Research Ethics and Medical Marijuana

Research ethics is specifically interested in the analysis of ethical issues that are raised when people are involved as participants in research. It is research that involves human subjects or participants raises unique and complex ethical, legal, social, and political issues. The primarily important part of ethics is to protect their participants. The second objective is to ensure that research is conducted in a way that serves interests of individuals.

The researcher may come across many ethical issues surrounding their project It could be risky talking about some issues as some people may not be as open to discussion or they could be sensitive issues that they may find hard to talk about especially if it is a sensitive topic they are researching. The researcher must preserve academic integrity and remain honest throughout their research.

The researcher must be compliant with the laws, they can do this by having a clear understanding of which law fit into the category of ethical issues and apply them within their research.

The researcher may also need to consider whilst carrying out their research; data protection, this is keeping all their information confidential and not sharing it with anyone, also keeping it safe and secure so no one can access their files openly, it also states in the data protection act is that individuals have legal rights to control information about themselves, the researcher must take this into account as well. They can set this up by using a four-digit pin number that the participant chooses at the beginning of the researchers interviewing process to help keep their date as secure as possible. They may also consider the equality act which protects an individual from discrimination which comes in many forms such as, age, race, religion, gender and many more. The researcher must not be judgemental and show integrity for the participant when carrying out their research. The researcher should also gain informed consent from the participant with the full knowledge of the research that will be undertaken and the possible consequences that may occur after it has taken place, i.e. if it is a sensitive interview then the researcher must offer some telephone numbers of someone they can talk to just in case it causes them distress or upset.

The researcher must consider that the participant may want to withdraw from their interview at any time and must outline to the participant that they have a right to withdraw during the interview.

The researcher should perform effective communication by being non-judgmental and to not make the other person become offended, the researcher should listen to what the other person is saying although they may not agree, the researcher should give their participants their email address for any queries or questions they may have or any relevant information they may need following answering the researcher’s questions. Performing effective communication is essential for building and improving a working relationship with their participants so that they both feel comfortable with the subject they are discussing.

The method that was used in the researcher project was snowballing as they sent it to their participants and who then shared it amongst others, so the researcher received a lot of data in a short amount of time. The research sent their primary research to their selected participants who then forwarded it on to numerous participants.

The researcher has gathered a lot of information in their primary research by sharing on social media. As there isn’t a lot of data from the U.K the researcher has had to use American statistics and gather some of their information from America too.

The researcher used secondary data from many sources on the internet from America. The researcher must evaluate qualitative and quantitative data and compare. The best type of research is a wide range of different methods to carry out triangulation which ensures validation and reliability.

Introduction

Marijuana is a drug which is made from dried leaves from the flowering tops of a plant called Hemp. The medical term for this is Cannabis sativa. Medical marijuana is the use of the whole cannabis plant to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions. (Wikipedia)

It acts on several areas of the brain involved with memory, concentration, perception, and movement. According to research when a person inhales marijuana smoke, 2,000 chemicals are distributed by the lungs throughout the whole body. In high doses of the drug, marijuana can cause reduced memory, delusions, disorientation, and hallucinations. (ABC News, ND)

There are two types of marijuana one being CBD. The medical term for this is Cannabidiol. It is one of at least 113 active cannabinoids identified in cannabis. It is a major Phyto cannabinoid, accounting for up to 40% of the plant’s extract. This is the main one that individuals use to alleviate symptoms of diseases and illnesses.

The other organic material found in marijuana is called THC, it is the active ingredient in cannabis and this is called tetrahydrocannabinol. This is the main form that binds to the brain cells called cannabinoid receptors. The cannabinoid receptors are string like proteins which weave themselves onto the exteriors of the cells all over your body. (Bach Huber MA et el, 1999-2010)

Some people state that medical marijuana should be legalised in the U.K as the treatment for some severe illnesses and diseases, which can alleviate some of the debilitating symptoms. It is legalised in some U.S states for medicinal purposes. 5% of people from California report that they have used marijuana to help with their serious ailments.

Oregon in the U.S was one of the first states to pass laws allowing people to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, but the supreme courts have in effect exercised authority in those states. 5,582 U.S patients received a physician certificate for medical marijuana this month (October 2017.) Some of the illnesses and diseases are, Epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Cancer, ADHD, Nerve pain, Crohn’s disease, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Arthritic pain, Exercise induced asthma, Chronic pain, Multiple sclerosis. There are more clinical uses for medical marijuana which are, Appetite loss, eating disorders, Muscle spasms and Wasting syndrome.

Some arguments why medical marijuana should be legalised are as follows.

Cannabinoids which is the active ingredient in marijuana has been shown in animal studies to destroy tumours and reduce tumour growth in some cancers. Marijuana works to avert Alzheimer’s by obstructing the formation of something called the beta amyloid plaques that can cause the Alzheimer’s disease according to recent research in 2006 from the Scripps institute. Marijuana is a muscle relaxant and an antispasmodic and has shown to be a very active treatment for many types of seizures. Doctors in the Californian state of America reported that they have positively treated more than 300,000 patients who have complained of migraines for whom normal medication could give them no pain relief since medical marijuana was legal in that state. Marijuana can stop the neurological effects and muscle spasms of the debilitating disease Multiple sclerosis

Medical marijuana has shown to alleviate the symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease, ceasing nausea, cramping, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain. Marijuana can block the symptoms of cramping related to PMS much like it helps with the digestive issues that I have listed above. Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optical nerve that can cause blindness. Extensive research for the use of medical marijuana for this disease has shown that marijuana can reduce the pressure in the eye, it relieves pain and some research shows it can reverse the effects.

Grimace, tics, and involuntary movements categorize a condition of the brain namely Tourette’s syndrome, Marijuana has been shown to minimise or even eradicate the spasms. Medical marijuana has been shown to help with some of the anger and hyper symptoms of ADHD and is as effective as the medicine the doctors prescribe for this condition which is called Ritalin, without any negative side effects related with the drug. Medical marijuana can help with seizures and can help to relieve some of symptoms of hard to treat epilepsy. A type of medical marijuana called charlottes web may help children without giving them the THC high. Charlottes web is a high cannabinoid but very low in THC. More research is needed and is taking place for the use in cancer treatments as well as its uses to treat PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) 92% of medical marijuana patients say that medical marijuana alleviated symptoms of their medical condition. (Statistic Brain, 2017) According to a study in the new England journal of medicine that was published in 2013, 8 out of 10 doctors approve the use of medical marijuana. Patients say it help with their serious health ailments (trendstatistics, ND) 76% of doctors throughout the world approve the use of medical marijuana. (WebMD, ND)

The smoking of medical marijuana has been the most studied for the therapeutic effects relating to its capability to decrease chronic pain, nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy and tight and stiff muscles from multiple sclerosis. 1.3 million Americans use marijuana every day. (WebMD, ND)

There have been some early scientific trials of cannabinoids in the treatment for cancer in humans and more studies have been planned. Whilst the studies have shown so far that cannabinoids can be harmless in treating cancer, there is no research to say that they help or cure the disease. The American society supports the want for more clinical research on cannabinoids for cancer sufferers and they do recognise the need for better and more effective therapies that can overcome the often-devastating side effects of cancer and its treatments. Medical marijuana may not be as effective as some cancer drugs, so therefore it is not considered to be a first line treatment.

It has also been suggested that cannabis can kill cancer cells and it slows tumour growth, stimulates food intake and to aid in weight gain for HIV and cancer sufferers. The FDA which stands for federal drugs agency, approved two drugs that include ingredients found in marijuana. This is called Dronabinol. It has synthetic THC and can be used to treat the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy treatment. Research has suggested that CBD oil may aid in some health issues as you do not get high from it. Nabilone is another drug which is used for the same condition, but it has a synthetic chemical that is like THC. United States drug enforcement administration(DEA) tests marijuana and its cannabinoids as schedule 1 controlled substances. (Abrams DI et el, 2007)

Users can use medical marijuana in a few different ways. One way is to smoke it in a hand rolled paper cigarette or use it in a pipe. You can also brew it in drinks, eat it in baked products or cooked food or take it in pill form. Taking a pill form of medical marijuana can be extremely strong and there is no way to measure how long or what effects it will have on an individual. It can also be inhaled through a vaporizer. Cannabinoid receptors can originate in skin, some have found that using medical marijuana in topical form can alleviate pain and inflammation, but more research is needed into whether this form overall does help. (Martin, 2016)

There is some evidence to show that medical marijuana can be helpful in controlling seizures especially for some complex conditions such as lennox-gastaut syndrome in children and in adults. There is also another complex epilepsy called Dranet Syndrome.

Labelled studies on the use of cannabinol (CBD) have shown that some of the side effects can include: sleepiness, fatigue, diarrhoea, and decreased appetite. Cannabinol can have some interactions with some epilepsy medications. 91,745 patients in the U.S have an active medical marijuana registration.

Some pros to the use of medical marijuana is that they are a much safer option then some of the other prescribed medicines. Some research shows that particularly, opiates for pain management can be highly addictive. Some studies have shown that the use of marijuana alone without using it with tobacco-based products doesn’t increase the risk of some lung diseases. Marijuana has been used for centuries as a medicinal agent which is good in affect. 91,745 patients in the U.S have an active medical marijuana registration. (Amatol et el,2017)

Conversely, they say marijuana use leads to much harder drug use and it restricts conceiving, impairs your driving skills, damages your lungs, immune system, and your brain. They say that medical marijuana is a front for drug legalisation and to aid with recreational use.

For every single person that wants to legalise the use of medical marijuana for medicinal purposes, there is someone else who disagrees. Some of the arguments from the other side are that using marijuana often can have some serious effects on your short-term memory. Some research also shows using marijuana can really impair your cognitive abilities. Inhaling any smoke substance whether it is marijuana or tobacco can seriously damage your lung tissue. There is not enough evidence available to support marijuana as a pain-relieving medication. Smoking marijuana has been known to contain some cancer-causing chemicals. A high percentage of car crashes and workplace accidents have been implicated in smoking marijuana. More clinical trials need to take place to look at how effective the uses of medical marijuana are to treat some of the conditions I have listed above, but these are restricted and very limited.

After the first pharmaceutical cannabis-based product was made available in the UK to helps MS sufferers, they authorised the use of Sativex in 2010. It is still very costly at £375 for about 270 doses. This cannabis-based product is very popular with MS sufferers.

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