Researching on a case study for my Ethic class, I came across “Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act” or House Bill 4477. Out of curiosity, I made a survey from five friends of different background. I asked a doctor from Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO), a priest, a mother, a student and a pediatrician on their stand on legalizing the growing and distributing of marijuana in whatever form for medical purposes. My question aims to see if a particular stand differs depending on whose viewpoint we are looking at. Of the five respondents, the priest declined to reply stating that “there are new developments now on views on use of marijuana. They are considered medicinal in some countries. I am not adept with recent developments and thus I cannot comment.” I respect his response. I do not want to analyze it further or to insinuate that this is more of a legal stand than a moral issue. Though what is surprising for me is the consistency of all remaining respondents. All four agreed that for MEDICAL PURPOSES it is acceptable. However it is not absolute, it is on the condition that it will be well-regulated, strictly monitored, properly controlled and purely for medical purposes.
One of the respondent states that it should be “administered properly by a physician”, another respondent gave an almost the same requirement “only when monitored by specialized staff and when inside a facility built specifically for that purpose.” To same accord, I agree with them but my sentiments lies more on what one of the doctors said, on provision that “it will help the patient live a normal life, AFTER exhausting all other means.” However it is the implementation that I am afraid of.
I am not an expert in this field and I will not pretend to be. What I know, I just read from articles in the internet and I am not even sure if all are reliable source for an argument. But I would like to understand and explore reasons for banning the use of Marijuana. Searching the internet, there are two major reasons why it is banned –one is because it is addictive and second because it is immoral.
It is illegal because a long-term or abusive use of marijuana can be harmful to a person’s health and well-being. Smoking or eating marijuana allows the chemical Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (and any other chemicals present) to enter into the bloodstream and eventually target the brain of the user (www.drugabuse.gov). Its effect varies with dose, route of administration, experience of user, vulnerability to psychoactive effects, and setting of use. At recreational doses, effects include relaxation, euphoria, relaxed inhibitions, sense of well-being, disorientation, altered time and space perception, lack of concentration, impaired learning and memory, alterations in thought formation and expression, drowsiness, sedation, mood changes such as panic reactions and paranoia, and a more vivid sense of taste, sight, smell, and hearing. Stronger doses intensify reactions and may cause fluctuating emotions, flights of fragmentary thoughts with disturbed associations, a dulling of attention despite an illusion of heightened insight, image distortion, and psychosis (www.one.nhtsa.gov). To my non-medical educated mind, all these means I have lose control over my thoughts and emotions – that is scary!
It is immoral because the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says that “Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.” The teaching further states that the “virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine…” The abusive use of marijuana desecrates the sacredness of the man’s body and soul. It also diminishes man’s capacity to think, to reason and to decide on his own. Without that capacity, then what will separates man from animals.
Comparing the benefits and possible harm, I agree that medically it is advantageous to legalize the growing and distribution, but I am not convinced they can regulate it. How certain are we that the president will appoint the right person as head of Medical Cannabis Regulatory Authority? How can we guaranty that those given permission will not take advantage of the privilege given to them? How can we ensure that it will not be made available to those who will use it for recreational purposes? Sad to say, in a country such as ours, where it is easy to bribe a law enforcer and where crimes solution is only 36.67% (www.senate.gov.ph), I have my doubts. I understand they have their right for affordable medication, but as long as they cannot guaranty with certainty the regulation and control of distribution and use of marijuana, it is better left at status quo- illegal.
picture from Marijuana Leaf Art Psychedelic Pot Leaf by SagittariusGallery