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Jul 26, 2012

The medical perspective on decriminalizing marijuana possession

You will have heard by now of a proposal to decriminalize the possession of a small quantity of marijuana. The pros and cons of this proposal have been and will continue to be debated; and there are strong arguments on both sides. The recreational and medicinal use are separate and distinct issues; this week, Healthy Living gets the medical facts on marijuana,  its effects and one medical professional’s opinion on the issue of decriminalization.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

By now, either by means of drug education or the glamorized drug use in pop culture, most people are exposed to marijuana and its effects. However, the effect of marijuana use varies with each individual. To find out more we spoke with Dr Fernando Cuellar to find out more about the drug.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist/Intensivist

Fernando Cuellar

“Actually they have been able to identify four hundred and eighty different substances in marijuana. Of course the one that pops out is the T.H.C. The cannaboid that is the actual substance that produces the effect of a state of euphoria and wellness as one has perceived it to be.”


The effect of T.H.C. on the body usually accounts for the high that marijuana users claim to experience.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“It infers in the normal transmission of chemicals in the brain. It makes the person, feel a sense of euphoria a feeling good about themselves, in other words it fools the brain. It makes pain, be perceived less, it can interfere with the vomit center and the nausea center in the brain and that is the benefits or the reason why they use it in certain circumstances.”


Marijuana metabolizes quickly in the body, therefore the short term effects fade within hours, there is no definitive information available as to what the long term effects of marijuana use; but the research into this continues.   It is noted that some people are more susceptible to the addictive nature of the drug.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“From the research I’ve done it’s says its idiosyncratic you really cannot explain it you really cannot predict it who will get addicted to the drug; just like any other medication. Some people react one way to the Tylenol and other people react a different way to the same Tylenol. It’s just the different chemical way you’re made.”


There are examples where marijuana is used for medicinal purposes. However, Dr. Cuellar implores that when talking about decriminalization that there be a clear distinction between recreational & medical marijuana use.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“So far what has been the buzz in Belize is the decriminalization which is a completely different aspect from medical use of marijuana. They should not even be entertained in the same conversation. It’s a whole different thing. Medical use of marijuana is when it is prescribed by a physician or those who are in the authority to prescribe medication or certain specific circumstances and quite frankly. My research has for passed day has led me to [find out] that more and more the list for medical use of marijuana is getting shorter not like a decade ago where the list was so long. But I think consensually they have decided that it is helpful with multiple sclerosis, it’s helpful in stimulating appetite in certain wasting syndromes like HIV/Aids and pain control.”


As for his personal opinion on decriminalization as an experienced physician; he sees other areas that are more pertinent at this time.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“My opinion on this is that we have bigger fishes to fry in Belize, this unfortunate distraction I’d want to us to be talking about forensic medicine if we really want to put our country forward.


Marleni Cuellar

“Are you concerned at all at about the health implications?”


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“I would be more concerned about alcohol use. Ok. Because I have seen alcohol doing more damage than marijuana.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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8 Responses for “The medical perspective on decriminalizing marijuana possession”

  1. Storm says:

    Good points all, Dr. Cuellar.

  2. Belizean says:

    Agree with this guy all the way. Alcohol has worse effects than the famous MJ

  3. Concerned Belizean says:

    Marijuana is the healing of the nation. It’s one of the many natural medicines that was created by the Almighty in order to sustain life in a most effective and efficient means possible. Modern medicine are mainly for profit and long term effects are devastating. I believe that we should learn more about marijuana before we dismiss its consideration. Marijuana is one of the only crop that can change our economy in Belize which will help with the development of Belizeans in many positive ways. I will always support a plant that the almighty created verses the contaminants made by man that we in this confused time and age know as medicine and food which reduces life expectancy. Natural substances can only heal upon being used the right way. Reconsider!!!!!!!

  4. JahKid says:

    Whosoever decides to smoke their lungs off with ganja or ciggis is their business, but one thing I believe is that some users are already disrespectful to none users and it is that the weed is still criminal to posses and use. I imagine that those users will get very disrespectful to none users and it is going to damage the moral of none users. Marijuana users are calm and alcohol users are haggish, disrespectful and provoking. Many drunkards or drinkers have no regards to other people. You walk with your wife and they through all types of comments to your wife and disregard the woman husband and if the husband confronts them, it is big trouble. Weed smokers look like sick horses tied to tree with no shade. No disrespect to any both I believe that it is not appropriate to let people use them anywhere. That they still hide while they smoke their !@#$. Marijuana is natural but smoking it was not the purpose God created it for. Smoking it damages your teeth, lungs, fingernails, smelling sense and throat. Make a tea or a cake or use it in alcohol for rubbing painful joints. The weed stem in green alcohol (Ihave prove it) heals or stops the pains in the joints. Real! No smoking!!

  5. Earl Grey says:



  6. Concerned Belizean says:

    By smoking marijuana it induces your appetite which in most cancer and HIV/AIDS patience cases is lost due to their body not having the ability to respond to such natural event. Smoking is bad depending on how and what you smoke. You can’t put any blame on any drug for the physical appearance of a person for the reason that such choices made by that individual resulted in such appearance. Drugs are not addictive, its the society and its way of life that makes and individual susceptible to being an addict due to ones everyday life experiences. A child in poverty (the getto) is more likely to be exposed to drugs and drug use unlike those the middle class and above. We chose to do what we want with our lives and hence the reason we should be provided with better alternatives. I would rather smoke my lungs away with ganja than ciggs because smoking marijuana has no longterm effects depending on how you smoke it. Smoking ganja reduce the possibility of getting lung cancer by strengthening the system with substances such as THC. Get the real facts!!!

  7. Former missionary to Belize says:

    According to the Mayo Clinic, marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke and has the potential to cause cancer of the lungs and respiratory tract. Clearly, this is contradictory to the biblical mandate to keep our bodies pure. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

    The Bible teaches Christians to be sound of mind. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The Greek word translated as “sober” is nepho, which literally means “drink no wine.” From this it derived a broader meaning of being self-controlled, free of confusion, clear headed, sound of mind, or keeping your head. From this verse, we can see that Christians are to avoid intoxicants that impair clear thinking. Marijuana certainly seems to cloud thinking and reaction time. According to the Kaiser study, daily marijuana users have a 30 percent higher risk of injuries, presumably from accidents. A survey of 1,023 emergency room trauma patients in Baltimore found that more than 34 percent were under the influence of marijuana. And a 2005 study showed people who drive after using marijuana are almost twice as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash.

    Finally, Satan is the great justifier. He always wants to help us rationalize and justify sinning against God, almost making it seem like the right thing to do. The same games people play in using the Bible to try to justify many other sinful activities can used to justify smoking pot. Taking verses out of context, stating a verse means one thing when it clearly means another, and making assumptions the Word does not support are all tricks the enemy will use to try to justify smoking marijuana. We must never forget that Satan is a liar. We must guard against these tactics in our own lives.

  8. Belizean says:

    I personally do not agree with smoking weed at all, and I never have. My point is that with legalizing the possession of a small amount wont cause me to want to smoke now. And it wont cause anybody else to smoke it if they dont want to. That is a choice that everyone makes for him/her self, if its legal or not legal!!! All it does is ease and free up the courts for the cases that have directly caused death, or serious injury. If people want to smoke, get themselves into accidents and we could name hundreds of other effects like our “missionary” stated, it is their choice. Of course we would hope they would come to better judgement and listen to their conscience.

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