Medicinal Use of Marijuana

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Marijuana has been hailed as a prescription for many ills and physicians once used it to stimulate appetite, relieve chronic pain, and treat asthma and migraines. But is marijuana really a medical miracle? If so, do its clinical benefits outweigh its drawbacks? Should we legalize marijuana? Is medical marijuana really worth the risks? These are the issues one needs to think about before making the decision to legalize marijuana. Marijuana is a drug that is derived from the dried and cut leaves of the hemp plant known as "cannabis sativa". Marijuana has a variety of street names such as "grass", "Mary Jane", "pot", "smoke", "reefer", "herb", and "weed". The active ingredient in marijuana is delta tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana has been used throughout history and in many different cultures to change mood, perception, and consciousness (to get "high"). Its effects range from increasing creativity to provoking mystical experiences, to heightening the capacity to feel, sense and share. After alcohol, it is the most popular of what are called "recreational drugs." It has been used around the world for other purposes. In some primitive tribes of South America, Africa, and India, "cannabis" is used in religious ceremonies and for medical purposes. African mine workers have used it to ease the drudgery of their work and many Jamaicans use it at the end of the day to relieve fatigue. It has been used as an intoxicant in various parts of the world for centuries and in the United States, for the most part the 20th century. Marijuana was first described in print in a Chinese book of medicine, "Herbal," in the 2nd century B.C., and was used in China as an anesthetic 5,000 years ago. The ancient Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and East Indians used the drug to control muscle spasms, reduce pain, and to treat indigestion. It was commonly used in folk medicines in Africa and Asia. As early as 1611, marijuana was cultivated for its fiber in Jamestown, Virginia. In 19th century America, marijuana was used by the medical profession for treating spastic conditions, headaches, labor pains, insomnia, and menstrual cramps. It is still used as a medicine in the Middle East and in Asia ("History of Marijuana"). The controversy dealing with marijuana stems from the legalization of the drug for medical use. The written record on medicinal marijuana stretches back over 2,000 years. Yet after hundreds of studies, experiments and reports, there is still no consensus about its effects. Wildly emotional arguments rage about whether or not marijuana should be considered a legitimate medicine (Zimmerman). Can marijuana relieve health problems? Is it safe for medical use? Scientific data on controversial subjects are commonly misinterpreted, overinterpreted, and misrepresented ("Marijuana and Medicine"). Marijuana plants have been used for both herbal medication and intoxication. The current debate over the medical use of marijuana is essentially a debate over the value of its medicinal properties relative to the risk posed by its use ("Marijuana and Medicine"). Is there a possibility that the dying may be able to use marijuana as a form of pain relief? The controversy still reigns on within congress and the medical community. To date, marijuana is still classified as an illegal Schedule 1 drug by the Controlled Substances Act. It is defined as having "no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States." However, many states have recognized that medical marijuana does have medicinal uses. According to the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, thirty- four states have recognized the value of marijuana for medical conditions (“Acts of Love…”). What is the supporting evidence that marijuana can be used for pain relief? Advocates contend that marijuana can alleviate symptoms of AIDS, cancer and other illnesses, but opponents maintain that patients have other alternatives and legalizing drugs sets a dangerous precedent. Proponents of...
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