Medicinal Marijuana by Peter Zapfella

In many countries, marijuana has been legally classified as a narcotic. A narcotic is a compound that’s used in violation of governmental regulation. The International Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 listed marijuana or cannabis along with cocaine and opium as a narcotic drug. The statutory classification of a drug as a narcotic often increases the penalties’ in a court of law. The two most common forms of narcotic drugs are morphine and codeine. Both are synthesized from opium for medicinal use.’ (

In Australia marijuana is currently listed as an illegal and illicit recreational drug along with amphetamines, ecstasy (MDMA), cocaine, and heroin. At the same time, nicotine, alcohol, and many over-the-counter and prescribed drugs are legal. Yet the rate of addiction and mortality is far, far greater with all of these legal drugs when compared to marijuana. According to the Australian Government Institute of Health and Welfare (

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Cannabis is the most widely used recreational illicit drug in Australia.  Cannabis was the second most common drug type identified at toxicology for transport accident deaths in 2016. Recent use of cannabis among the Australian general population increased significantly between 2016 (10.4%) and 2019 (11.6%). People who use cannabis are older than they were previously—the average age increased from 29 in 2001 to 35 in 2019.  Cannabis is used more frequently than other illicit drugs—37% of recent users reported weekly use compared with 6.7% and 4.5% of ecstasy and cocaine consumers respectively.

There has been an increase in tolerance for regular adult cannabis use among the Australian general population, rising from 14.5% in 2016 to 19.6% in 2019.  In 2019, 41% of Australians supported the legalization of cannabis for personal use. Medicinal marijuana is a different story. In 2016 the Federal Government made amendments to the Narcotics Drug Act of 1967 allowing the Department of Health to regulate the cultivation, of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

For some people suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses, conventional medicines do not work, or do not work as effectively as medicinal cannabis. Also, for some patients, conventional medicines may work but cause debilitating side effects that cannabis can help to relieve Medicinal cannabis comes as a pill, oil, nasal spray or some other form of cannabis plant extract. Smoking cannabis is not recommended by health authorities as there is no reliable way of measuring the dose. Other harmful chemicals or carcinogenic substances may be inhaled directly into the lungs. Until now the only option for pain sufferers has been prescribed drugs such as OxyContin and Endone. They have a number of concerning side-effects including drowsiness, constipation, nausea, respiratory depression, mood swings, addiction, and if overdosed – death. Plus, they are ineffective for pain relief for many people.

A clinical review of medicinal marijuana published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that “Use of marijuana for chronic pain … is supported by high-quality evidence” and a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine states “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids (The main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which acts on specific receptors in the brain known as cannabinoid or CB1 receptors. ) are effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults.” Researchers are investigating the use of medicinal cannabis for: epilepsy multiple sclerosis nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy non-cancer chronic pain palliative care cannabidiol(CBD) for its potential to treat schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, some tumors, chronic inflammatory diseases such as psoriatic arthritis, and drug dependency.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed the leading cause of all drug-induced deaths in the past 17 years is legal alcohol and prescribed pain killers. US research concludes that the availability of medicinal marijuana can potentially reduce opioid overdose rates. Incidentally, the world-wide number of people who have died from marijuana overdose remains at zero. Never the less, there are those who oppose medical marijuana. They are most often those who have a political or economic axe to grind, rather than an interest in the welfare of people who are suffering from chronic pain and disease.

In the meantime, medicinal marijuana is not cheap and the government is unlikely to subsidize it. However, private health funds are starting to include it in their cover. References:, ,,

Peter is the host of the “Talking Hypnosis” radio show on and podcast. Go to