones but that’s not useful for this debate. There are agonists, partial agonists, and antagonists. Agonists mean the substance binds to the said receptor and fully activates it. Partial agonism means they bind to the receptor but do not activate it as powerfully as agonists do. Antagonists mean they block the receptor. 

All drugs that fully agonizes any receptor have the same addiction potential. Alcohol agonizes the GABAa receptors and a few subtypes, heroin agonizes the Mu-opioid receptor, K2 and AB-Phubenica agonizes the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Alcohol is not more addictive than heroin and K2 isn’t more addictive than heroin or alcohol. 

By that same token partial agonists are less addictive than full agonists, but still can cause addiction and still have dependence potential. They can also be more potent than full agonists. Mitragynine, for example, is an opioid more potent than heroin, but has the same addiction potential as cannabis. There is nothing especially addictive about the opioid system, there’s also nothing especially non addictive about the cannabinoid system. 

Cannabis can cause physical withdrawals, that alone doesn’t mean the drug is addictive, but it’s a piece to the puzzle. 

To be diagnosed with Substance Use disorder the user has to meet certain criteria. They have to have tried quit and couldn’t, they face withdrawals when quitting. AND the drug use must be disrupting their personal, professional, or emotional lives. With all of that said, it’s obvious there are some people who struggle from Cannabis addiction. That doesn’t mean the addiction is as dangerous or toxic to them as something like Methamphetamine or ketamine, but it isn’t something that should be ignored. 

“Abstinence following daily marijuana use can produce a withdrawal syndrome characterized by negative mood (eg irritability, anxiety, misery), muscle pain, chills, and decreased food intake.” - Marijuana Withdrawal in Humans: Effects of Oral THC or Divalproex written by Dr. Carl Hart who is a proponent of full legalization as well. He’s not anti weed. He’s a professor of pharmacology and psychology and the university of Cambridge and is an open heroin user among other drugs. 

lastly I’ll quickly touch on the medical applicability part. 

Sure cannabis can treat a lot of things, no one should deny that. However, that isn’t surprising, all drugs have a list of things they treat. All drugs have their own benefits, which is why people recreationally use all drugs and why all drugs are prescribed medically in one form or another. 

Morphine for example is used in hospitals all over the world to treat things no other drug can treat as effectively. Morphine is basically heroin, heroin itself is diacetylmorphine. Which means there are acetyl bonds in place of the hydroxyl bonds in the top and bottom left of the molecule. That description will depend on the orientation of the depiction of the molecule, that is based off of PubChems orientation. This makes the molecule more polar and more potent. Desoxyn is the name brand for methamphetamine and it is still prescribed today to treat obesity and ADHD. As are Amphetamine based stimulants like methylphenidate. Cocaine is still used in eye surgeries because of its topical pain killing properties. Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist and is used as a general anesthetic and anti depressant. It is far more effective than cannabis for depression, and infinitely more effective as an anesthetic. Btw ketamine is basically PCP. PCP was also used medicinally for the exact same purposes but it was slightly too potent and toxic to be manageable and we created ketamine. 

Opioids are far more effective for treating pain of any kind. Cancer pains, nerve pain, inflammation pain, etc. opioids are also arguably just as safe as cannabis toxicologically. If taken responsibly the risks of opioids are very low. Constipation is usually the worst side effect. Obviously they can kill you if taken improperly or mixed irresponsibly with other substances, which makes them more dangerous to abuse, but not to use. 

This doesn’t mean cannabis doesn’t have medical uses, because it treats things like epilepsy and other CNS issues very effectively where most other psychoactive drugs fall short. This argument isn’t to say cannabis has no medical application. Instead it’s to say that at the end of the day cannabis is just another drug and really isn’t anything special in terms of effects or medical potential. 

Lastly, I love cannabis, I don’t use it anymore because I get drug tested and I started to not snot the experience. I am a huge supporter of legalization. I just believe there is a lot of funny business and that the cannabis crowd is using the wrong arguments for legalization. It isn’t about medical benefits, or safety. It is about freedom. That is where the focus needs to be. Because as soon as people point out it does have risks, and if it’s not as medically applicable as one though, they’re argument immediately gets weaker. It’s not about safety, it’s about freedom. That’s the argument I’m trying to make ultimately in this debate. 
Round 2
Vote pro. 
Round 3
Vote pro.
Round 4
Vote pro. 
Round 5
Vote pro.