Should States Have Legal Control of Medicinal Marijuana?
Richard J. Radde
Columbia Southern University
The use of marijuana for medicinal treatment has recently been an argumentive issue in state politics. The intent of this paper is to inform the reader of the benefits of using marijuana to assist patients with incurable diseases and to prove that states should have the right to legally control the use of it.
State’s Control of Marijuana for Medical Use
Marijuana is the drug made from the dried leaves and flowers of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The active ingredient of marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is a sticky resin that is derived from the flowering top of the plants. It had been used for medicinal purposes as early as 3000 BC in India, Central Asia, and China ("Marijuana," 2005). There were over 100 documents written on the medicinal uses of the drug between 1840 and 1900, but in 1937 the Marihuana Tax Act was written to prevent it from non-medical use. This law made it so difficult to obtain that it was removed in 1941 from the list of drugs that could be obtained from a pharmacy. Marijuana was classified as a Schedule I drug in 1970 under the Controlled Substances Act as a drug that has potential for abuse, lacks medical use, and is unsafe for use under medical supervision (Grinspoon, M.D., & Bakalar, 1995, 1875-1876). The medicinal uses of marijuana have become a controversial subject again during the last decade. Research has shown that the drug is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions (Mack, Joy, & Joy, 2001). Marijuana helps patients that suffer from cancer, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS (Joy, Watson, & Benson, 1999). There has also been research performed on the uses of it against malignant tumors. Patients with cancer have claimed that life is more comfortable for them when using marijuana. The benefits of the drug are that it quells nausea, suppresses vomiting, increases appetite, relieves pain, and soothes anxiety (Grinspoon, 1997). Cancer patients experience nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy treatments. Some patients would rather die than continue with chemotherapy. The drugs that are given to ease symptoms of chemotherapy treatment either do not work or provide little relief. Researchers have proven that two natural forms of THC and two synthetic cannibinoids are effective in preventing nausea and vomiting that follows chemotherapy. A clinical study in the early 1970s consisting of 56 patients found that smoking marijuana suppressed chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting (Vinciguerra, 1988, 525-527). The conclusion was that THC does reduce vomiting following chemotherapy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already approved the drug Marinol, a synthetic form of THC, to be used when other medications are unable to control the vomiting. Smoking marijuana or taking a THC pill are equally effective in controlling vomiting and nausea caused by chemotherapy but most patients prefer smoking. Smoking raises THC levels in the body quicker and more efficient, and also a pill would be difficult to take for a patient that is nauseated and vomiting (Grinspoon, 1997). Weight and appetite loss are other symptoms that affect cancer patients. Marijuana stimulates the appetite, known as “having the munchies”, and slows weight loss (Mack & Joy, 2001). Multiple sclerosis victims suffer from stiff, aching, cramping muscles throughout their lives. People with spinal cord injuries also suffer from the same symptoms. The drugs that they take to relieve the pain often cause weakness, drowsiness, and other intolerable side effects. Several of the patients that have smoked marijuana report a decrease in muscle spasms and also aid them in sleeping (Mack & Joy, 2001). Polls taken throughout the U.S. show that the majority of medical marijuana users are...