A Legal High

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When most people think of marijuana, they imagine a teenager down in his basement getting high while his friends play video games. What people do not know is that the teenager had just got back from chemotherapy and found that smoking marijuana was the only way to stop himself from feeling nauseous. When people hear stories like this they do not know what to think about medical marijuana. It is therefore very important to look in depth at the effects and potential uses for this trending medicine. There is evidence that medical marijuana has been used since 2900 BC, though it and has been shunned for over the past 5000 years. In the late 1960s, marijuana made a comeback in the U.S. as a recreational drug, which gave it the bad reputation it has today. It is due to this reputation that it is illegal today though it has legitimate medical purposes. Medical marijuana has the potential to heal and treat millions of people as well as help out the country’s economy. For these reasons, the United States should collectively legalize medical marijuana to be prescribed to patients whose diseases and illnesses can be cured or treated by the drug. It has been and still is an exceedingly common misconception that marijuana is bad for the body, is addictive, and is a gateway drug. Before it’s appearance in popular culture as a recreational drug of the 20th century, marijuana was mainly used for medical treatment. The earliest recorded use of medical marijuana was in 2700 BC by the Chinese emperor Shen Nung. He “discovered marijuana's healing properties as well as those of two other mainstays of Chinese herbal medicine, ginseng and ephedra” (Janet, Mack). Ginseng and ephedra are very common in everyday life; ginseng is used throughout the United States in drinks and in dried form. In 1611 the Jamestown settlers brought the marijuana plant with them and used the plants fibers as an export (Segal). A book written by Robert Burton, an English Clergyman and Oxford scholar, suggests the use of cannabis for the treatment of depression. Another book, written in 1652 by the great British herbalist Nicholas Culpeper, states that he discovered that the marijuana plants grown in northern latitudes have a lower tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, lowering the psychedelic effects, while still treating the symptoms of gout, knots in the joints, and easing the pain of sinews and hips (Hosking, Zajicek). Two of America’s great Founding Fathers, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, wrote in their diaries and farm books that they grew marijuana during their presidency (Deitch). These two men were some of the most intelligent people in the history of America and they both believed it was acceptable to use. In the 1850s medical cannabis rose in popularity in the United States. It was sold over the counter as a “treatment for numerous afflictions, including: neuralgia, tetanus, typhus, cholera, rabies, dysentery, alcoholism, opiate addiction, anthrax, leprosy, incontinence, gout, convulsive disorders, tonsillitis, insanity, excessive menstrual bleeding, and uterine bleeding, among others” (Boire). Marijuana continued to be used throughout most of the nation without much opposition until 1911, when Massachusetts was the first state to outlaw it (Gieringer). From 1915 to 1927, ten more states passed laws prohibiting the use of marijuana both medically and recreationally. On February 19, 1925, The League of Nations signed a multilateral treaty restricting cannabis use to only scientific and medical use. By the end of 1936, all 48 states had enacted laws to regulate the use Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act, which declared marijuana as a drug with no accepted medical use. A year later on June 17, President Nixon declared a war on drugs, saying, “America's public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse” (Nixon). Later, in 1986, President Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which increased the penalties for marijuana possession and...
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