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For the last fifty years there have been various debates over the legalization of

cannabis sativa, more commonly known as marijuana, for it s medicinal potential. Many

people in society are aware of the harmful and long-term effects of marijuana, and

therefore are strongly opposed the drug. What people and governments around the world

fail see is that marijuana has plenty of benefits, and could in fact, serve as a useful drug in

the medical field.

There have been millions of dollars spent to research the effects of marijuana and

the results conclude that this illegal drug could serve a substantial role in the medical

world. It is clear from available studies and rapidly accumulating evidence that marijuana

is helpful in the treatment of a number of serious illnesses and is less toxic and cheaper to

produce than many conventional medicines for which it can replace. In fact, In some

cases, marijuana appears more effective than the traditional available drugs it could

replace.

The active chemical that is stirring up the medical world is called THC

(tetrahydrocarbinol). In 1985, the government recognized that marijuana might have

some therapeutic effects (Science World). Since then THC has been synthetically

duplicated into pill form (Marinol) but is not as effective as smoked marijuana. Not only

is the pill more expensive to produce, but it has also proven to cause high levels of

anxiety and depression. Another problem with the pill, is that it is commonly prescribed to

relieve nausea, usually as a result of chemotherapy, and since the patients are vomiting

every twenty minutes the can not keep the pill in their system (War 149) Marijuana

contains over 200 chemicals in it, and since Marinol only contains one, THC, it does not

have the same effect on patients as smoking one marijuana cigarette.

Marijuana has been used by physicians for at least 5000 years. Although there is no

proof that it completely cures patients from any ailments, it does dramatically relieve the

symptoms. Until 1937, marijuana was legal for all, and in 1941 the Federal Bureau of

Narcotics out lawed doctors from prescribing it to ill patients. But in 1996, Arizona and

California passed laws that allow all doctors to prescribe or recommend marijuana for

their patients. Since then, 35 states plus Washington DC have passed bills that support

the use of medical marijuana. The problem with these bills is that possession, use, and

cultivation of cannabis is still a violation of Federal Law.

. The therapeutic applications of cannabis include consumption of the herb for:

AIDS wasting syndrome, appetite loss, arthritis, cancer chemotherapy and radiation

therapy side effects, chronic pain, cramps and muscle spasms, depression, epilepsy and

convulsion disorders, glaucoma, insomnia, migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis and

spasticity disorders, nausea, PTSD, rheumatism, spinal cord injury, stress-related

problems, vomiting, and many other conditions (Norris 81).

Marijuana has shown to be helpful in the treatment of nausea and vomiting caused

by cancer chemotherapy treatment. In a 1990 survey, 44% of doctors that treat cancer

patients said that they have illegally recommended that their patients smoke marijuana to

relieve their suffering. In this same survey, 54% favored making marijuana a legal,

prescription medicine. In a 1988 study by Dr. Vincent Vinciguerra, 78% of patients that

showed no response to standard drugs improved favorably when they smoked marijuana

(Workshop 14).

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, and can be treated

with marijuana. It has been accepted by most of the medical community that marijuana

reduces pressure in the eyes, which is the main focus of the disease. It was first found, in

a study by Robert S. Hepler, that the pressure dropped significantly when treated with

marijuana or THC. Of the eight patients that legally receive marijuana from the

government, three use it to treat glaucoma

Medical marijuana is commonly used by AIDS patients. 80% of the San Francisco

Cannabis Buyers Club s customers use marijuana to treat AIDS. Marijuana treats nausea,

vomiting, and appetite loss caused by the disease itself, AIDS Wasting Syndrome, or

treatment with AZT and other drugs(Armentano 36). Marinol is currently, effectively

being used to treat AIDS Wasting Syndrome. Researchers don t know if marijuana has

more of an effect than Marinol, but it is preferred by many patients.

In modern medicine, the first major use of marijuana as a medicine was treating

convulsions. It has been reported, more recently, to treat epilepsy. In numerous animal

studies, marijuana has shown to reduce or even stop convulsions. For some people,

nothing else will work to reduce their convulsions. Cannabiniol, an ingredient of marijuana

not found in Marinol, is thought to be the chemical that helps reduce convulsions. In a

survey of 308 epileptic patients, it was found that use of marijuana appeared to delay the

first onset of complex partial seizures (Illegal Drugs 186).

Marijuana is commonly used to ease chronic pain caused by serious injuries and

Sir William Osler considered it as the best remedy for a migraine headache. In the 19th

century, Dr. John Russell prescribed that Queen Victoria smoke marijuana to treat

menstrual cramps( NORML 2). Patients have reported that marijuana helps ease pain.

There is very little research on the use of marijuana as a painkiller, because they use

stronger opiates, such as morphine. Marijuana has proved to be as effective codeine.

There are many other medical uses for smoked marijuana that have not been

studied very thoroughly. Patients use marijuana to treat many things, such as inflammatory

diseases (arthritis, rheumatism, and Crohn s disease), depression and mental illness (many

schizophrenics need to be hospitalized less when they smoke marijuana), as well as others

(Workshop 6-7). Marijuana has been proven to relieve asthma attacks. Marijuana can

also be a substitute for more dangerous prescriptions.

Marijuana has a history of being a very useful drug. For thousands of years to treat

a variety of illnesses. It is also very safe. No one has ever died of an overdose of

marijuana. A low dosage creates effects such as: feeling of well-being, relaxation and

sleepiness. Marijuana would be safe for medicinal use because the dosage needed to treat

the illnesses less than it is used to get high (War 42). Marijuana is also safer than some

drugs they use for the same problems.

Since no one has ever died of a marijuana overdose, marijuana is safer than

aspirin. Every year, one thousand people die of an aspirin overdose. The side effects of

aspirin can injure or even kill younger children. Marijuana has hardly any harmful effects.

Marijuana seems to be a very safe medicine. The United States government continues to

ignore that marijuana has many medical benefits, and is a legitimate prescription for some

people. Legalization of marijuana would be very beneficial.

344


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