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Legalization Of Marijuana Essay, Research Paper

From Munir Slaiman


Cannabis or Marijuana as commonly known has been used for thousands of years by many cultures to ease numerous ailments. Today, it is widely used to combat pain, glaucoma, AIDS wasting syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy. There is no evidence that legal use of marijuana, as medical substance will lead to widespread abuse in-patients or in the population. For many years it has been used for medical treatment and nowadays the controversy is if it should be legalized.

Historically marijuana has been considered as having a medical value, and it was used before the twentieth century. Medical Marijuana has an article that explain the chronology of marijuana an shows that it has been used since the 1800 s when marijuana entered into western medicine.

Ohio State held the first conference of the medical use of marijuana in 1860, and in 1893 Britain s Indian Hemp Drugs commission advised against prohibition of marijuana. In the 1900 s laws have restricted the control of this narcotic. Also it was the beginning of the marijuana uses by the Mexicans and Southern Black immigrants by smoking rolled marijuana. In those years the Federal Officials spearheaded an anti-marijuana campaign. In

1936 the society was against marijuana use and made a documentary Reefer Madness about students smoking marijuana whose go insane and kills their parents. In 1937 the congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, and doctors soon stopped prescribing it (713).

It also says that during the 1960 s and 1970 s Congress rewrote drug laws because young people were abusing marijuana. They wrote that this would be in a rank on Schedule I, which means that it cannot be prescribed. However, in 1972 the National Organization for Reform of prescribing Marijuana Laws (NORML) made a petition in favor of prescribing marijuana. The Institute of Medicine in 1982 says that this drug show a promise in the treatment of a variety of disorders. In 1988 the Drug enforcement Administration (DEA) declared that it s one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. In the 1980 s cancer patients began smoking marijuana to ease the pain and nausea produced by chemotherapy. AIDS Patients also began using marijuana in the 1990 s for these same reasons and appetite loss (713). It shows that since many years marijuana has been a resurgence of interest in medical benefits. Through time marijuana legalization has gone through many struggles.

The magazine The CQ Researcher says that: The perennial debate over whether sick people should be allowed to smoke marijuana to help ease pain or nausea caused by chemotherapy or other ailments are heating up . A March report by the prestigious Institute of Medicine fueled the controversy when it said smoking marijuana is risky but also recommended that critically ill patients be allowed to use it in closely monitored trials. Critics of medical marijuana argue there is no scientific proof the drug is therapeutic, but scientists insist that marijuana s constituents could someday produce safe medications for a

variety of ailments (705). It would be inhuman to deny ill people of marijuana while in pain, therefore this drug should be legalized for medical purposes.

There currently exists controversy concerning smoking and using marijuana as a medicine (The California Narcotic Officers Association). Marijuana legalization has been one of the most controversial issues. It has been illegal in The United States since 1937, and it has yet to stop marijuana usage. A drug war was started in the 1980 s, and it has had no long-term effect on the usage of marijuana. But regardless of perspective, the presence of marijuana in the popular media is hard to ignore.

Due to the facts many people argue with the legalization of marijuana because there are many factors in this debate. This debate is because marijuana provokes dependence.

Marijuana has a high potential for abuse and that abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. This dependence and associated addictive behaviors have been well described in the literature. Medical Marijuana should not be permitted because chemicals in marijuana are fat soluble which means they do not pass through the body, but leave blood stream and embed themselves in cells causing the chemicals to be released slowly (Dudley 70).

Research shows that marijuana damages short term memory, distorts perceptions,

impairs judgment and complex motor skills, alters heart rates, and has the potential to trigger severe anxiety, paranoia, and lethargy” (Shalala 10).

Some scientists believe that marijuana does not cause the psychosis, but an individual may already have a physiological disorder that is inactive and marijuana could

possibly awaken the disorder. Schizophrenics are at a higher risk for adverse psychiatric effects when using marijuana and heavy use can precipitate a schizophrenic episode. There

is little evidence that there are any longer term effecting cognitive ability, and little evidence that moderate users have any cognitive defects after the intoxication wears off. Marijuana is not associated with any increase of mortality (Sidney 87). Most physiological harms that are attributed to marijuana are actually from the act of smoking or inhaling smoke.

The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta 9- tetrahydrocannabinnol). The strength of the drug is measured by the amount of average THC in test samples confiscated by law enforcement agencies . Marijuana today contains 4 10 times more of the major psychoactive ingredient THC than it did a decade ago (Leshner).

THC both increases and decreases different types of immune system cells, but after much research there is no proof that it either weakens or strengthens the immune system.

Scientists are studying whether THC and other chemicals are found in marijuana may have other medical uses. Some think that these chemicals could be useful for treating severe pain. But further research is needed before such compounds can be recommended for the treatment of medical problems. Some of them are glaucoma and AIDS.

In Cannabis in Medical Practice the author claims that: There is an obvious beneficial role for the use of cannabis in the treatment of HIV /AIDS . Many studies of cannabis itself have shown it to be well tolerated, to have a very wide therapeutic range, to not have lethal dose, and it appears to be superior to Marinol (the major psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) . For many patients, cannabis is

the medicine that makes the use of other medicines possible. Concerns about the immunosuppressive effects of cannabis are not supported by clinical data whereas

the immunosuppressive effects of starvation and wasting are well documented (92).

Too many people have been died for the mere reason of not giving drugs to a sick person. In AIDS patients the related effect of this drug is the stimulation of appetite. Also marijuana provides symptomatic relief from glaucoma, . Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowers intraocular pressure in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma (The Use of Marijuana for Glaucoma).

The active ingredient in marijuana THC is the only kind that is effective in reducing some medical problems. Marijuana and THC are the exceptions in the pharmaceutical industry. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) supplies marijuana and THC to researchers who are investigating the medical potential. Also, the classification of those in Schedule I make it fairly difficult for researchers to obtain approval to study those drugs, given the strict security requirements (Roffman 6). The criteria for Schedule I substance in Marijuana as Medicine are the high potential for abuse, and that is not currently accepted for use in medical treatment in the United States because it hasn t been proven safe for use under medical supervision (4-5).

Legal access to therapeutic cannabis is currently unavailable to most people. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act and therefore cannot be prescribed . However, access through this program was closed in 1992 (Methre 2). Is

unfair that this substance has been prohibited, because it can be use under control and this way helps patients with some of the illness that marijuana can help to cure.

Voter in five states legalized possession and cultivation of small amounts. The first state to accept the legalization of use and possession of marijuana for medical purposes was Hawaii (Hawaii). “Oregon s medicinal law, passed in November 1998, allows people who suffer from cancer, glaucoma, HIV and other physical ailments to register with the Health Division to use marijuana” (Channel 6000).

People of the State of California found and declared that they had the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the person’s health. And in November of 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215,which allows marijuana for medical usage, the initiative that decriminalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes (215 NOW).

In considering possible medical uses of marijuana, it is important to distinguish between whole marijuana and pure THC or other specific chemicals derived from cannabis. Whole marijuana contains hundreds of chemicals, some of which are clearly harmful to health.

Although The CQ Researcher s conclusions were less positive about marijuana s medical efficacy and safety than proponents claims, rescheduling advocates say several

findings in the Institute of Medicine report boost their case that marijuana doesn t meet the three criteria for remaining a Schedule I drug.

The Institute of Medicine found that the safety issues associated with marijuana and some times outweighed by medical benefits, and the side effects of cannabinoids are the acceptable risks associated with approved medications . While certain vulnerable populations can develop a dependence on the drug, withdrawal is mild and sensible

compared with alcohol or heroin withdrawal. Marijuana s active components are potentially effective in treating pain, nausea, and the anorexia of AIDS wasting and other symptoms, and should be rigorously tested in clinicals trials (710).

The withdrawal symptoms of marijuana have been controlled and observed carefully because some times it can produce tolerance, but its only occur in heavy users. “Tolerance and withdrawal symptoms do not develop from marijuana as it is used because very few people use high-quality cannabis in large amounts. Tolerance to large amounts of THC is definitely established, and some nonspecific withdrawal symptoms in heavy hashish smokers have been described (Cohen 24).

When patients are abusing of this drug tolerance is more quickly in their body and because of this it has to be prescribe for it use. THC has chronic effects because most of the substances of abuse produce tolerance, physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance to most of the effects of marijuana can develop rapidly in only a few doses, and it also disappears rapidly (Marijuana and Medicine 4).

Just as most experts agree that occasional or moderate use of marijuana is innocuous, they also agree that excessive use can be harmful. Research shows that the two

major risks of excessive marijuana use are the respiratory disease due to smoking and accidental injuries due to impairment.

American people do not support legalization of marijuana. But this acceptation

will give a new hope to those affected with major disease. “‘Anything that people done in excess is bad for you’”, says Piomelli (Rayl), and because of that if it use for medicinal reasons will provided in small quantities by doctors.

For groups genuinely interested in therapeutic uses, the position is clear .”resort to taking marijuana illegally in an attempt to ease distressing symptoms (Morris). It is hard to know for sure whether regular marijuana use causes cancer, but it is known that marijuana contains some of the same, and sometimes even more, of the cancer causing substances found in tobacco smoke. If marijuana use finally gets legalized it will help solve major problems in the United States.

The government spends billions of dollars on stringent law enforcement programs. This prohibition of drugs has made the drug trade highly lucrative, allowing organized crime, both the Mafia and street gangs, to flourish and national murder rates to skyrocket.

Marijuana should be legalized for sick people who can benefit from its usage and for environmental and industrial benefits. Marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substance known to man. People should know the risks involved and make their own decision as to whether or not they are willing to take on those risks. The use for medical treatment should be legalized because the cannabinoids in marijuana are effective treatments for symptoms such as pain relief, glaucoma, AIDS and cancer. Also this substance can reduce anxiety, can cause sedation, and euphoria.

In a Proposition Debate says that society should allow people with certain illness (and their caregivers) could grow or possess marijuana for medical use when is recommended by a physician. Some people who support prohibition claim that marijuana itself causes violence.


Channel 6000. Pot approved for Alzheimer s patients… 8 pars.26 Jun.2000

Dudley, William. Marijuana. San Diego, California. 1999.

Hawaii Becomes First State to Approve Medical Marijuana Bill. New York Times.

Late edition (East Coast). 23 pars. 16 Jun. 2000. Honolulu, 14 Jun.

http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?TS=9611691 =1&fmt=3&Sid=1&Idx=2&Deli=

Methre, Mary Lynn. Cannabis in medical Practice. McFarland

& Compan, Inc., Publishers. Jefferson, North Carolina.

Medical Marijuana. The CQ Researcher. Congressional Quarterly Inc.

Volume 9, No. 31 August 20, 1999.

Roffman, Roger. Marijuana as Medicine. Madrona Publishers. Seattle.


Leshner, Alan. Marijuana: Facts Parents Needs to Know. National

Institute on Drug Abuse. 1995. US Department of health and human service.

Shalala, D.E. 18 August 1995.Say No to Legalization of Marijuana. Wall

Street Journal.

Cohen, Sidney. “The Drug Dilemma”. 2nd Edition. Washington, D.C.

1969. Chapter 4. McGraw Hill, Inc.

The California Narcotic Officers Association.


Rayl. Marijuana: The Good, The Bad, The Truth . USATODAY. Health. 23 pars.

16 Jun.2000. 16 March.2000. http://www.usatoday.com/life/health/doctor/lhoc112.html

Marijuana and Medicine . Assessing the Science Base. Institute of Medicine.

Chapter 3. pag.4. http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/marimed/ch3.html.

Morris, Kelly. The Cannabis remedy –wonder worker or evil weed? The lancet, London.

Dec20-Dec27, 1997. http://www.proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?ts=9611700

Sidney, S. Marijuana use and Mortally . Friedman GD. 1997. American Journal of Public


“The Use of Marijuana”. Nei Statement. National Eye Institute. National Institute of

Health. http://www.nei.nih.gov/news/marij-html

215NOW!. wysiwyg://144/144/http://www.215now.com/

Proposition Debate. California Proposition.http://www.vidya.com/caprops/215/

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