Medical Marijuana Essay Research Paper I decided

Marijuana And Medicine Essay, Research Paper

I decided upon the question ?Should Marijuana be Medicine?? because I wanted

to confirm my strong beliefs of an anti-drug policy, but after research, my

attitude towards medical marijuana changed because it seems the benefits far

out-weigh the risks. Of the 60 some chemicals unique to the marijuana plant, the

main psychoactive ingredient and the one for exploring the physiological as well

as the psychological role in the anandamide system is delta-9

tetrahydrocannabinol, or more commonly known as THC. The anandamide system is

concerned with mood, memory and cognition, perception, movement, coordination,

sleep, thermoregulation, appetite, and immune response (a). Cannabis is the term

used to describe the dried hemp spike. When burned and inhaled, the cannabis

receptors bond to the macrophages in the brain and spine, which control the

anandamide system. Macrophages are chemicals in the body, which attack the

infected areas in the body and help take away the waste from an injury (a). THC

acts as a catalyst in this process. It speeds up the macrophages? disposal of

the waste and is why therapeutic relief comes as such a rapid onset to the user

(b). Even though the THC bonds with the processes going on inside the brain,

there are few THC receptors in the part of the brain that controls the basic

life functions therefore making it impossible for cannabis intoxication to lead

to death (c). There are strong links to cannabis relieving aches and pains,

numbing the symptoms of opiate withdrawal, improving sleep, reducing anxiety,

and alleviating the vomiting, anorexia, and depression associated with certain

AIDS related disorders, specifically AIDS wasting syndrome(c). Some studies have

also shown that cannabis can relieve muscle spasms especially in multiple

sclerosis patients? (b). ?With smoked marijuana, patients get immediate

relief, whereas with the oral drug they get a delayed, big rush of

unpleasantness. ? Studies on animals have shown it could also quite possibly

be an anticonvulsant. Doctors have been able to make a synthetic delta-9

tetrahydrocannabinol, which they call Nabilone, that helps relieve nausea and

vomiting after chemotherapy and may pose as the strongest evidence that

cannabinoids do work (a). It is a non-psychotropic drug and therefore greater

accepted. Researchers have also developed a delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, which

they call dronabinol (a). This oral drug has proven itself in stimulating the

appetite of AIDS patients and has won approval from the American Food and Drug

Association; one of only three drugs approved for this treatment. This drug has

also been found to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties along with

possible anxiolytic , hypnotic, and antidepressant properties, which gives this

drug a profile unique to other man made drugs, and is compelling enough for

further studies (a). The adverse effects have also been studied and there have

been no deaths due to cannabis toxicity alone. Some of the most common side

effects include sedation, euphoria, anxiety, and paranoia, dry mouth, blurred

vision, and incoordination. Dependence can occur but withdrawal symptoms are

mild. The smoke is toxic and may increase the risk of cardiovascular and

respiratory disease (a). When I began this study, I was greatly opposed to

marijuana for whatever reason it was being used, but now that I have found more

information on the subject, my opinion has definitely swayed. I have attained a

greater understanding for how this drug interacts with the body and why it has

the effects on pain that it does. I think that if I were to compile more

research, especially now that medical marijuana is actually a respected topic

and no longer a joke, I think that I would find even more reasons as to why this

drug should be seriously considered for therapeutic reasons. One of the reasons

that this drug is so frowned upon is that society has taken for granted and

abused a very unique and possibly beneficial drug therefore almost permanently

attaching a bad name and delaying the necessary research which could be putting

millions to ease. (a) British medical journal Cannabis as a medicine The major

point that this article brought out was that delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the

active ingredient in marijuana more commonly known as THC, does ease a wide

variety of various symptoms from aches and pains to AIDS related disorders. They

described how patients told their doctors how effective cannabis is in relieving

aches and pains, numbing the symptoms of opiate withdrawal, improving sleep,

reducing anxiety, and alleviating the vomiting, anorexia, and depression

associated with AIDS related disorders. It also discussed how THC acts as a

catalyst in the anandamide system, which helps dispose of the waste from an

injury, and is involved with mood, memory and cognition, perception, movement,

coordination, sleep, thermoregulation, appetite, and immune response. They also

explained that there is a synthetic form of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol,

Nabilone, which is not psychotropic like the natural form and has been proven to

relieve nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy. There is another drug called

dronabinol, which stimulates the appetite of AIDS patients and is so effective

that the American Food and Drug Association has approved of it. All these

evidences help my argument that marijuana should be a drug available by

prescription but strongly regulated so misuse can be avoided. This article also

mentioned the side effects of cannabis, which include sedation, minor

psychological and physical systems, and mal interaction with the central nervous

system possibly causing depression. All of these negatives are minor when

compared to the wide list of benefits this drug can have. I found the most

information in this article and it was presented in a sophisticated yet

understandable way. (b) Issues in Science and Technology From marijuana to

medicine The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy asked the

Institute of Medicine (IOM) to determine the risks and benefits of marijuana and

their findings were displayed in this article. They found that marijuana is

potentially effective in treating pain, nausea, and vomiting but the therapeutic

effects and mild when compared to other medicines. However, a majority of

patients do not take well to these man made drugs and therefore would rather

smoke marijuana with no bad reaction at all. There is also conclusive evidence

that it stops muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients. All of these

findings support my side of the argument. They did say that there are also

adverse effects to chronic smoking which include increased risk of lung cancer,

lung damage, and problems with pregnancies, but when patients use the drug

strictly for medical purposes and not on a regular basis there is actually very

little risk. Tests have been approved for six-month trials on patients who seem

most likely to benefit. They want to make perfectly clear that the goal of these

tests is not to find reasons to make marijuana legal but to find new drugs

related to the compounds found in the plant, specifically, delta-9

tetrahydrocannabinol. Another point that this article brought up was that the

health hazards identified with marijuana use are from the smoke inhaled during

ingestion and not from the actual drug. Another advantage of marijuana that they

pointed out was that its drug effect has a rapid onset unlike man made drugs. I

felt that this was the least helpful article, of the three I found, in defending

my claim that marijuana should be used as medicine because I was able to find

the contained information in my first source and it was presented too novice.

(c) Consumer Reports Marijuana as Medicine- How strong is the science? This

internet site neatly outlined all the pros and cons of medical marijuana. It

first started with the harm it can cause and the effects it has on the brain,

which concern coordination and short term memory. Even when they were addressing

the cons of the drug, they mentioned that it is impossible to take a fatal dose

of marijuana because there are hardly any THC receptors in the area of the brain

that control the basic life functions. Another argument they brought up against

marijuana is that there are 50-70% more known carcinogens than tobacco smoke and

more irritating particles are sent to the lungs because there is no filter used

and joints are usually smoked down to the last fraction of an inch. Users also

try to hold the smoke in as long as possible which further irritates the lungs.

These arguments are from a user prospective though and more precautions would be

taken if the drug were being used medically. The article then went on to

describe the good marijuana can do. Less is known about the beneficial side

because the Government has refused funding so research, at this point, is at a

virtual standstill. The researchers that can afford it are interested in three

major areas: nausea from chemotherapy, AIDS wasting syndrome, and spasticity.

Physicians speculated that the one major difference between the synthetic

Marinol pills and smoked marijuana is that the smoke enters the bloodstream

immediately, allowing patients to control their own dose, whereas the oral

version is absorbed slowly over a longer amount of time and relief is not felt

as quickly. I felt that this was the second best article in helping to defend my

stand on medical marijuana. I learned from this process that there are books

located near the entrance to the library which give topics like the one I found

along with a brief summary of the question and a list of sources to use. That

book was where I found both my periodical and journal sources and really made

the research process an easy one. I also learned that it is easier to find one

good source and decide on your topic when you do so even though I understand

that that may not necessarily be the case each time a research report is

assigned. The authors of each of my texts, I made sure, are credible. Dr. Philip

Robson, author of Cannabis as medicine: Time for the phoenix to rise? is a

member of the British Medical Association and is a senior clinical lecturer at

Warneford Hospital in Oxford. The three authors of From Marijuana to Medicine

have high status positions and are respected in their field. John A. Benson is

dean and professor of medicine emeritus at Oregon Health Sciences University

School of Medicine, Portland. Stanley J. Watson, Jr., is coordinator and

research scientist at the Mental Health Research Institute, University of

Michigan, Ann Arbor. Janet E. Joy is a senior program officer at the Institute

of Medicine. There is no author stated for the internet site but Consumer

Reports is a well recognized and credible institution.

(a) British Medical Journal. Cannabis as a Medicine: Time for the phoenix to

rise? London: Robinson, 1998. (b) Issues in Science and Technology. From

Marijuana to Medicine. Washington: Spring, 1999. (c) Consumer Reports. Marijuana

as Medicine- How strong is the science?


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