Recently, my home state of Massachusetts passed a law to legalize medical marijuana. The topic has raised many questions, especially if the substance even has medical benefits.

CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, denied any medical benefits of marijuana until very recently. In a documentary, he focused on the story of a five year old girl from Colorado who had had over 300 seizures each week. The girl’s parents and doctors managed to relieve the symptoms of her illness with a specific strain of Cannabis that contains a low amount of THC, the compound which creates the high and a large amount of CBDs, the cannabinoid which has been found to have more medical applications than the other chemicals found within the plant. This allows the patient to enjoy the medical benefits of the substance without inducing a high.

Most of the data collected on the effects of marijuana aren’t looking for benefits, but rather are digging for problems. Due to marijuana’s status as  an illicit drug, it’s hard to even get access to the drug for research. Currently, one of the leading universities in this field of research is Tel-Aviv. With a supportive government, researchers have found a wide range of uses for medical marijuana. Today, many use marijuana as a substitute to extremely addictive pharmaceuticals to treat various ailments, including the side effects of chemotherapy.

Fortunately, it appears that the negative connotations about “Reefer Madness” have begun to subside. A Gallup research poll from 2010 found that a record high 50% of Americans are in favor of legalizing the substance. An even more recent Gallup poll found that even the majority of people who aren’t in favor of legalizing the substance are in favor of a federal laissez-faire attitude towards the states who have begun the legalization process. The effects of exposure to the drug’s true effects are continuing to change the perception that the public has about this potentially useful substance.

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Watching CNN’s documentary got me thinking about why Stony Brook University can’t start paving a new path for research in the United States. As a school that prides itself in science and research, new fields and opportunities should start to be explored. Though it is a controversial subject, after seeing so many patients who benefit from the substance, the possible medicinal uses from the drug must at least spark some curiosity within the scientists at SBU. With the resources and alliances the school has made to advance research, this is a field that is new, exciting and yet to be explored in depth.

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