About Medical Marijuana

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About Medical Marijuana

Marijuana is medicine. It has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of ailments. Marijuana (Cannabis sativa L.) was legal in the United States for all purposes - industrial and recreational, as well as medicinal until 1937.

Today, only eight Americans are legally allowed to use marijuana as medicine. NORML is working to restore marijuana's availability as medicine. Medicinal Value Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known. No one has ever died from an overdose. It is also extremely versatile.

Four of its general therapeutic applications include: relief from nausea and increase of appetite; reduction of intraocular ("within the eye") pressure; reduction of muscle spasms; relief from mild to moderate chronic pain.

Marijuana is often useful in the treatment of the following conditions: Cancer: Marijuana alleviates the nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite caused by chemotherapy treatment. AIDS: Marijuana alleviates the nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite caused by the disease itself and by treatment with AZT and other drugs.

Glaucoma: Marijuana, by reducing intraocular pressure, alleviates the pain and slows or halts the progress of the disease. Glaucoma, which damages vision by gradually increasing eye pressure over time, is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.

Multiple Sclerosis: Marijuana reduces the muscle pain and spasticity caused by the disease. It may also relieve tremor and unsteadiness of gait, and it helps some patients with bladder control. Multiple sclerosis is the leading cause of neurological disability among young and middle-aged adults in the United States.

Epilepsy: Marijuana prevents epileptic seizures in some patients.

Chronic Pain: Marijuana reduces the chronic, often debilitating pain caused by a variety of injuries and disorders.

Each of these uses has been recognized as legitimate at least once by various courts, legislatures, government, or scientific agencies throughout the United States. Currently, such well respected organizations as the National Academy of Sciences (1982), the California Medical Association (1993), the Federation of American Scientists (1994), the Australian Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health (1994), the American Public Health Association (1995), the San Francisco Medical Society (1996), the California Academy of Family Physicians (1996), as well as several state nursing associations have supported the use of marijuana as a medicine.

In addition, anecdotal evidence exists that marijuana is effective in the treatment of arthritis, migraine headaches, pruritis, menstrual cramps, alcohol and opiate addiction, and depression and other mood disorders. Marijuana could benefit as many as five million patients in the United States.

However, except for the eight individuals given special permission by the federal government, marijuana remains illegal-even as medicine! Individuals currently suffering from any of the aforementioned ailments, for whom the standard legal medical alternatives have not been safe or effective, are left with two choices: Continue to suffer from the effects of the disease; or Obtain marijuana illegally and risk the potential consequences, which may include: an insufficient supply because of the prohibition-inflated price or unavailability; impure, contaminated, or chemically adulterated marijuana; arrests, fines, court costs, property forfeiture, incarceration, probation, and criminal records.

Background:

The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 established the federal prohibition of marijuana. Dr. William C. Woodward of the American Medical Association testified against the Act, arguing that it would ultimately prevent any medicinal use of marijuana.

The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 established five categories, or "schedules," into which all illicit and...
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