Medical marijuana and economics

In 800 BC the Aztec and native people had herbal healers that prescribed marijuana in different forms according to the ailment and age of the patient. The herbal healers used their whole world as their pharmacy and plants as their medicines. The herb was made in liquid form for the young or eaten and dried like tobacco for smoking by the elderly (Beau, 2011). Medical Marijuana refers to the use of cannabis or marijuana, including constituents of cannabis, THC and other cannabinoids, as a physician-recommended form of medicine or herbal therapy (http://definitions.

In modern times marijuana has been used more for its euphoric effect rather than for its use as a medicine. It’s because of this euphoric effect why governments worldwide have prohibited its use as a drug. Can the use of marijuana mitigate health issues? Will legalization better the economy? This paper argues that through the legalization of medical marijuana, not only will the lives of Jamaican people improve, the economy will as well. The term medical marijuana is relatively new but the use of marijuana for medical purposes has been around for thousands of years.

Clinical studies suggest the medical utility of marijuana for some conditions. These conditions include: Anorexia nervosa; the fear of gaining weight. The patient conducts self-imposed starvation because they believe that they are too fat and expresses dissatisfaction with aspects of their physical appearance (Beau, 2011). Even though reports suggest the occurrence of eating disorders in Jamaica is low, medical marijuana has been known to relieve this stressful feeling by allowing the user to relax. Inflammation of the joints, Arthritis and Dermatitis, inflammation of the skin.

The use of medical marijuana can make patients less conscious of the daily discomfort. Alzheimer’s disease or primary degenerative dementia, medical marijuana is taken for several reasons, to help the patient’s mood and as an anti-depressant. The THC in marijuana provides an improved therapeutic option for Alzheimer’s disease by simultaneously treating both the progression of the disease and the symptoms. An estimated 40,000 Jamaicans are suffering from Alzheimer’s. Anxiety Disorder is an exaggerated feeling or sensation of doom and dread. Medical marijuana helps by relaxing the tension, as well as induces sleep and helps eliminate worry.

“AIDS is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight the organisms that cause disease” (The Mayo Clinic). There is an estimated 32,000 persons in Jamaica suffering from HIV. Medical marijuana helps persons suffering from depression caused by alienation due to unfair stigmatization. Medical marijuana helps not only with mental issues but physical issues as well. Women suffering from Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can use medical marijuana as a relaxer and to increase appetite as a pick me up feeling.

Men suffering from a herniated disk and people suffering from Gout, can use medical marijuana to relieve stress and pain and to induce relaxation. Most of these conditions are common to Jamaican’s. Today, although it is illegal in the country, marijuana cultivation is still very much alive and well. In fact, from all indications, it is perhaps at an all-time high. If medical marijuana is legalized, treatment to help persons suffering from these illnesses could be readily available; through the creation of medical marijuana facilities similar to those in Denver and San Francisco in the United States.

In the early 1960’s, Humboldt County, California was considered by most to be economically depressed. Twenty Years later it began to flourish because the marijuana growers from the area spent money to support other businesses in the county (Rosenthal and Kubby, 2003). The growers of marijuana in Jamaica would now have a stable consumer base in the medical marijuana facilities. This will lead to them supporting other businesses in Jamaica. If medical marijuana were legalized, the first economic effect would be the decrease in the price of the drug because of the elimination of the risk factor.

This decrease in price will allow the medical facilities to provide the drug cheaper and will also increase the demand for the substance. This could benefit the economy as people worldwide will start taking an interest, which could increase tourism in Jamaica. Medical facilities could be strategically located on the coasts, closer to the hotels, as to provide easy access. The second effect would be a new tax stream for governments, similarly to the taxes on cigarettes, liquor and other substances.

The manufacturing taxes, licenses and fees could generate billions of dollars in annual revenue for the government. These taxes and fees being only a part of the direct revenues generated by regulation. The indirect revenues would include taxes generated on sales of paraphernalia and from the development of recreational establishments in the new industry. The multiplier effect on the surrounding economies would resuscitate ailing communities, generate new income streams and would increase the governments revenue significantly if only from the collection of statutory deductions.

The third economic effect would be the creation of employment. The creation of this new industry would lead to the creation of jobs. Based on the effect medical marijuana has had on the United States, Jamaica could possibly emulate its 1 million people being employed within the medical marijuana industry with registered sales in excess of US$25 billion dollars. The government could even implement special income tax rates for the people involved.

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