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The marijuana plant should not be an illegal drug; it should be a prescription drug. Marijuana is a controlled substance that should be legalized for medical use. In this argumentative essay I will discuss the history of marijuana, the effects of marijuana, the ways that marijuana could be utilized in the medical field, and will offer a refutation of how marijuana is a dangerous drug. The term marijuana is a word with indistinct origins. Some believe that it is derived from the Mexican words for Mary Jane; others believe that marijuana comes from the Portuguese word marine-ana, which means intoxicant. As defined by web marijuana is defined as a strong smelling plant from whose dried leaves a number of euphoria causing and hallucinogenic drugs are prepared.
The synonyms for marijuana are marihuana, ganja, pot, grass, weed, dope, sess, sens, skunk, Mary Jane, and Cannabis Sativa. The experience of the 1960 s might lead one to believe that marijuana use spreads explosively. The chronicle of its 3, 000 -year history, however, shows that this explosion has been a characteristic only of the contemporary scene. The plant has been grown for fiber and as a source of medicine for several thousand years, but until 500 A. D.
its use as a mind-altering drug was confined to only India. The drug and its uses reached the Middle East and Near East in the next several centuries, and then moved across North Africa. The drug was then introduced into the United States. It had been used in the Caribbean and Latin America before it came to the United States. Meanwhile it had been introduced into European medicine shortly after the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon. The history of cannabis products and their use has been long, colorful and varied.
Cannabis sativa has been used therapeutically for several thousand years. The first uses of cannabis as a medicine are believed to be as an antiseptic and analgesic. The oldest known use of cannabis dates back to the 28 th century B. C. during the reign of Emperor Shen-Nung. The ancient Chinese used this plan to help gout, malaria, rheumatism, and absent-mindedness.
Over the years marijuana has been used to treat sore eyes, earaches, edema, inflammation, hemorrhoids, asthma, skin diseases, cholera, to stimulate an appetite, and even to help the ease the pains of labor. In the 20 th century the advancements in medicine have allowed doctors to find many more uses for this miracle plant. By isolating the active drug in the marijuana plant doctors have been able to synthesize this drug. Although they have found ways to replicate the drug it has not been as productive as the smoking of marijuana. Oral ingestion of the synthetic THC has not had nearly the positive effects of marijuana. It takes longer to begin to work and it can become more addictive that marijuana.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, is the active ingredient in marijuana. This has been found to help treat the pain from such horrible diseases as cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, epilepsy, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and even migraines. Marijuana is a drug made from the dried leaves of the Hemp plant. Marijuana is also known as cannabis, which comes from the scientific name of the Hemp plant or Cannabis sativa. These dried leaves are usually smoked in rolled cigarettes or pipes to achieve a psychological feeling of euphoria. The marijuana plant contains more than 460 known compounds, of which more than sixty have been identified as cannabinoids.
The most studied cannabinoid, 9 -tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is present in large amounts in marijuana. Researchers believe that THC is the cannabinoid that is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana. Because of this euphoric feeling associated with the use of marijuana, it is the third most commonly used drug in the United States (behind tobacco and alcohol). The cultivation, distribution, possession or consumption of marijuana is a violation of both federal and state laws in the United States.
Although the government denies the fact, it is widely regarded in the medical community that marijuana also has a great deal of medicinal benefits. Scientific studies have been published that show marijuana is an effective treatment for a wide range of ailments from migraines to the treatment of mental illness. Throughout history, cannabis has been used as a medicinal herb. The Chinese were the first to record the use of marijuana as medicine, but many cultures have recognized the beneficial qualities of the hemp plant. The first published studies in the United States came in 1860 by the Ohio Medical Society. These physicians reported that cannabis was successful in treating stomach pain, gastric distress, psychosis, chronic cough, gonorrhea and neuralgia.
The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 worked to diminish the study of marijuana as medicine until the early 1970 s, when cannabis was re-discovered as a medical substance and was tested in treating such conditions as glaucoma, cancer treatment side-effects, and other ailments. Current promising areas of marijuana research include AIDS, epilepsy, nervous disorders, asthma, pain relief and, ironically enough, mental illness. The initial scientific study of marijuana as a potential for medical treatment in the 1970 s was for the condition of glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye disease that strikes more than 178, 000 Americans per year and it is estimated than four million Americans are currently suffering from glaucoma.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among Americans. Glaucoma can be found in all age groups, but most commonly strikes adults over the age of sixty-five. Glaucoma is characterized by increased pressure behind the eye. This pressure causes great damage to the optic nerve, thus leading to blindness. Glaucoma is treatable in about ninety percent of the sufferers.
In some cases, surgery is needed. However in most cases, topical eye drops combined with daily oral medication is prescribed. However, the current oral medications have some severe side effects that cause some patients to discontinue use. These side effects include migraine headaches, kidney stones, blurred vision, cardiac problems, insomnia and nervous anxiety. An alternative to the oral medications used to treat glaucoma is marijuana. The smoking of marijuana has shown to have significant effects for those who suffer from glaucoma.
The smoking of marijuana has shown to reduce the pressure behind the eyes. This pressure is caused by the glaucoma. The treatment of convulsions was the first major medicinal application of marijuana in Western Medicine. The use of marijuana has demonstrated success in the treatment of muscular spastic disorders. Muscular spasticity (or spasm) is a common condition, affecting more than one million persons in the United States. It afflicts individuals with multiple sclerosis, stroke, cerebral palsy, paraplegia, quadriplegia, and spinal cord injuries.
Current medical therapy in lacking for these individual because two of the most prescribed medications, Phenobarbital and diazepam (Valium) produce drug tolerance in most patients or the patients complain of undesirable side effects, such as heavy sedation (Marijuana as Medicine, 1997). Relative to muscular disorders, the use of marijuana has been shown to reduce the effects of such diseases as epilepsy, Tourette s syndrome, Huntington's disease and Parkinson s disease. Another area that has received support for marijuana research is in the treatment of the cancer chemotherapy. The THC in marijuana has shown to have a great anti emetic effect that reduces the nausea and vomiting that accompany chemotherapy agents.
THC has been indicated by patients as being more effective in reducing the vomiting and Nausea that accompanied by cancer chemotherapy. These studies comparing marijuana to legal prescription drugs were impressive to the medical community. In 1990, random samples of 1, 035 clinical oncologists (doctors specializing in the treatment of cancer) were surveyed about their attitudes and opinions of marijuana as a potential anti emetic medication. More than half of the physicians reported that approved anti emetic medication caused significant problems within their patient population and about twenty percent of the physicians reported that approved anti emetic medications, such as Comparing provided no relief to their patients.
The physicians surveyed were aware of marijuana's anti emetic effects, with over seventy percent of the physicians reporting that at least one patient in their practice regularly used marijuana as an anti emetic and had observed or discussed the benefit of marijuana with that patient. A surprising amount of physicians has even recommended marijuana to at least one patient. Almost half of the physicians surveyed believed that marijuana was a safe and efficacious drug and most believed that marijuana should be available as a prescription (Domain, 1991). Since the late 1980 s, AIDS has dominated the health care arena. Due to the political nature of this disease, federal officials have blocked several research proposals to investigate the use of marijuana in treating AIDS-related symptoms. It is ironic, however, that the federal government did nothing to block the approval of a pharmaceutical composition comprised of THC for an Ohio-cased pharmaceutical corporation.
Marinol, which is a pharmaceutical compound derived from the THC in the cannabis plant, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1985 and has been on the market since that time. Marinol is manufactured and marketed by Romance Laboratories in Columbia, Ohio. The FDA labeling allows Marinol to be indicated for anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS and also, Nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy. Studies with Marinol have shown that HIV-infected persons have significant improvement in appetite, fat intake, and weight gain with a treatment dose of 5 mg twice daily (Strike, 1993).
However, some medical experts look at research on Marinol as a corporate marketing scheme and question its scientific value. Werner from the University of Hawaii undertook a survey study on 123 people with AIDS in Honolulu. The survey examined the possible therapeutic uses of marijuana by people with AIDS. Included in this survey were questions about the persons individual knowledge or marijuana for medical use, their preference between Marinol and marijuana cigarettes for indications such as appetite stimulation and nausea / vomiting relief. The results were devastating to the manufacturer of Marinol; of those participants that had tried both Marinol and marijuana cigarettes, eighty seven percent preferred marijuana cigarettes (Werner, 1996). Complaints about Marinol ranged from the cost of the drug ($ 400 per month) to its non-effectiveness (8 out of 10 times did nothing).
Currently, the United States and Canada have federal regulations that prohibit the cultivation, distribution, possession and use of marijuana for personal consumption. The prohibition of marijuana began in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Act, which taxed the use of marijuana and required anyone who used marijuana to register his or her use. This registration process, in conjunction with the high taxes, made marijuana virtually prohibitive to use. In the 1960 s, marijuana use rose sharply as people began to use the drug for recreational purposes. This increased legislative concern, and in 1970 s Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act, which assigned drugs to certain schedules based on the drugs potential for abuse and level of medical use. Schedule I drugs were considered to have no medical use and the high abuse potential.
Marijuana was classified as a Schedule I drug (in the same category as heroin and LSD). Many organizations have tried to institute legal proceedings to allow hearings to have marijuana transferred to Schedule II so that it may be prescribed for physicians for supervised, medical use. Lester Grinspoon attended one such BNDD (Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs) hearing where he had waited for his chance to present his case in favor of having marijuana transferred to Schedule II. Before him, a case was being presented to place a drug called Talwin on the schedule of dangerous drugs.
Talwin, a drug manufacturer by Winthrop Pharmaceuticals, was a synthetic opiate based drug with a history of several hundred cases of addiction, a number of cases of death by overdose and considerable evidence of abuse. Winthrop Pharmaceuticals sent six corporate lawyers to defend their product and to ensure that Talwin was not placed on the schedule of drugs. They succeeded in part; the drug was placed on Schedule IV. Dr.
Grinspoon then presented his case on cannabis no evidence of overdose deaths or addiction and a great deal of scientific evidence showing the medicinal value of marijuana (presented by both patients and physicians). The BNDD refused to transfer the drug to Schedule II (Grinspoon, 1993). In this decision, they made a legal error they failed to open the hearings to the public as was mandated by law. Due to this legal mistake by the BNDD, the organizations desiring the schedule change filed suit to have their case heard again. By this time, the BNDD had become the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
The DEA refused public hearings and tried to placate the organizations by placing synthetic THC (i. e. Marinol a drug recently approved by the FDA and manufactured by a pharmaceutical company) on Schedule II, but leaving marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Finally, the public hearings were held in May of 1986.
With his ruling on September 6, 1988, Administrative Law Judge Frances J. Young dealt a blow to the efforts of the DEA and others who consistently fought the schedule change. Judge Young made the following statements: 1. Approval by a significant minority of physicians in the United States was enough to meet the standard of currently accepted medical use established by the Controlled Substances Act for a Schedule II drug. 2. He stated, Marijuana in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. Young went on to recommend that, based on the guidelines for medical use set forth by the Controlled Substances Act, that the drug be transferred to Schedule II.
However, the DEA rejected the decision of its own judge and refused to transfer marijuana to Schedule II (Grinspoon, 1993). Physician support for the medical use of marijuana is overwhelmingly. The American Medical Association, a group of practitioners from all disciplines, has made their support for medical marijuana research known. In a highly public statement, the AMA has called for federally funded research in the efficacy of marijuana for medical treatment.
A group of physicians and patients have filed a class-action lawsuit against the government claiming that the federal government has violated their constitutional rights by threatening to sanction and even criminally prosecute physicians who recommend and patients who use marijuana to alleviate their medical conditions. The marijuana plant should not be an illegal drug; it should be a prescription drug. Marijuana is a controlled substance that should be legalized for medical use. The medicinal value of marijuana is well documented. Modern studies have reconfirmed historical cases of the benefits of marijuana use for some diseases.
Federal law prohibits marijuana use and the government, due to its political nature, refuses to heed advice from physicians and even its own administrative body and seriously ill Americans are suffering needlessly. This conflict leads physicians to advise their patients to break the law and send them to the street to obtain their medicine. While the political debate continues, AIDS and cancer patients continue to lose weight and experience Nausea and vomiting, glaucoma continue to go blind while approved medications fail and victims of other diseases that could benefit from medicinal marijuana agonize over ineffective treatment. The federal government continues to push Marinol and other FDA-approved drugs instead of marijuana. Federal agencies push Torecan and Zofran, both of which physicians agree are not adequate substitutes for marijuana in controlling Nausea and vomiting. Torecan renders the patient almost comatose and Zofran is very expensive at six hundred dollars per dose per day.
In contrast, marijuana costs just pennies a day (Marijuana as Medicine, 1996). While no one is advocating that all patients with conditions that respond favorably to marijuana be forced to use marijuana. Ultimately, the decision on which medication to prescribe is between the patient and the physician. But that patient should have the ability to choose from all medications that could help his or her condition.
The American people and their physicians know that marijuana has important medical benefits. What is now needed is a rationale plan to make marijuana legally available for medical use, under medical supervision, to those with legitimate medical needs. Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reasons in that it attempts to control a mans appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded Abraham Lincoln, 1840 33 a
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