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Cotroversial Cure Essay, Research Paper
If your every waking moment was consumed by pain and nausea, wouldn’t you ask for medication? What if the only medication legally available would leave you unconscious or do nothing at all? If you were the one suffering, would you resort to the only treatment that allowed you to live normally even though it was illegal? Thousands of people across the country are forced to break the law to ease their pain. They have chosen marijuana over anything legally available because it has various medicinal properties that cannot be found anywhere else. Due to these many unique medicinal uses, marijuana should be reclassified as a valid, legal form of treatment.
Marijuana has many unique uses as a form of treatment. It has been used effectively to combat the nausea caused by chemotherapy, to reduce the internal pressure of the eyes of glaucoma patients, and to prevent the “wasting syndrome” in AIDS and cancer patients (“Marijuana for the Sick” A10). As an alternative to using actual marijuana, modern science has developed a synthetic form of THC, the active chemical in marijuana. However, this synthetic drug, called Marinol, is useless for most everyday treatment because it has the unpleasant side effect of being a powerful sedative. A member of Milwaukee’s AIDS community, said that a friend of his was taking Marinol to increase his appetite: “He spends the whole day laughing and watching movies…He can’t even drive a car because he’s so out of it.” (Brazaitis 1C) In addition to that, Marinol only comes in pill form, which makes it useless for patients taking it for nausea. Marijuana has neither of those drawbacks. Because it is usually smoked, even the most nauseous patient can use it as well as easily regulate their intake (“Medical Marijuana” 23). No prescription drug offers the benefits and potential of marijuana.
Many people have testified to marijuana’s validity as a unique form of treatment. One of these, Robert Randall, one of only eight patients supplied with marijuana by the federal government, was diagnosed with acute glaucoma and told that he would be blinded within five years (Brazaitis 1C). Randall “discovered by accident that smoking marijuana” relieved the internal pressure of his eyes (1C). After more than twenty years of smoking marijuana, Randall still has his vision, defying the predictions of his doctors (2C). Richard Brookhiser, a senior editor of the conservative National Review who has admitted to using marijuana to treat the nausea caused by chemotherapy, claims that “if that moment comes to you, you will turn to marijuana.” (Brookhiser 28) Rita Zweig further illustrates marijuana’s effectiveness: “If anything that is prescribed worked as well for me,” she said, “I wouldn’t use marijuana.” (Snider A1) These three people represent thousands of sufferers across the country who use marijuana as a form of treatment.
Marijuana as a form of treatment has gained support from the medical community. Such prestigious medical publications as the New England Medical Journal have come out in support of medicinal uses for marijuana (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 1/30/97 3A). In addition to that, a Harvard study showed that nearly 44% of doctors who treat cancer patients in the American Medical Association, a group officially opposed to marijuana, have actually recommended marijuana to ease the pain of their patients (“Medical Marijuana” 22). Even with this support, the federal government has refused any sort of clinical testing or reclassifying.
Because of its medicinal value and the lack of an effective substitute, marijuana should be reclassified as a Schedule II drug instead of a Schedule I drug, which would allow it for certain medical uses. Other illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin are classified as Schedule II, even though they are considered habit forming and dangerous, where marijuana, classified as a Schedule I, has never caused a death or overdose and is not considered addictive. The federal government refuses to reclassify marijuana because there “is no proof that smoked marijuana is the most effective available treatment for anything.” (McCaffrey 27) There can be no proof until marijuana has been tested in a series of clinical trials. There can be no clinical testing of marijuana because the federal government will not allow them (Conant 26). Anyone who has read the book Catch-22 will find this situation familiar.
The government opponents of medicinal marijuana are against it for political rather than practical reasons. Clinton, who suffered in the polls after he admitted to smoking pot, has taken a strong anti-drug stance to follow in the popular vein of Reagan and Bush’s “war on drugs.” Congress has taken a strong anti-drug stance, which could be viewed as another example of Congress’ detachment from the people they represent, since 35 states have laws that allow marijuana for medicinal use in certain circumstances. The newly passed referendums in Arizona and California demonstrate popular support of these laws, and that they couldn’t be passed through California’s legislature also demonstrates the representative’s isolation from the voters. Federal law, which bans marijuana for all uses, makes all these state laws illegal. This issue represents the power struggle between the state governments and the federal government. The federal government has no constitutional right to ban drugs, especially not if it overrides a state law. This issue has become more than just marijuana for treatment of the sick, it has grown to include the federal government’s desire to maintain its dominance over the state governments. Unfortunately, people whose morality and patriotism prevent them from using marijuana to treat their cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, or other illness pay the price.
The other opponents of marijuana as a form of medical treatment have presented several illogical arguments against it. Many opponents argue that marijuana is a “gateway drug” that often leads to harder drugs. This argument is easily disproved by the fact that use of “hard” drugs in the Netherlands has decreased significantly since marijuana was legalized (“Medical Marijuana” 23). Parents are often worried that prescription marijuana will mean that more of it will get into the hands of kids. Some of these parents have prescriptions for Morphine, Prozac, Zoloft, Dexedrine, or countless other mood-altering drugs which they successfully keep out of their children’s hands.
Marijuana should be reclassified so that its unique medical value can be legally utilized to treat patients. How long would the loudest opponent of medicinal marijuana live incapacitated by nausea or Marinol before he would turn to marijuana? Maybe opponents should spend a month or two in chemotherapy before they deny patients the most effective means of relief.
Brazaitis, Tom. “The Illegal Wonder Drug.” Plain Dealer 2 July. 1995: 1C-2C.
“Journal backs medicinal use of marijuana.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 30 Jan. 1997: 3A. Snider, Harvey.
“Marijuana for the Sick.” New York Times 30 Dec. 1996: A10.
“This Is Smart Medicine.” Newsweek 3 Feb. 1997: 26.
“We’re on a Perilous Path.” Newsweek 3 Feb. 1997: 27.
“Medical Marijuana.” Issues and Controversies on File 10 Jan. 1997: 22-23. Brookhiser, Richard.