Legalizing Cannabis?

by Patrick Liew on September 14, 2019

Legalizing Cannabis?

In recent years, there has been a major change of attitudes towards cannabis.

As a result, some countries have legalized the use of cannabis for medical treatment and in some cases, for recreational purpose.

The cannabis trade has become a multi-billion dollar business.

In Singapore, there are isolated voices appealing to the authorities to legalize cannabis.

To make a better informed decision, it’s important to get the facts right.

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, has many other names.

It can be consumed in many ways, including smoking, vaping, gravity bong, dabbing, oral ingestion, sprays, or direct consumption of an extract.

Consuming cannabis can cause physical and mental effects, including getting “high” or “stoned”.

These effects refer to major changes in moods and perceptions.

Side effects include red eyes, dry mouth, impaired motor skills, and feelings of anxiety, paranoia or panic.

Long-term side effects may include addictions and impairment of attention, mental ability, and memory as well as increased risk of accidents.

If consumed on a long-term basis, cannabis can cause physical, mental, behavioral and social health consequences, including affecting health of the liver, lungs and heart.

Studies have shown that it’s not cannabis but cannabinoids that have potential use for some medical treatments.

Cannabinoids are found in Cannabis sativa (C. sativa) which is a plant with psychoactive properties.

So far, 144 cannabinoids have been found in C. sativa.

For example, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the best known cannabinoids that can cause its consumers to get high.

Another cannabinoid known as cannabidiol (CBD); which does not have psychoactive properties and therefore cannot cause a high, has been used as a food addictive and supplement.

Cannabinoids operate in a similar way to molecules produced by the human body known as endocannabinoids.

Both plant and human versions of the molecules can activate a wide network of receptors in the human brain and body to generate different reactions.

These reactions can affect memory, moods, sleep, appetite, stress and pain.

Some clinical studies have supported the efficacy of some cannabinoids in the treatment of a range of conditions, including nausea induced by chemotherapy, muscle pain in multiple sclerosis, chronic pain in adults, and treatment-resistant epilepsy.

Having said that, consuming cannabis can become addictive, and it may potentially cause psychosis if it is taken in high doses with high-strength strains and on a long-term basis.

If medical cannabis is legalized, it may open the door for its recreational use.

For example, when an athlete starts to smoke cannabis to relieve pain, cannabis will become a part of the community and society.

Ease of access will make it likely for abuse and it may lead to other social problems, including increase in crimes to support addictions.

Initiatives to legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational use will cause the breakdown of international drug treaties which in turn will affect international law.

Countries that legalize cannabis will have to withdraw from international conventions or convince the other countries in the global community to craft a new set of treaties and laws.

Currently, there is no major drive to understand implications of such changes and solutions to resolve potential fallouts.

Many countries are strongly opposed to reforming their laws to allow sales and use of cannabis.

Singapore should join these countries and continue to adopt a strong stand against cannabis.

To change our position, we need to prove without a shadow of doubt that the use of cannabis can achieve greater good for our people and society.

And validate benefits of consuming cannabis, if any, and develop ways to eradicate resulting risks and downsides of legalizing cannabis.

 

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