Health Benefits of Marijuana

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Toni Porter
8-22-11
Quincy Norwood
English 1520
Research Project

Health Benefits of Marijuana

Can any health benefits be received from marijuana? Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in America (behind only alcohol and tobacco), and has been used by nearly 100 million Americans. According to government surveys, some 25 million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year, and more than 14 million do so regularly despite harsh laws against its use. Marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Around 50,000 people die from alcohol poisoning and 400,000 deaths attributed to tobacco smoking. By comparison, marijuana is non-toxic and cannot cause death by overdose. Under the Federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, cannabis is classified as a schedule one substance. Schedule one substances are defined as currently having no accepted medical use in the USA and having a high potential for abuse. Cannabis is the name of the genus to which the plant belongs. Three species names for Cannabis are indica, sativa, and ruderlaris. The preparation made from the stems, buds, and leaves of Cannabis is known as marijuana. Cannabis' psychoactive effects are caused by potent psychotoxins, which are present throughout its various forms (i.e. marijuana). The most well known of these psychotoxins, which is also it's primary psychoactive component, is delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC). There are many forms of THC; at least eighty derivatives have been synthesized and studied pharmacologically. The effects of THC range from euphoria and relaxation to anxiousness. From the various studies that have been done on marijuana, there has emerged evidence for marijuana having positive medical effects on people. Throughout history, cannabis has been a plant that has been used for medicinal purposes all over the world. By classifying marijuana under schedule one, is the government failing to acknowledge the many therapeutic advantages of marijuana? Pay attention the historical and current uses of marijuana and come to a conclusion on whether or not the beneficial effects of marijuana are conclusive enough for it to be used medicinally. THC is a highly lipid soluble molecule which is found throughout the male and female parts of the cannabis plant. The highest concentration of THC is present in the sticky resin that is produced by the flowering portion of the female plant. The THC content of marijuana varies depending on the section of the plant that is used. The presence of THC and THC metabolites remain in the body and can be detected in the urine for many days after use. Long before any research was ever done on marijuana, people used it all over the world for a variety of reasons. The oldest record of medicinal use of marijuana comes from Chinese texts, around 5000 years ago. Its exact origins are still unknown but most experts hypothesize that it originated from somewhere in Central Asia, north of the Himalayan Mountains. The Latin term cannabis had a Greek origin (kannabis) whereas the English word hemp is derived from Middle English hempe and the earlier Old English form henep or haenep. The term marijuana may have arisen from the Portuguese marihuango or the Mexican-Spanish mariguana, both of which mean "intoxicant." Marijuana is a term that indicates a preparation made from the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant from which the resin has not been extracted. The use of the term cannabis is international, yet its products and the plant itself can be called many different names. Central Asiatic nomads may have been the agents for cultural dispersion of the hemp plant throughout Asia. Warlike equestrian pastoralists inhabiting Scythia, a large ancient region in southeastern Europe and Asia used the hemp plant for textiles and intoxication. Herodotus, a famous Greek historian, stated that the "Scythian passion was inhaling the smoke of burning hemp plants." This was done by...
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