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Essay/Term paper: Marijuana for medicinal purposes

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Alcohol and Drugs

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Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes

In 1936 when Marijuana was made illegal it was considered a medicine in
good standing with the American Medical Association. At the time Marijuana could
be found in twenty eight different medical products and countless other consumer
products. On November 5th, 1996 California and Arizona passed propositions
allowing the return of medicinal Marijuana use.
The campaign in 1936 to make Marijuana an illegal substance was
championed by two large companies, Dupont Chemicals and Hearst Newspapers, that
gained financially by having Marijuana banned. For Hearst Newspapers it was to
protect the investment that they had just made buying a large amount of paper
trees. Marijuana can produce about 4 times the amount of paper per acre than
trees, and twice as many fibers per acre than cotton. (Hempnet 1) Hearst was
well aware of this and moved to ban Marijuana. Marijuana costs little to grow
and can be made into cloth, canvas, and other high quality textiles. The use of
Marijuana for textile production would have seriously hurt Dupont who had
invested heavily in both paper production and the use of cotton. In 1936 Dupont
joined Hearst and using scare tactics and effective lobbying were able to ban
the growth, sale, and use of Marijuana.
Besides denying the public of the use of Marijuana as a textile, food
source, and alternative energy source, these large companies selfishly robbed
many sick people of a drug that can help them. Marijuana can be used to combat
glaucoma, epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, back pain, asthma, rheumatism, arthritis,
migraines, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, and promotes appetite in some cancer and
AIDS patients. Drugs like morphine, valium, lithium, and codeine are regularly
given to patients and are far more addictive, having many more negative affects
than Marijuana. Marijuana "has little effect on major physiological functions.
There is no known case of a lethal overdose; on the basis of animal models, the
ratio of lethal to effective dose is estimated at 40,000 to 1." (Bakalar and
Grinspoon 1875) "Marijuana, like aspirin, a substance known to be unusually
safe and to have enormous potential health benefits. ... In fact in a 1990
survey, 44% of oncologist said they had suggested that a patient smoke marijuana
for relief of nausea induced by chemotherapy." (Bakalar and Grinspoon 1875) And
many times it only takes one or two puffs off a joint to calm the patient and
relieve their nausea and help increase their appetite. (Silverberg 1)
Californian and Arizona voters finally acknowledge the benefits of Marijuana and
acted to change the situation.
The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration maintains there is no
medical evidence that smoking marijuana has ever helped anyone, but it is
difficult to dismiss the testimony from many seriously ill patients and their
doctors that marijuana can ease pain, reduce the nausea associated with cancer
chemotherapy, stimulate the appetites of AIDS patients who are wasting away, and
lower the pressure within the eyes of glaucoma victims. " The traditional use of
Cannabis as an analgesic, anti-asthmatic, and anti-rheumatic drug is well
established. A British study also suggests that cultivation of Cannabis plants
rich in Cannabidiol (CBD) and other phenolic substances would be useful not only
as fiber producing plants but also for medicinal purposes in the treatment of
certain inflammatory disorders. CBD was found to be more effective than aspirin
as an anti-inflammatory agent." (Evans 361-371) The Food and Drug
Administration has approved a synthetic version of THC, a main ingredient of
marijuana, that can help in such cases, but many patients complain that it is a
poor substitute and is much more expensive. The alternative choices to smoking
marijuana, and there are a couple, but mainly pills are what's on the market;
they are suppose to have the same therapeutic effects that so many suffering
patients say they feel when they smoke marijuana. The leading capsule on the
market is Dronabinol; it's main agent is Cannabidiol. "In a Brazilian study of
Epileptic patients receiving Cannabidiol, (CBD), 4 were free of
convulsions, 3 had partial improvement, and 1 was unchanged." (Cunha 176) The
only problem with the pill is that it has to be digested, and for some one who
is suffering from nausea it is virtually impossible to keep the capsule down.
"Because it's a pill, and therefore slower acting, people have trouble adjusting
the dosage; they often find themselves taking too much. It also seems to cause
high levels of anxiety and depression" (Brookhiser 27) Unfortunately no method
other then smoking has seemed to help so many with the least complications.
What is needed now is a more thorough effort to test the claims from reputable
sources that marijuana may be a compassionate means of relieving suffering.
Many believe that drug enforcement authorities have instead cut back on research
out of fear that it would become impossible to limit marijuana use to those who
need it medically. The fears are understandable, especially given the rising use
of marijuana among teenagers today. But it ought to be possible to regulate
marijuana as a prescription drug if it is found to be of legitimate benefit for
sick people.
State initiatives are a clumsy way to set policy. The California
proposition, for example, is so vaguely written that it could lead to wholesale
distribution of marijuana well beyond the medical scope intended by those who
voted for it. It says nothing about withholding marijuana from young people or
from those operating dangerous equipment. It also suggests that a simple oral
recommendation from any doctor would suffice. That loose provision, designed to
get around Federal laws that bar doctors from prescribing an illegal substance,
makes abuse of the new law inevitable. The Arizona law, by contrast, requires
that marijuana be prescribed in writing by two doctors. But that measure is also
written too broadly. It says that many other drugs, not simply marijuana, may be
prescribed if permission from two doctors is obtained. Supporters of the
California measure did their cause no good by immediately lighting up marijuana
joints after it passed this last year and proclaiming that a legitimate
medicinal use would include smoking a joint to relieve stress. Dennis Peron,
originator of the California initiative, said afterward he believes all
marijuana use is medical -- except for kids. These actions made it obvious that
the goal of at least some supporters is to get marijuana legalized outright, a
proposition that opinion polls indicate most Americans reject.
Parents have legitimate concerns about the increase in marijuana use
among teenagers. Many who used marijuana a generation ago are struggling over
what to tell their children, but they need to realize that today's marijuana is
more potent than the version they smoked thanks to the invention of hydroponics;
a self-monitoring greenhouse setup intentionally to help cultivate marijuana. It
waters itself, adjust the temperature, and optimize the conditions causing THC
levels to drastically increase, and even cause crystallization of the plant
because of its high potency. Testing has shown the drug to be far more
dangerous to young people than was known in the 1960's and 1970's. It can be
particularly harmful to the growth and development of teenagers. California's
Attorney General, Daniel Lungren, has ordered state law enforcement officials to
interpret the law's language narrowly and require proof from those arrested that
marijuana is being used medically.
The Clinton Administration announced an aggressive campaign to combat
the state propositions, including criminal prosecution of doctors who prescribe
marijuana. That hard line makes sense for now; if the Government refuses to
investigate carefully the claims about medical use of marijuana, it will only
spur voters in other states to take the issue into their own hands. It is a
shame that a plant that can do so much good, has to be blacklisted because of
misrepresentation, and the ignorance by the general public of just how many uses
and advantages marijuana can bring man. From its industrial hemp, to its
medicinal relief this plant has barely scratched the surface and has hardly been
used to its full potential. As long as the U.S has narrow-minded politicians
marijuana will never have a real shot to prove whether it can be a wonder
drug/textile that many informed, rational persons envision it to be.

Works Cited

Bakalar, James B., and Grinspoon, Lester. "Marijuana as Medicine: A Plea for
Reconsideration." The Journal of the American Medical Association
273 (1995) : 1875. Brookhiser, Richard. "Pot luck: Any sick serson who
wants to use marijuana to help himself has to break the law." National
Review 11 Nov 1996 : 27-28. Cunha, J.M. "Chronic Administration of
Cannabidiol to Healthy Volunteers and Epileptic Patients." Pharmacology 21
(1980) : 175-185. "Did you know?" Hempnet Nov. 1995 , sec 2 page 1. Evans,
F.J. "Analgesic and Anti-inflammmatory Activity of Constituents of
Cannabis Sativa." Circo Medical Report 4 (1988) : 361-371. Silverberg, Ivan
M.D. Letter. Mayo Clinic Monthly Journal 34 May 1994 : 21.


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