Medicinal Marijuana Essay, Research Paper
A Healthy Dose
The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 federally prohibits marijuana. Dr. William C. Woodward of the American Medical Association testified against this Act (Thompson, 25), realizing that prohibition would ultimately prevent marijuana use as a medicinal drug. His success was minimal, as only eight Americans with special permission from the federal government are legally allowed to use marijuana as medicine (Stumpsey, 14). The main factor that led to the negligible use of marijuana was The Controlled Substances Act, which placed all illicit and prescription drugs into five “schedules” (categories). Marijuana was incorrectly placed in Schedule I, defining the substance as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. Marijuana has been proven to aid dying patients with such diseases as glaucoma, cancer, AIDS, and neurological diseases. Also, it occurs only minor side effects when compared to the other leading medications on the market. The legalization of marijuana for medicinal use is a crucial policy that American politicians need to consider.
Glaucoma affects between two and four million Americans, and causes nearly 10,000 Americans each year to become blind (McCaffrey, 12). Traditional surgery is often ineffective, and all known legal medications for glaucoma present serious side effects. In the 1970’s, researchers discovered a new use for a pre-known drug, which was highly effective and incurred few side effects. This medication lowers the elevated eye pressures associated with glaucoma (McCaffrey, 12). The reduction of this intra-ocular pressure alleviates pain and slows the progress of glaucoma, prolonging sight. Yet, this drug –Marijuana– has been withheld from Glaucoma patients by the government for reasons that can only be explained by ignorance.
Marijuana’s medicinal purposes are not limited to the prevention of Glaucoma; it also is associated with the treatment of cancer. One million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year. The only known treatment, chemotherapy, uses highly toxic drugs. The debilitating effects of chemotherapy — vomiting, nausea, and loss of appetite — cause many patients to discontinue use of this potentially life-saving treatment. But if marijuana were to be used to compliment chemotherapy, these common side effects could be avoided, and more people would be perceptive to use chemotherapy. Medical studies consistently regard Marijuana as one of the safest, most effective anti-nausea drugs. The American Medical Association’s study claims that 90% of all patients smoking marijuana controlled nausea and vomiting (Stumpsey, 15). Also marijuana is predominately known to provoke the consumption of food, which would combat the loss of appetite associated with chemotherapy.
The widespread AIDS epidemic has progressively claimed lives in our nation. 242,000 Americans suffer from AIDS and more than 1 million Americans are now infected by the deadly HIV virus (Thompson, 76). HIV-positive people could smoke marijuana to alleviate many of the same symptoms as cancer patients. Marijuana effectively reduces the intense nausea, vomiting, and rapid weight loss caused by advanced HIV-infection and the highly toxic drugs used to treat AIDS. While the public’s attention of Marijuana’s medicinal use for AIDS is only recent, many HIV-positive people have been illegally consuming the drug.
More than a million Americans suffer from neurologic conditions –multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and spinal injury– which cause severe muscle spasms and chronic pain. Conventional medications barely treat these conditions. Marijuana limits muscle pain and spasticity caused by these diseases, relieving tremor and unsteadiness of everyday motions and helps these suffering people to live a more normal life (McCaffrey, 12).
One of marijuana’s greatest advantages as a medicine is its remarkable safety. It has little effect on major physiological functions. There is no known case of a lethal overdose (Thompson, 23). Marijuana is also far less addictive and far less subject to abuse than many drugs now used as muscle relaxants, hypnotics, and analgesics (Thompson, 23).
The chief legitimate concern is the effect of smoking on the lungs. Marijuana smoke carries even more tars and other particulate matter than tobacco smoke. But the amount smoked is much less, especially in medical use. If marijuana is openly recognized as a medicine, solutions may be found.
At present, the greatest danger in marijuana’s medical use is its illegality, which imposes much anxiety and expense on suffering people, forces them to bargain with illicit drug dealers, and exposes them to the threat of criminal prosecution. If marijuana were legalized for medicinal purposes, these suffering people would be able to obtain it in a safe secure manner.
Patients suffering from AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, and neurological diseases cannot receive the necessary medication –marijuana– to alleviate their pain because politicians in Washington “feel” that it may lead to abuse. What these politicians do not feel is the excruciating pain that their suffering citizens experience. The possibility does exist that marijuana abuse may increase with the legalization of it for medicinal purposes, but the benefit of marijuana for these patients outweigh the negatives of abuse. Legalizing marijuana will allow suffering patients cope with their diseases. A portion of society opposes marijuana’s legalization because it is immoral, but they should consider it is also immoral to prohibit patients from easing their pain.