40 years ago it went without question. Marijuana is dangerous; it’s addictive and poses many risks to the users. But now, as new studies reveal its many medicinal benefits, many people are changing their minds about marijuana. What was once viewed as a danger, is now being considered a treatment option for many disorders, including MS, Autism, and PTSD. Some researchers have even gone as far to suggest this drug would be beneficial in treating addictive diseases, such as opioid addiction. Although it should be obvious that treating one addiction with another is foolish, but nevertheless, many are now advocating for it.
After the 2016 Election, many states passed the legalization of marijuana in some form, either for recreational or medicinal purposes. This past June, The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced 27 companies that will soon be permitted to sell medical marijuana throughout the Commonwealth. So, where is this exactly taking place, and what could it mean for a state that has been plagued by addiction?
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Throughout Pennsylvania
New reports tell us that medical marijuana will be available in Pennsylvania as early as 2018. As 27 companies have been permitted to sell the drug, each is allowed to open 3 storefront dispensary sites in different counties. Nevertheless, some applicants have chosen not to ask for additional sites. Currently, 52 dispensaries are expected to open sometime next year. April Hutcheson, spokeswoman for the state Health Department told the Inquirer, “This is only the start of the program, and we’re moving quickly to getting medication to the public. As we need to grow, we can. They still have the ability to open up more locations.”
Each applicant was required to pay $5,000 to apply for a dispensary permit, along with a $30,000 deposit for each storefront. That deposit was only refundable to failed bidders. While that price tag may seem pretty pricey, according industry experts, each permit is worth anywhere between $10 and $20 million, depending on the dispensary’s location and customer base.
The dispensaries are intended to operate similar to pharmacies, but they would only sell one medication: cannabis oils. Furthermore, in order to receive a medical ID card from a physician, a patient must be suffering from one or more of 17 qualifying conditions and it will be only these individuals who are permitted to enter a dispensary location. And lastly, every owner and operator is forbidden to sell edible, whole-plant, or flower products. Patients have the ability to vaporize cannabis oils or consume them in a solution. Locations vary throughout the state, but many will be found in major cities including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Williamsport, Reading, and Allentown. Additionally, 3 are scheduled to open in Northeastern Pennsylvania, including one in Scranton, one in Wilkes Barre, and a final location in Edwardsville.
The Negative Side To Medical Marijuana
While medicinal marijuana has some clear beneficial qualities is certain circumstances, there are various negative factors that simply cannot be ignored. Let’s take a look at some of those points.
Marijuana Can Be Harmful To Cognition
The use of marijuana can have both acute and long-term effects on an individual’s cognitive functioning. According to a study performed by Rebecca Crean, Ph.D., cannabis use can have acute effects on executive functioning, including increased impulsivity and risk-taking, as well as decreased working memory.
In regards to long-term cognitive effects, heavy marijuana users show deficits in planning, concept formations, and decision making.
The Potential For Abuse & Addiction
The National Institute on Drug Abuse tells us that in 2015, 4 million Americans met the diagnostic criteria for marijuana use disorder. But, of those, only 138,000 sought treatment for their addictive disorder. This demonstrates how many individuals still need help for marijuana addiction. Some may wonder, what does this have to do with medical marijuana, since it is properly regulated? Think of it this way: prescription opioids were “properly regulated,” and yet, they continuously fell into the wrong hands. If OxyContin has the ability to find its way onto the black market, so does medicinal marijuana.
A Ticking Time Bomb?
There is no question that medical marijuana is less harmful than drugs such as prescription opioids. Nevertheless, our history shows us that by relying on medications to answer a problem, we dig ourselves deeper into a hole. Just as heroin was originally synthesized to treat morphine addiction, and OxyContin was formulated to address the issue of chronic pain. Where did we find ourselves with those solutions? How many times do we need to test this theory?
Furthermore, there are clear indicators that marijuana is a gateway drug. The National Institute on Drug Abuse tells us that in 70.3% of cases, it was the first substance addicts experimented with. What’s more, individuals who become addicted to marijuana are 3 times more likely to become addicted to heroin. Again, some may argue that these numbers shouldn’t be considered when speaking of medical marijuana, but it’s all relative. It’s starts with medical marijuana, and then in a few years, recreational use will pass into law.
It’s simple. By making marijuana more readily available, whether it be through medicinal or recreational legalization, it will surely pose a problem to the addicted community. While it may take some time to turn into a real issue, it took over a decade for opioid addiction to turn into an epidemic.
Contact Clearbrook Today
If you or someone you know and love is currently struggling with addiction, we can help. For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing quality treatment to the chemically dependent person and offering educational services to the affected family unit.
If you are tired of being a hostage to your addiction, please contact our Admissions Specialists today. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have.