Cannabis Sativa Essay, Research Paper
Marijuana is available anywhere in the world, as the black market is widespread and thriving very well. It has even started to be widespread in local malls where all kinds of hemp (marijuana) products for everyday use are becoming available. Marijuana goes under many names like Pot, Grass, Hash, Reefer, MaryJane, Weed and there are also names that depict the potency and place of origin like Bungo the Egyptian weed, Ganja the Jamaican weed, and Beu the French weed.
Hemp products cover a huge range of uses from paper, cloth, beauty products to dog biscuits. The hemp or marijuana (marijuana and hemp are the same plant Cannabis Sativa, marijuana is the type grown for use as drug, while hemp is very low in THC and is not considered a drug.) Plant also produces 40% more oxygen than any other plant. Marijuana is the most widespread drug in the world, if only hemp could be the most widespread crop in the world.
Marijuana is a plant, with the botanical name of Cannabis Sativa. Marijuana is a weed that grows wild and is cultivated in many parts of the world. Containing 419 chemicals, this plant has the ability to intoxicate its users, primarily because of the psychoactive mind altering ingredients called Delta – 9 – Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It is the THC content found at various concentration in different parts of the plant, which determines the potency.
The THC content is controlled by plant strain, climate, soil conditions, and harvesting, in 1975, the average confiscated sample of marijuana contained 0.4 percent of THC, in 1979 the content was about 4 percent and in the 80’s about 7 percent, “today the THC content goes up to about 40 percent” (Woodard 42). This high potency marijuana is grown using hydroponics. Hydroponics is a process that exposes the plant to extreme heat and light (1000 watt projectors with aluminum foil all around the plant), sparse water (practically forcing the roots to break out below the pot) sometimes a constant small flame creating more CO2 in order for the plant to work even harder to produce more oxygen through photosynthesis.
Grass (dried marijuana off the stem) is smoked, cooked with a variety of foods from cakes to spaghetti and drunk in many different types of beverages. Most marijuana users roll it in a cigarette called, Joint, doobie, spliff, and a few other nicknames. It can also be smoked in all kinds of pipes and water pipes. These days the open and legal sale of all kinds of marijuana paraphernalia such as bongs, rolling machines, pipes, T-shirts, stickers and a lot more, all flashing the famous 5 leaf symbol of marijuana.
“Hashish or Hash, is nothing more than the essence of the marijuana plant extracted and hardened into a block” (Powell 37), Hash is usually smoked in a pipe, although there are many recipes that imply it as a cooking ingredient. Some people say it has a different affect than weed but this is not true, “with the exception being that hash is a good deal stronger” (Powell 38). Hash is a lot more expensive than grass. It can be smoked either in a pipe or by mixing it with tobacco in a cigarette, traditionally, Hashish has been smoked in a hookah or water pipe (Stewertka 16). Middle eastern countries used a hookah most of the time because more than one person could smoke at the same time. It has also been used in the kitchen as far back as the early civilization around the Ganges River. Today, thousands of people travel to Amsterdam to sample or feast on all kinds of grass or hash food.
When people smoke moderate amounts of marijuana, it is reported that feelings of euphoria and relaxation are commonly experienced. Users experience an increase in heart and pulse rate, reddening of the eyes, dryness of the mouth, a mild decrease in body temperature , and on occasion a sudden appetite (The Munchies). There is no such thing as a marijuana overdose, high doses may result in image distortions, extreme paranoia, extreme anxiety, loss of concentration, slower movements and reflexes as well as time distortions.
The drug also impairs short term memory which makes it as dangerous as alcohol as far as motor skills are concerned. The effect of the drug lasts from 2-4 hours, once the high is gone, a person feels drowsy, tired and unmotivated, headaches have also been reported.
Long term users of marijuana risk cancer and other smoking diseases because marijuana smoke has a high tar content which damages the lungs when smoked, “one marijuana cigarette has 50% more tar than an equal weight tobacco cigarette” (Weis 22). Cannabis, when smoked, has 4 times as much cancer causing agents than cigarettes. Sometimes it also causes a sore throat, rhinitis, and bronchitis, Marijuana can also interfere with reproduction by altering and affecting fertility, damaging the chromosome of the germ cells of the male or female. It can also directly affect fetal growth and development.
THC and other compounds inhibit DNA and RNA and inhibits cell division, cannabis can also interfere with the immune system. In short, long term use may produce lung damage, impair reproductive functions cause long-lasting disturbances of behavior and brain function and lower resistance to infection. Long-term use of marijuana also affects long-term memory as well as short-term memory. Yet at the same time, marijuana could be used as a medicine prescribed as a treatment or cure for certain illnesses.
Marijuana is proven non-addictive physically but is considered psychologically addictive. A tolerance to marijuana’s THC does develop, “which means more and more marijuana must be used over time to achieve the high experienced by using smaller amounts” (Stwertka 49). Yet no matter how much is smoked the high will never be as memorable as the first time. withdrawal symptoms of marijuana are insomnia, hyperactivity, and decrease of appetite (Peron 21). Violent mood swings are also common.
Over fifty different compounds have been found in marijuana. Because they are derived from cannabis, they are called cannabinoids. At least six of these are known to be psychoactive. The most important psychoactive chemical in cannabis is THC. THC is not found anywhere else in nature. “It has a chemical structure which is not like that of any other psychoactive drug” (Stwertka 45). Also, among the cannabinoids are cannabinol (CBN), canabidiol (CBD), and cannabichromine (CBC) are some of THC’s psychoactive chemical cousins. These compounds affect the brain and nervous system.
Cannabis plants grown in different parts of the world are not identical in chemical make-up for example Jamaican Ganja has different proportions of THC and CBN from the Mexican plant (Acapulco Gold).
The different parts of the plant contain different amounts of THC. The bract that covers the seeds may contain 10% or more, but the leaves might contain 1 0r 2 percent, the THC content of the plant decreases in the following order: Bracts, flowers, leaves, small stems, large stems, and roots and seeds (Stwertka 47). Any particular combination of the fifty or more different cannabinoids depends on temperature, water, soil condition, and the variety of the plant itself.
To study what happens to cannabinoids once they have been smoked or eaten, scientists use a fascinating technique called tagging. It makes use of a radioactive form of chemical elements, usually carbon. The radiation involved is not strong enough to be harmful. Scientists replace one of the carbon or other atoms in THC with a radioactive atom, the THC behaves exactly the same as before, but now it has a tag attached to it. By using instruments for detecting radiation, researchers can follow the tagged substance in the body. Studies with tagged THC show that when marijuana is smoked, only about 50 percent or less of the chemical enters the bloodstream through the lungs. When marijuana is eaten as much as 95 percent enters the bloodstream through the digestive system.
When THC enters the body, the blood carries it to the liver, There it becomes transformed through metabolism. The result of this process is metabolite of THC that is a potent psychoactive chemical. THC and its metabolite are not water soluble, but they are extremely soluble in fats. As they pass through all parts of the body, they encounter fatty tissue everywhere. They pass through the adrenal glands, the lungs, testes, ovaries, kidneys and brain. They can enter any kind of cell and accumulate in every organ. Since they are not water soluble, the body cannot easily wash them out.
Marijuana can be detected for 40-90 days in the blood and urine. However, it can always be detected in the hair. “but that test is costly and seldom done” (Fergusan 39).
In Amsterdam, marijuana is legal and sold in coffee shops all over the place, a person could go in and ask for the weed menu, one page for weed another for hashish. Names like, Shunk weed, Super Shunkweed, Red hair, White snow and many others. All cannabis sold in Holland is government approved. (Must be a tough job approving marijuana).
Hemp is the most amazing aspect of marijuana, a survey of the range of products today worldwide is enough to startle even the most avid hemster (Isachavure 54). There is a vision of a world fueled by hemp, where houses, house furnishings, foods and even all natural plastics could be manufactured by hemp. Hemp oil would free us of petrochemical dependency. Hemp paper would rescue the forests from the ravenous pillaging of the timber giants and hemp fabrics would eliminate the toxic from growing pesticide-laden cotton (Iscachanure 55).
Now these dreams are fast becoming reality. Hemp is being used as building material for houses, furniture candles, crayons, paints, food, all kinds of soaps and creams. Calvin Klein used 100% hemp for his 96 spring line. Nike and Adidas are making hemp shoes. Hemp was hardly noticed five years ago and today there are over 1,000 companies involved in hemp products only in the U.S. It is moving into the mainstream market, hemp is appearing in malls, and not just at Head shops, companies from all different areas of the fashion industry are coming into hemp, and its not just fashion, cosmetics companies are interested as well. “the fact that these big companies are using hemp, shows were not just a small-cottage thing run by a bunch of hippies who want to legalize pot which has been the stigma which has been put on hemp in the past” (Kane 27). Hemp is making great stride almost everywhere except America. Canada is allowing (Experimental) hemp cultivation for the second time this year, Australia has been conducting hemp projects for several years now, Germany planted for the first time in the year (97) South Africa planted in October (97), Switzerland is growing hemp, and China already has hemp production facilities. Hemp in the U.S.A. however, is still being defeated by the law. “the public perception that marijuana is dangerous has vanished, and benefits of industrialization and legalization are widely discussed in the media” (Hangly 27). More and more people are interested in the hemp industry. “Five years from now, nobody will be able to ignore hemp. It will be marked into more than 25,000 consumer products that will be sold in stores around the world” (Ferguson 26).
Hardly any other drug has so many stories and legends to it. Scientist have been accused of poor research on interpreting results according to their own moral notes. It seems that in most cases the outcome will depend on whether the researcher is for or against marijuana.
“marijuana, the wicked weed of the sixties, can be a good medicine” (Stwertka 65). Marijuana has been used as a medicine in the past. Today, researchers are still trying to find out exactly what cannabis can do. Marijuana in the medical world is still undergoing many experiments.
It is said that cannabis clearly controls nausea and vomiting in many chemotherapy patients. It is also used to stimulate appetite and weight gain in AIDS patients, people say weed cures migraines but “there are as many claim that marijuana, makes migraines worse, as better” (Dalen 61). A California study showed smoking marijuana reduced the damaging pressure inside the eye caused by Glaucoma. Cannabis can be used as painkiller and also helps reduce muscle spasms. No other drug has so many uses to it.
Marijuana has been around for many years. “historians tend to agree that cultivation of hemp started in China thousands of years ago” (Stwertka 55). The ancient Chinese grew vast quantities of marijuana for its perfect weaving cloth. The Chinese had little regard for the plants mind-altering affects because altering the mind meets with disapproval in such a culture. “The Hemp juice was therefore called. The liberator of sin” (Stwertka 57). yet, the learned Emperor, Shin-Nung mentions hemp in his pharmacy book, written about 2675 BC “he recommends it as a cure for sout, rheumatism, malaria, beriberi, constipation and absent-mindedness” (Stwertka 58). Many centuries later in the Chau period (about 221 to 100 BC), the pleasant feelings brought on by hemp juice were sometimes used for “enjoyment of life”. A Chinese work of the fourth century AD mentioned that drinking this juice makes one see spirits. Cannabis resin mixed with wine was used as anesthetic.
“In India cannabis was grown for the resinous juice of the female flower and its psychoactive powers” (Stwertka 59). An Indian legend says that, “a god brought the hemp plant from the Himalayan Mountain and gave it to humanity” (Stwertka 59). Marijuana kept one aloof from course reality and holds the world at some distance, looking at life with a whole new perspective. The drug helped people to withdraw from daily cares. Still also in India, like everywhere else, there were mixed feelings about the marijuana habit, some people thought a person should not use the drug to become successful.
Tribes in Northern Africa of the 13th century used the drug and later invented bongs or water pipes. Water pipes have long been used in middle eastern countries to smoke hashish. The smoke is cooled through the water then goes through long flexible tubes to the mouth, (like a hashish Shisha). In the Middle East this was the way to smoke hash. It was used to cool the smoke before it reached the mouth piece.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp, Washington, America’s first president, declared, “Make the most of the hemp seed, sow it everywhere (Hill 2). the original drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper. There is no evidence, though that during these years Americans ate or smoked parts of the plant (Mark 23). Probably, the fibrous kind of hemp they grew in a relatively cool climate simply did not produce much psychoactive material.
In Mexico Marijuana, was rich in mind altering chemicals, the plant grew freely and obtainable by everyone, “the Aztecs had long used Cannabis in religious ceremonies” (Stwertka 62).
In the early 19 hundreds people all around the world were using marijuana freely. During the early years of this century, Americans could buy any sort of drug at the pharmacy. This went on until people became seriously addicted and slowly the public realized the danger of the habit-forming drugs. Britain was the first country to outlaw the use of the drug in 1928. A decade later marijuana was considered illegal almost all over the world. In the 50’s and 60’s, marijuana use in America increased, it made people feel free, marijuana became a symbol of rebellion for the so-called counterculture (Stwertka 61).
In 1937 the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act prohibited the use, sale and cultivation of hemp/marijuana in the United States. In 1968 the drug was even restricted for research. Today carrying marijuana or selling small quantities would be considered as a misdemeanor, (In Egypt a person would be put in jail for three years). Sale of large amounts of the drug could cost someone thirty years in prison.
Marijuana remains the most commonly used illegal drug among the three grade levels. In 1996, the proportion of students that reported using marijuana in the past year rose to 18% of 8th graders, 34% of 10th graders, and 36% of 12th graders. Use of marijuana on a daily bases has also increased and mearly one in twenty high school seniors and one in thirty tenth graders was a daily user. In 1975, 47% of high school students smoked marijuana and in 1980 it went up to 60%, and now use of the drug has decreased to 45%, but is slowly rising.
In conclusion, more than 400,000 Americans are arrested each year on marijuana charges. People have been put in jail with murders and rapist just for carrying marijuana. The government doesn’t realize want marijuana can be used for besides getting high. “one acre of hemp will produce as much paper as four acres of trees” (Hill 2), growing hemp all over the world would save the rain forests. The hemp seed is natures perfect food, the oil from the hemp seeds has the highest percentage of a essential fatty acids and the lowest percentage of saturated fats. Marijuana as a medicine is safer than most of the drugs sold in a pharmacy. In 1988, D.E.A.’s own a administrative law judge concluded that “marijuana is one of the safest, therapeutically active substances known to man” (Hill 3). It has never been proven that marijuana has killed anyone by cancer or any other means. “More than 400,000 Americans die from diseases related to cigarette smoking each year. More than 150,000Americans die from alcohol abuse each year. But in10,000 years of usage, there is no proof that anyone has ever died from marijuana”(Hill 6).