February 11, 2004
Marijuana has been used by all kinds of people around the world throughout time. Even here in America marijuana has been used by everyone from the Native Americans to promote peace, to George Washington when he was an early hemp farmer (http://www.marijuana.drug-culture.com/). Why then must it be outlawed today? Its just not fair. What could be so bad about a plant? There are many good reasons why marijuana should be legalized, both for medicinal and recreational purposes. The illegality of marijuana is something that desperately needs to be changed. Everyday growing numbers of people are joining to support the cannabis effort and after reading this you will too.
First of all lets look at the most obvious reason to legalize marijuana, the economy. The United States economy isnt in the best shape these days, and if marijuana were legalized it would help the U.S. tremendously. Marijuana would become a multi-million dollar industry, bringing in as much, if not more, money than the alcohol and tobacco industries. Not only would the U.S. make money off of the plant itself; spin-off industries such as coffeehouses, tourism, and industrial hemp would also bring in money. With the decriminalization of marijuana the U.S. would also save money on the law enforcement costs of arrests, prosecutions, and imprisonment.
Now that the economy is up lets look at the other effects of marijuana legalization. With marijuana being sold in stores it would become regulated and therefore become safer for the consumer. Nowadays when you buy marijuana in the streets theres no way to tell what youre getting. Lots of dealers mix their marijuana with other more dangerous drugs in order to get their clients addicted. Legalization would put a stop to this and would also help to stop drug related violence. When people buy their marijuana from dealers on a street corner, they take the risk of getting robbed or even killed for their money. With everyone buying their marijuana from stores now, people would be able to purchase their herb virtually risk free.
If bringing up the economy and putting a stop to drug related violence arent reason enough to legalize the chronic then lets take a look at the medical aspects of marijuana. Throughout history people have used marijuana to alleviate pain, stimulate the appetite, and to relax, but marijuanas purposes dont end here. Marijuana can also be used to help relieve the symptoms of AIDS, paraplegia and quadriplegia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and glaucoma. With marijuana having all these medical uses, people have to literally break the law in order to treat their symptoms.
Chronic pain can arise from a number of different ailments. Severe pain is usually treated with opioid-derived drugs or a synthetic analgesic. Synthetic analgesics used, such as aspirin, Tylenol, and ibuprofen are often insufficient in alleviating severe pain. Marijuana not only alleviates pain, it also allows for clearer thought and normal activity when compared to alternate pain relieving drugs. According to http://www.whitman.edu/, Marijuana relaxes the nervous system and allows people to function mentally on a normal basis. Many people prefer marijuana because it doesnt have the side effects such as gastric bleeding, ulcers, kidney and liver disease, that some prescription or over-the-counter pills do.
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is one of the scariest diseases of our time. It causes a break down of the bodys immune system, allowing otherwise harmless pathogens to wreak havoc upon afflicted people. The nauseated feeling that accompanies AIDS cause the patients to be turned off by food and simply stop eating. Synthetic THC (Marinol or Dronabinol) has proven to be effective in treating AIDS patients. In a study that involved 139 AIDS patients, those patients that took synthetic dronabinol (a cannabinoid) showed marked weight gain but complained of undesirable psychological effects (http://www.whitman.edu/). Most of the patients said that they preferred smoked marijuana. Zidovudine (AZT) is the best known AIDS drug, but unfortunately it also lowers production of both red and white blood cells, damages the digestive system and can cause severe nausea and vomiting. Marijuana has been shown to counter the nauseating effects of AZT.
Cancer is defined by uncontrolled cell growth that eventually interferes with the rest of the bodys functioning. Cancer is now the number one killer in our nation and chemotherapy is the best known defense against it. Chemotherapy can cause side effects that include nausea and uncontrollable vomiting. These symptoms can often be alleviated, or at least eased, by a group of drugs called antiemetics, but it is hard for these drugs to take effect since patients keep throwing it up. Marijuana was determined to be a safe and effective antiemetic and was often found to be more effective than other drugs in many cases. The major active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, has been synthesized and oncologists have been able to prescribe it under the brand name Marinol since 1985 (http://www.whitman.edu/). This synthentic form comes in a pill and has been proven to be effective for some people, but it has some inherent short comings. Marinol contains only one of the more than 40 active cannabinoids in natural marijuana and its effectiveness is questionable for someone who is continuously vomiting.
Smoked marijuana has a number of advantages over its synthetic counterpart, Marinol. One factor determining the effectiveness of a drug is its bioavailability, or how quickly it can be absorbed by the body (http://www.whitman.edu/). Regardless of an individuals ability to absorb THC, smoked marijuana generates faster and more predictable results because it raises blood THC concentration to the desired level quicker. The effects of smoked marijuana can be felt almost immediately, so patients can, when smoking slowly, titrate the exact amount needed to alleviate their nausea. Members of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) have said that Marinol provided adequate relief to all or most of their patients. 44% of the members of the ASCO have recommended illegal marijuana to one or more of their patients and said that if it were legal, they would prescribe it (http://www.whitman.edu/).
With so many positive effects its a wonder that marijuana isnt already legal. Granted marijuana does have some negative effects when used in excess, but what doesnt? Even eating too many vegetables can be bad for you. The government needs to realize that by keeping marijuana illegal their doing more harm than good. Im sure that one day marijuana will be legalized and well all be able to enjoy its sweet benefits. America is just delaying the inevitable. Its all just a matter of time.
Some ailments that have been helped by the use of marijuana. Marijuanas Medicinal Feasibility.
URL: http://www.whitman.edu/biology/Stuproj/YoungB/diseases3.html (2/7/04)
The History of Marijuana in the U.S. Marijuana / History of marijuana in the U.S.
URL: http://www.marijuana.drug-culture.com/history/history.asp (2/7/04)