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Legalization Of Marijuana Essay, Research Paper

For thousands of years the plant cannabis sativa, otherwise known as hemp or marijuana, has been harvested by people and utilized in many different ways. It has been grown to provide food for villages and towns, and used for clothes, rope, and sails on early ships. The Bible was written on hemp paper, as well as the first draft of the US Constitution. Marijuana has been utilized for its medicinal value since four to five hundred BC. Not until a half-century ago did the hemp plant become illegal as it still is today. The Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937 and this prohibition has barred, to the present day, the utilization of a valuable resource. The legalization of marijuana has been a heated argument in the media and on Capital Hill for quite some time. The need for new advanced medicines and the need for resources to replace the diminishing rain forests and fossil fuel reserves have caused scientists and doctors to look in somewhat odd places. Marijuana has always been portrayed as a vicious drug that everyone needs to stay away from, which I believed also until I began researching the uses and helpfulness of marijuana. I also found that there are three distinct sides to the debate. Some groups want marijuana legalized for recreational purposes and some want it legalized for medical and agricultural purposes only. Others want marijuana, and all other forms of it (Hemp), to remain illegal. Each side has their own reasons for their decisions but some of their reasons are not rational and could deprive the people and a country of a lifesaving medicine and plentiful cash crop.

For years it has been known that marijuana helps many medical ailments. Many current studies show evidence that marijuana is therapeutic in the treatment of a number of serious ailments and is less toxic and costly than many conventional medicines

(House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, “Ninth Report 1998″). The most well known use for “Medical Marijuana” is its effectiveness as an anti-nauseate for cancer chemotherapy. Smoking marijuana usually proves more effective than both conventional prescription anti-nauseates and Marinol (Annual Report: Evaluation of Marijuana and Tetrahydrocannabinol in Treatment of Nausea and/or Vomiting Associated with Cancer,” New York State Journal of Medicine, (1988)). Smoking marijuana stimulates the appetite and promotes weight gain for these patients, thus allowing them to keep their food down as well as any oral medicine they may be taking. Scientific evidence also suggests that marijuana is a valuable aid in reducing pain and suffering for patients with a variety of other serious ailments. Marijuana is proven to help ease the nausea, vomiting, and the loss of appetite experienced by many AIDS patients without accelerating the rate at which HIV positive individuals develop clinical AIDS or other illnesses (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Statement on the Medical Use of Marijuana). Marijuana is not only used for “Wasting Syndromes.” It has also been clinically proven to be effective as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of a variety of spastic conditions and has been known to aid patients suffering from glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. Marijuana reduces intraocular pressure (IOP) in patients with ocular hypertension or open-angle glaucoma (Trusopt for Reduction of Intraocular Pressure, March 1995). People suffering from conditions such as multiple sclerosis, paraplegia, epilepsy, and quadriplegia also benefit from marijuana’s ability to suppress convulsions, and it also

alleviates muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Statement on the Medical Use of Marijuana).

Marijuana receives its share of criticism from varied of doctors and scientists. Some

feel the usefulness of marijuana as a medicine is not quite what the studies and tests show. Gabriel G. Nahas wrote ” The debate over using marijuana as medicine has been distorted by one basic confusion: the assumption that smoking marijuana is a better therapy than taking its alternatives on the market” (Nahas, Gabriel G. “Marijuana Is The Wrong Medicine”). Although it is true that there are other drugs that have somewhat the same effects of smoking marijuana, they tend to fall short of having its potency. Testimonials from patients and doctors alike, as well as from clinical research adds to the already extensive literature attesting to the safety and efficiency of smoking marijuana (Mathre, Mary Lynn “Cannabis in Medical Practice”). It is widely known that marijuana induces an altered state of consciousness or “high” which creates euphoria, easy laughing, a sense of heightened awareness, and altered time perception. Some people use these as reasons to protest the medicine marijuana can produce. Many doctors and scientists argue that the therapeutic benefit is usually evident at doses lower than those required to produce such psychoactive effects. Patients receiving marijuana for medical reasons often become tolerant to such effects, while continuing to derive therapeutic benefits (Mathre, Mary Lynn “Cannabis in Medical Practice”). New research indicates that marijuana appears to protect brain cells during a stroke. Researchers have found that

marijuana contains potent antioxidants, which doctors rely on to protect stroke victims from high levels of glutamate. Glutamate is a brain chemical that can reach toxic levels during a stroke, often resulting in irreversible damage to brain cells. Marijuana compounds performed better than traditional antioxidants like vitamins C and E in lab tests (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Statement on the Medical Use of Marijuana). Many people oppose smoking marijuana because of the negative impact on the respiratory system. Although there is no other way to bypass the bad effects of smoking right now, alternative means to deliver marijuana such as aerosol inhalers are being developed.

Marijuana is not only useful for medical purposes. Hemp, often described as marijuana’s misunderstood cousin, has the potential to be manufactured into more than 25,000 different environmentally friendly products (NORML “About Hemp”). Both marijuana and industrial hemp are from the same plant species known as Cannabis sativa. However industrial hemp has only minute amounts of delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that gives marijuana its euphoric and medicinal properties (NORML “About Hemp”). Using hemp to make paper would sharply reduce the amount of forests cut down. The preservation of our forests and the low pollution resulting from the production of hemp paper make it imperative that hemp be legalized to create an ecological paper making industry. There are several strains of the plant for providing paper, as well as fuel, and seeds. Other strains can be made specifically for clothing or for synthetic plastics made of cellulose. The seed’s oil can be used to make paints and varnishes, which are of the same quality a petrochemical paints, and

considerably less harmful to the environment. Hemp hurds are often used to restore and build houses in France, where approximately 10,000 tons of industrial hemp is harvested annually. Hemp has a higher yield per acre than cotton and requires almost no pesticide. After its average growing cycle of one hundred days, hemp leaves the soil virtually weed-free for the next planting. The seed is second only to soy in protein and contains the highest concentration of essential amino and fatty acids found in any food (NORML “About Hemp”).

Domestic sales of imported hemp products drew in an estimated $25 million dollars in sales in 1994. Hemp has been widely accepted in the fashion world by companies such as Ralph Loren, Adidas, and Calvin Klein. Various other American manufacturers produce a variety of hemp-based goods ranging from socks to skin care items. American sales of hemp products have grown from less that one million dollars to around fifty million dollars in the last six years. There have been some very prestigious advocates of Hemp in America’s history. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both cultivated the crop for its fiber and believed in a hemp-based economy. Hemp was used for rope, sails, lamp oil, and paper in colonial times and remained popular until the late nineteen thirty’s. In 1937, congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act that outlawed marijuana and put and end to the industry (NORML “About Hemp”).

Many people believe that marijuana is a drug with dangerous side effects. This is somewhat true. There are a small percentage of people who will experience higher heart rates and anxiety. Although marijuana does not cause physical addiction, like the addiction found in users of alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine, there is a mental addiction that

can occur. This form of addiction is the same type experienced by people who watch too much television, or eat too much food. These minor problems pale in comparison to the

dangers of legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol. When marijuana is legalized, an inexpensive medicine will be available to the millions who can benefit from the plants

healing properties, as well as a nutritional food source that can supply enough food to feed starving people throughout the nation. Marijuana needs to be legalized to re-establish a national product that will positively change many aspects of our lives.

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Annotated Bibliography

The need for new advanced medicines is causing doctors to look at somewhat odd sources. One of these sources is the presently illegal drug marijuana. The legalization of marijuana has long been a heated argument between lawmakers and the general public alike. Marijuana has been proven to be a helpful medicine, as well as having many other uses, but it also has a few drawbacks. Marijuana causes an euphoric “high” when smoked, which is keeping this potential life saving drug from being released on the market.

Annual Report: “Evaluation of Marijuana and Tetrahydrocannabinol in the Treatment of

Nausea and/ or Vomiting Associated with Cancer,” New York State Journal of

Medicine, 1998

This report explains the uses of marijuana in the fight against cancer. It informs the readers of the great need of marijuana to ease pain and allow the patient to eat and keep their food down. This is a very informative source and quite helpful in making my paper.

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Armentano, Paul, “Statement on the Medical Use of Marijuana”

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (1998)

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is a lobbyist group that petitions the government to reform the marijuana laws. They also take it upon themselves to try and educate the general public about the good factors of marijuana. This report tells of the many uses of marijuana in the medical field, and the benefits of marijuana over some conventional prescription drugs.

House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, “Ninth Report”

(1998)

All I found was a small excerpt from the Ninth Report. There wasn’t much in it except a description of marijuana’s use as a medicine.

Lapey, Janet D. MD, “Marijuana Update 1998″

http://www.drugwatch.org/drugfx.html

This is a packet put together by a doctor. She tells the short and long term effects of using marijuana. She also tells how marijuana affects the body. It is an internet source but I think it is actually a book or essay.

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Lipton, Eric “Victories for D.C. Home Rule”

Washing Post, Page A1 (1999 July. 22)

This article told about new advances in marijuana medical uses. It gave specific medical reasons for the drug to be legalized and gave several doctors testimony to the drugs good uses.

Medical Sciences Bulletin, “Trusopt for Reduction of Intraocular Pressure”

Pharmaceutical Information (March 1995)

This was a medical bulletin aimed at Optometrists and Doctors. It tells of new drugs that are being tested or introduced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It was helpful because marijuana is being tested by the FDA for its helpfulness in the fight against glaucoma.

Nahas, Gabriel G. (Tuesday, March 11, 1997). “Marijuana Is The Wrong Medicine”

The Wall Street Journal

This is a short article over the debate on using marijuana as medicine and the assumption that smoking marijuana is better therapy than current medicines on the market. It gives reasons why this is so and talks in opposition to legalizing marijuana for medical uses.

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National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Marijuana: Facts for Teens”

Revised November, 1998

This article is published and distributed by the government. It is simply information for children and teens on the effects of smoking marijuana, and the some of the consequences associated with smoking it. It is very informational for people that don’t know allot on the subject. It is a good anti-marijuana source.

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws “About Hemp”

(1998)

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is a lobbyist group that petitions the government to reform the marijuana laws. They also take it upon themselves to try and educate the general public about the good factors of marijuana. This essay tells about the great benefits Hemp has to offer us. It informs the readers of the thousands of uses of Hemp.

Safer, Morley “Smoking to Live”

CBS NEWS 60 Minutes Volume XXIV, Number 11. (1991 Dec. 1)

This is a news article that interviewed a cancer couple that was fighting chemotherapy by smoking marijuana. They went over what happened without the use of marijuana and what the benefits of smoking it were. The couple gave their testimony that marijuana is needed as a medicine and needs to be legalized immediately.


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