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Marijuana Should be Considered for Medical Use

Abstract: Marijuana, scientifically known as Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica , is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States. Much evidence supports the fact that it may possess properties that could warrant its usefulness in the medical field. For example, it has been used in the treatment of nausea, glaucoma, and migraines among other things. On the other hand, many of its useful effects are accompanied with side affects such as disorientation and hallucinations. Very little studies have been done concerning the beneficial and malignant effects of marijuana despite its ubiquitous nature in American society. This paper combines many of the tested treatments of marijuana with reported side effects in order to test the validity of the drug as a medicine.

Since the passage of the Controlled Substance Act in 1970, marijuana has been considered a Schedule I drug. This means that it fits the following criteria: 1) has a high potential for abuse, 2) has no currently accepted medical use, and 3) lacks safety even under medical supervision (Boire 1993). No one can grow the plant, possess it or any mix or preparation, or absorb it in any way. Many argue in favor of the drug saying that it has no ill effects, and that it, in fact, harbors medicinal properties. Proposition 215 amended California state law to allow people to grow or possess marijuana for medical use when recommended by a physician. The physician may diagnose that a patient may benefit from its use in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief. Unfortunately, studies on the effects of marijuana are scarce so its useful purposes are highly debatable. Whether or not medical marijuana deserves to be legal shall be further examined here.

“Marijuana” is just one particular term for the hemp plant classified as Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. Linnaeus gave its name and classification in 1753 and for hundreds of years it has been used as an intoxicant or an herbal remedy. Cannabis is easily distinguishable by its leaf which is often long, has serrated edges and grows in groups of five, resembling the fingers of the hand. It is made up of about 480 substances. The active ingredient in cannabis is known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC, mostly referred to simply as THC).

Physical, Emotional and Social Impairment Caused by Marijuana

Marijuana is a unique and controversial drug. It is a popular psychoactive drug that is easily accessible and relatively inexpensive. Marijuana is often considered a recreational drug despite its illegal status. It is illegal because there are many uncertainties surrounding this substance. In fact, some favor the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes while others oppose. Opponents of marijuana insist that legal approval will result in serious personal and social problems.

There are three species of Marijuana. The most common and most psychoactive is a prepared mixture of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. Cannabis indica is known to be less potent and Cannabis ruderalis has virtually no psychoactive ingredients. Cannabis sativa will be analyzed in detail since it is the most commonly used species. This plant grows wild but it can be cultivated in temperate as well as tropical areas. Cannabis products can be smoked in pipes or cigarettes. They can also be ingested with food. Manufactured products range from paper to ink (WWW 2).

Every plant varies slightly in composition and the different parts of the plant vary in chemical constituents. In 1993 researchers discovered 400 to 500 chemicals. Some of the major types of chemical constituents in marijuana preparations include acids, alcohols, aldehydes, and amino acids. Cannabinoids, esters, enzymes, glycoproteins, hydrocarbons, ketones, lactones, nitrogenous compounds, phenols, pigments, proteins, sugars, steroids, terpenes, and vitamins are others (Carroll 1993). These are among some of the naturally occurring chemicals in marijuana and were derived from the Institute of Medicine and the Marijuana Project from the University of Mississippi. Furthermore, researchers have found that when cannabis is burned, additional chemicals are formed and may be found in the gas and smoke. One of the chemicals produced is benzopyrene, which is a known carcinogen. It is approximately 70% more abundant in marijuana smoke than in tobacco smoke (Carroll 1993).

Only about 30 of the chemicals in marijuana have been studied extensively for their psychoactive effects. Of these delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is known to be the most psychoactive chemical. This chemical is converted into over 60 other psychoactive metabolites by the liver (Carroll 1993). These chemical reactions, however, have either proved insignificant or not enough research has been conducted to prove their importance. Researchers have been mostly concerned with the interaction of THC in the humanbody.

THC concentration in the human body depends on many factors. First of all, THC concentration varies throughout the plant.

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