Medical Marijuana Essay, Research Paper
Marijuana (cannabis) is a mixture of leaves, stems, and flowering tops of the Indian hemp plant Cannabis sativa.  Marijuana is thought by many to be harmful, but it has been proven in fact to be helpful for some people with certain illnesses. 
When I first started looking into medical marijuana as my research subject, I was curious to see what people my age actually thought about marijuana. I asked twenty of my peers, ranging in age from seventeen to twenty-two, “What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say ‘marijuana’?” The responses shocked me: six of them said “getting high,” four of them said “damaging drug,” and ten of them, fifty percent, said “medical uses.” The response that overwhelmed me the most was “medical uses” because at my age I have not thought much about marijuana being used for medical purposes, but instead for pleasure purposes.
According to Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base: “Marijuana plants have been used since antiquity for both herbal medication and intoxication.”  If marijuana has been used since 3000 BC  for medical uses, then why is it illegal today for most people to use it for these purposes? An article in CONSUMER REPORTS writes, “For the past decade the Government has refused to provide either money or marijuana to researchers studying the drug’s potential therapeutic effects, so this research has been nearly at a standstill,” quotes one writer for CONSUMER REPORTS.  “Science should know more about this substance by now, considering how long it has been in use,” agrees Harrison Pope also from CONSUMER REPORTS. 
Richard Brookhiser wrote in Marijuana Magazine, “A Government-commissioned panel of experts reported that there had been ‘an explosion of new scientific knowledge’ on the medical uses of marijuana.” 
Some medical professionals argue that there are already man-made drugs used for most of the illnesses that marijuana can be used for. “In fact, there is not one substance in this entire ‘Physician’s Desk Reference’ that is completely harmless,”  said Chuck Thomas at the Testimony Before the Institute of Medicinal Marijuana Hearing in New Orleans. “…while prescription drugs, defined as safe by the FDA, kill up to 27,000 and aspirin up to 1,000 Americans per year, cannabis kills 0 per year,”  according to the Bureau of Mortality Statistics. “Nearly all medicines have toxic,
potentially lethal effects, but marijuana is not such a substance…Marijuana in its natural form, is one of the safest active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical core,”  the Guardian Newspaper printed in 1993 on the issue.
“Compared with legal drugs…..marijuana does not pose greater risks,”  according to the Pharmacological Reviews: Health Aspects of Cannabis.
THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, has been produced in a pill form. MarinolÒ is one of the pills:
“The poor availability of MarinolÒ in aqueous solutions and its high first-pass metabolism in the live account for its poor bioavailability; only 10-20% of an oral dose reaches the systemic circulation. The on set of action is slow; peak plasma concentration are not attained until two or four hours after dosing. In contrast, inhaled marijuana is rapidly absorbed…variation in individual responses is highest for oral THC and bioavailability is lowest. It is well recognized that Marinol’sÒ oral route of administration hampers its effectiveness because of slow absorption and patients’ desire for more control over dosing.” 
“The pharmaceutical industry and regulatory system are addicted to the cult of synthesis. It’s as if every drug has to come out of a factory. God forbid that it might be natural. There’s an attitude that man can create a better ‘Garden of Eden’ scientifically,”  was one person’s view.
“‘Cannabis is one of humanity’s oldest medicines, with a remarkable record of both safety and efficiency,’ insists Dr. Lester Grinspoon whose unflinching advocacy of cannabis caused a storm in America and even led to death threats, ‘ I’d like to see the day when full potential of cannabis is recognized,’ he says. ‘Then it will be seen in the same light as other so-called wonderdrugs: penicillin, aspirin and insulin. People will look back and ask how people could have been so blind. There is no plant with so many therapeutic qualities. It’s one of the safest drugs known to man kind.’” 
“Cannabis does seems to be as effective, if not better, than existing drugs in dealing with spasticity and bladder problems of multiple sclerosis, the side effects seem to be more tolerable for some patients. Clinical trials
have all backed cannabis in being able to, not cure, but suppress some of the symptoms. Migraines could well be another case.” 
Marijuana has been “proven” to help in all these illnesses: “Experimentally Induced Acute Pain, Surgical Acute Pain, Chronic Pain, Migraine Headaches, Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting, Malnutrition in HIV-Infected Patients, Malnutrition in Cancer Patients, Anorexia Nervosa, Muscle Spasticity, Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Chord Injury, Movement Disorders, Dystonia, Hunnington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Tourette’s Syndrome, Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s Disease, Glaucoma, Osteoarthritis, Premenstrual Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder, Manic-Depressive Disorder, Pseudotumor Cerebri, and Diabetic Gastroparesis.” 
Julie Buring said, “We know that for some people it makes a difference.”  “Cannabis does have therapeutic properties,”  admits Dr. Heather Ashton.
One question raised about legalizing marijuana for medical uses is the theory that marijuana leads to other “harder” drugs. The Lancet Report in 1989: “The Dutch have shown that there is nothing inevitable about the drugs ‘ladder’ in which soft drugs lead to hard drugs. The ladder does not exist in Holland because the dealers have been separated.” 
Another question raised was about the removal of the ingredients in marijuana that give the “high” feeling. Paul Consroe from CONSUMER REPORTS had this to say about this question, “It seems that the same neurological receptor controls all the effects, the good and the bad.”
“The marijuana sold by drug dealers on the streets is sometimes laced with drugs or other contaminants,”  is another point of why marijuana should be made legal for the medical uses. This would eliminate a lot of the drug dealers, and the marijuana would then be completely safe and uncontaminated.
“Jailing sick and dying patients, in the name of public safety, is used by politicians trying to look tough on drugs. Under current law, the seriously ill who turn to marijuana for it’s possible therapeutic effects are subject to arrest, criminal prosecution, and incarceration.” 
“Legalizing cannabis wouldn’t do any harm to anybody. We should be concentrating on the serious business of heroin and amphetamines,”  is what one person for the “Guardian Newspaper” had to say.
“CONSUMER REPORTS believes that for patients with advanced AIDS and terminal cancer, that apparent benefits some derive from smoking marijuana outweigh any substantiated or even suspected risks.” 
I believe that with all the medical support medical marijuana has, it should be considered firmly within the Government. Who should we trust to make our medical decisions, the government, or trained physicians? For now we have no choice but to leave it up to the government because if we take it into our own hands, we could be facing criminal charges if caught.
 Brookhiser, Richard. “A Drug War Against the Sick.” Marijuana
Magazine. 22 Mar. 1999.
 “Bureau of Mortality Statistics.” 1988. U.S. Public Health Service
Statistics. National Institute of Drug Abuse Statistics. U.S.
Surgeon General’s Report.
 “Guardian Newspaper.” 18 Sept. 1993.
 “Marijuana.” Encarta Online. 1997-1999. Encarta Encyclopedia.
 Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. Janet E. Joy,
Stanley J. Watson, Jr., John A. Benson, Jr., Editors. Institute of Medicine. 1999.
 “Marijuana as Medicine: How Strong is the Science?” CONSUMER
REPORTS. May. 1997.
 Michael, Steve and Turner, Wayne. “Legalizing Medicinal Marijuana.”
The Washington Times. 7 Aug. 1997.
 “Pharmacological Reviews: Health Aspects of Cannabis.” 1986, 38:1,
1-20. pg. 17.
 “Testimony Before the Institute of Medicine’s Medicinal Marijuana
Hearing in New Orleans.” Thomas, Chuck and Buring, Julie. 22 Jan.