Marijuana (Cannabis sativa), often referred to informally as weed or grass among others, is one of the most widely used—and abused—illegal drugs in the United States and worldwide. Despite its illegal status in most countries around the globe, black market on the production and sale of marijuana continues to flourish. The use, and abuse, of marijuana and its legalization has long been a controversy among legislators, drug suppliers, users, and common people. The heated debate regarding the many-fangled issues regarding this has been a confused potpourri of mangled facts, hearsays, propaganda, fallacies and illogic. It has been, and perhaps always will be, a touchy topic. This paper would aim to provide a comprehensive analysis of pertinent information and arguments, which if not able to provide a satisfactorily empirical conclusion may at least lay foundation for personal judgment that would hopefully be based on more stable grounds, within the bounds of acceptable logic and objective data.
Facts on Marijuana
Amidst the controversies, and largely causing them, empirical data which is required for a logical argument is surprisingly hard to come by. Such data that supposedly aids informed judgment are released by two primary sources: the government and the advocates of marijuana legalization. Since these two factions are deliberately in opposition, the facts they release are often times colored by their personal stand on the issue. As such, those on the con side of marijuana legalization, i.e. the government, highlights and at times exaggerates the dangers of the use of marijuana, whereas those on the pro side underplays these dangers and assures the masses of its safety. Both sides utilize copious amounts of fallacious propaganda, clouding up the arena of empirical and objective thinking. In minimizing—if not completely obliterating—such biases, certain hard facts could be arrived at. Properties of Cannabis
In scientific parlance, cannabis is the general term referring to any number of methods of preparation for the utilization of the Cannabis plant (C. sativa), and colloquially known as marijuana. Cannabis is a psychoactive drug, i.e. one known and utilized for its effect on the brain and its functions.
Active ingredient of cannabis. C. sativa is known to contain the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This chemical has been shown to have partial agonistic (i.e. activating) effect on cannabinoid receptors B1 (CB1) found in the brain and spinal cord, as well as on the cannabinoid receptors B2 (CB2) on the immune system. Cannabinoid binding to these receptors (primarily CB1) causes mild to moderate analgesic effects, and are thus used pharmacologically. Since CB1 are found more densely in certain areas of the brain affecting “pleasure, memory, thinking, concentrating, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement” (National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA], 2010), it is in these areas that the mild effects of THC are manifested. These include a distorted or heightened time-space and sensory perception, mild analgesia, and euphoria.
THC is considered the active ingredient of cannabis—thus the potency of cannabis samples is assessed in terms of percent concentration of THC. However, often times a larger chemical component of cannabis is cannabidiol, which may act as antagonist to the effects of THC.
Methods of preparation and usage. Unprocessed marijuana is “a dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves”; processed forms include hashish, the resin form, and hash oil derived from this resin. (NIDA, 2010)
The most common route of intake of the drug is via inhalation of smoke. This is administered using, mainly, “joints,” cigarettes containing dried marijuana. Pipes, certain forms of steam inhalation similar to hookahs, and tea preparations also exist. (NIDA, 2010) Effects of Cannabis
Given the above...