Marijuana usage has always been a controversial topic. As Marijuana usage could lead dangerous effects on human body, it has been viewed negatively by majority of the people. However, as its medicinal properties came into the open, many have started viewing it positively. If one takes the supporting stance and favours legalization of Marijuana, there are many positive arguments going for it. Though Marijuana can cause severe ill-health problems, it has positive applications in health care industry as pain killer and for treating various ailments. Many ailments including muscle spasms, depression, even cancer, etc., are researched to be treated by Marijuana. Apart from treating the ailments, Marijuana are shown to play a major role in lessening the symptoms or the symptomatic problems like pain, nausea, etc. This way, Marijuana can positively impact the biological, psychological and even social aspects of humans. This paper deals with this contemporary problem and how legalizing Marijuana will aid the humans a lot in the above mentioned aspects.
Should the federal government legalize the use of marijuana for health care use?
Marijuana or Cannabis sativa with its narrow serrated leaves grows in almost all parts of the world. Marijuana is the “dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa” (Shohov, 2008). The chief active ingredient is Delta – 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). As Ashton, (2001) states THC can alter the person’s mood because it acts as the primary psychoactive agent. It binds to the cannabinoid receptor of the brain and acts as a partial agonist. Kumar, Chambers, Pertwee (2008) provides further perspective about the role of THC by stating that THC binds to the receptors that are present at the neuronal lipid membranes and acts as neuromodulators. These receptors are found to be responsible for the psychomotor, cognitive and physiological effects in human beings. So, after binding to these receptors, THC releases the dopamines through which THC can alter the memory, learning, cognition, food intake, body temperature maintenance, endocrine functions and motor behaviour. (Ashton, 2001).
Marijuana is used as a medicine from ancient time and the Western world is using Marijuana for medicinal purposes from 1850. Goode (2009) states that Marijuana has played a medicinal role in every area of the world in which it was grown, including U.S., where from Colonial days until well into the first half of the Twentieth century, it was used to cure a variety of health ailments. Kumar, Chambers, Pertwee (2008) states that it was the prescription drug in USA till 1941 but it was removed from the pharmacopeia list on 1941 when Marijuana Tax Act was brought in by the Congress. After 1941, the Congress prevented the prescription of Marijuana by the physicians. The patients, who constantly used in, were left in stagger because there was no other alternative for Marijuana. As Marijuana has a lot of benefits in treating various ailments, it has to be brought back into medical practice, through the legalisation process. The medical benefits which are brought by Marijuana positively impacts the patient’s living, by aptly treating or even lessening their disease and suffering.
Many studies have concluded that Marijuana acts as a pain reliever in many diseases. Shohov (2008) states that taking Marijuana in measured quantities can ease pain, that is associated with many diseases. “Many studies have found cannabinoids are integral to the body's pain mechanisms. In addition, patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other ailments attest that Marijuana helps ease their pain” (Chaboya-Hembree, n. d.). However, Pope et al. (2001) provides a counter perspective by stating how continued use of marijuana for pain relieving purposes could have adverse effects on learning and memory, which can last many days or weeks. Kumar, Chambers, Pertwee (2008) comes up with a balanced opinion by stating that any pain reliever including pharmaceutical drugs when used continuously would make the patient dependent or addicted to it, so the correct approach is to use Marijuana in measured and apt quantities to utilize its pain-relieving abilities. Marijuana is also shown to be an effective muscle relaxant and when used in correct quantities can relax muscles during conditions of music spasms mainly seen in medical complications like Multiple Sclerosis and Spinal Cord injuries. Goode (2009) points out these benefits of Marijuana by stating how it relaxes the nerve cell nodules, thereby treating muscle spasms. Chaboya-Hembree (n. d.) discusses about a survey involving British and American Multiple Sclerosis patients, who after ingesting Marijuana showed “substantial improvements in controlling muscle spasticity and pain”. Loss of appetite is a severe condition in the AIDS patients. Various studies have found about the role of Marijuana as a good appetite stimulator. “In the U.S. and elsewhere, Marinol, a drug that is a synthetic form of Marijuana and contains its active ingredient, THC, is available by prescription to treat loss of appetite associated with weight loss in AIDS patients.” (Kirchheimer, 2003). By consuming Marijuana, AIDS patients can have accentuated appetite, leading to better consumption of healthy food. However, as Shohov (2008) implies that it cannot be permanent cure for any disease including AIDS, and can only treat or lessen the associated symptoms. Among the many medical complications, Cancer is a major one is which affecting people all over the world, with sizable patient succumbing to the problem. However, Marijuana is found to treat cancer if it is aptly used along with the chemotherapy by the German researchers. They conclude that the cancer cells can be inhibited by the Marijuana from cell differentiation and thus cancer can be treated. A web article released by the Marijuana Legalization Organization (n. d.) provides details about the German Study conducted in 2008, stating how the researchers at the University of Rostock in Germany found clues about how some components of Marijuana could clearly interact with the cells to block tumour growth. Kumar, Chambers, Pertwee (2008) and Marijuana Legalization Organization (n. d.) put forward additional The researches conducted in Harvard University and Madrid's Complutense University, which also reported that the Delta – 9 tetrahydrocannabinol, found in Marijuana, was found to destroy the tumour cells in the rats and thus reducing the lung cancer more effectively. However, quite ironically as pointed out by Goode (2009) and Pope et al. (2001) Marijuana makes a major negative impact on the lungs. As lungs get the first deposit of Marijuana and its component carcinogenic smoke, it increases chances of lung cancer, more than normal smoking.
The problem of marijuana is increasing rapidly. Marijuana is being produced on a large scale, in spite of restrictions placed by the government. From earlier centuries, Marijuana has been used as a medicine in the Asian countries and also in Europe, because of its pain killing properties. In addition as stated by Shohov (2008) banning or even prohibiting trafficking and sale of Marijuana may not fully eradicated the Marijuana market, but merely drives it underground, which has numerous unwanted consequences, starting from organized mafia, violent crimes, street clashes, etc. So, legalizing Marijuana has good positive impact, as it discourages crime, improves productivity and at the same time optimizes health of the suffering patients. As discussed above with the views from various experts, researchers and authors, Marijuana can provide good medical benefits.
When individuals are diagnosed with serious and life threatening diseases, ailments, or malfunctions, his/her life as well as their associated and related lives will come crashing down. His/hers’ personal as well as professional life will be totally ‘derailed’. In that depressing situation, any medical treatment, which can treat their medical condition, or even lessen the sufferings associated with that medical condition, will be seen as a great boon. However, when that boon appears to be a bane for other humans, it will lead to problems. This analogy can be seen in the medical treatment potential of Marijuana in treating various chronic diseases, however, which is also used by sizable people in a destructive and health harming manner. That is, Marijuana has been and still being used by people in an addictive manner to get some dubious mental pleasure. However, at the same people suffering from certain health problems are viewing Marijuana as one of the effective treatment option. Although marijuana, if used excessively and without medical practitioners’ supervision, is harmful to the physical and mental health, the same medical practitioners can use Marijuana or Medical Marijuana to treat or lessen physical and mental pain. So, this paper will argue how marijuana can be an effective treatment option for wide range of diseases and other medical complications, thereby justifying the argument that if Marijuana is legalized it will can be used in a more optimal manner for many medicinal purposes.
Marijuana can benefit human beings, if it is used as a medicine. However, only when people use marijuana to derive pleasure from it, then it can ruin the mental and physical health of the user. If the use of Marijuana is maximally limited for medicinal purposes, minimizing other misappropriation, it can work out to be effective drug for many medical ailments. Marijuana is consumed by people belonging to different ages and professions. “…researchers showed that there is no such thing as a 'typical' marijuana user, but that people of all ages are selectively lighting up the drug as a way to enhance activities.” (University of Alberta, 2008). The cultivation of marijuana is an offense in various countries but still its cultivation has not been stopped. On the contrary there is rise in its cultivation. This situation is prevalent in numerous countries. The extent to which the problem of marijuana is prevailing in countries all over the world can be judged by the rising number of people who are addicted to marijuana. However, Marijuana is used by the common people as an addictive behaviour for “mental pleasure”. When Marijuana is inhaled as smoke, it reaches the lungs and is readily absorbed by the blood stream and reaches the brain in minutes. 25- 30 % of Marijuana reaches the blood and the bioavailability of the drug is very less. A high concentration of THC can be maintained by the body and released to the brain at a constant rate. The cannabinoids are metabolised in the liver. After the metabolism is over, they are excreted thro urine (25%) and the gut (65%).(Ashton, 2001).
The Marijuana has a lot of beneficial effects because of its pain killing properties and the interaction of this cannabinoid in the nerve cells. Many physical and mental complications associated with many diseases are treated and ‘relaxed’ by the use of Marijuana. The pain reducing effects of the chief active component Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol makes the wonder. The THC binds to the cannabinoid receptor of the nerve cells present at the brain. The THC binding interrupts the signals that are transferred through them. Thus, it prevents the pain signals from being transferred to the brain and the patient will feel comfortable without pain. The studies have proved that Marijuana is the best pain reliever, reducing both physical as well as psychological pain, and has no side effects. So Marijuana should be legalized.
Marijuana is found to cure nausea very effectively and so used for the treatment of nausea in the case of cancer and AIDS patients. Chemotherapy for cancer leaves lot of pain and side effects such as nausea, the use of Marijuana helps these patients to get relaxed from these. So, when treating these severe diseases, Marijuana can be used by the patients to get relief from these side effects. “Marijuana can provide critical relief for persons suffering from acute or chronic nausea and vomiting who do not respond to conventional therapies.” (Riffle, 2010). When an individual has cancer or AIDS, he will undergo a lot of mental trauma, and this nausea will further add to the physical pain and that trauma. In that case, Marijuana by effectively treating and controlling nausea can provide physical and psychological support.
Marijuana is also found to reduce the Muscle Spasticity in the patients with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. They are found to have antispasmodic and muscle-relaxant properties. The Marijuana as a crude powder has around 60 active compounds containing cannabinoid as the chief active part. When Marijuana is given to the patients, the cannabinoid binds to the relevant receptor in the nerves, and acts as a relaxant on the muscles tightened by spasms. Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease and Tourette's syndrome are some of the movement disorders seen more common among the elders. The problems at the basal ganglia and the subcortical connections lead to this disease. The cannabinoid receptor concentration is high at cerebellum, basal ganglia and hippocampus. The basal ganglia are found to control the unconscious muscle movements and the motor coordination can be taken care of when Marijuana is taken in. Thus it can help the elderly people to control the motor coordination activities. In addition, Marijuana by being an appetite stimulant can aid AIDS patients to eat regularly and aptly. As a result, the AIDS patients will be able to receive the correct amount of nutrients for their body and that increases the immunity level, even leading to betterment of their condition. As discussed about, Marijuana is also found to stop nausea, and as a result, the food taken in will be utilised by the patient’s body effectively. Thus Marijuana was proved to increase the life span of the AIDS patients without pain. Marijuana is also found to cure cancer apart from playing a key role during the treatment stage. There are studies to support the efficacy of Marijuana in the treatment of cancer. THC, which was found to be a psychoactive agent, is also found to have anti- cancerous activity, increasing the voice for the legalization of Marijuana usage. THC has antidepressant effect as well. If THC is used at low concentrations, then they can be used for the treatment of various mental disorders. A concentration of 2.5 mg of the dry leaves or powder when given through smoke can create a feel of intoxication resulting in relaxation and decrease in tension, anxiety and depression. The sociability of the person gets increased. (Ashton, 2001). Marijuana helps to relax the nerve cells and reduces the depression and thus relaxes the mind. The relaxed condition of the patient influences the confidence level. This is the main reason for the psychiatrists to recommend Marijuana to be legalised.
However, at the same time, Marijuana is found to impair the cognition and psychomotor performance if they are taken routinely at high concentration. The response to an action may get slower, the short term memory loss may get higher as days proceed, difficulty in concentration can occur with impairment of the sensory organs. Researchers have also concluded that Marijuana’s adverse effects on learning and memory can last for days or weeks (Pope et al., 2001). Thus, care should be taken, not to provide Marijuana based treatment beyond certain limits. Unfortunately, if the treatment exceeds limits and leads to addictive behaviour, then the patient has to be given optimum care and rehabilitation. This being the case, when an individual is being withdrawn from Marijuana addiction, it has to be used aptly. The tolerance level was shown to be higher for the Marijuana and the withdrawal of Marijuana should be done by reducing the dose concentration gradually to zero concentration. The body should be made to adjust slowly back to the normal mechanism. If the withdrawal is done so fast then anxiety, restlessness, increased depression, anorexia, muscle tremor (with difficulties in hand-eye coordination) and insomnia may occur, leading to negative effects. Thus, even when using Marijuana for medical treatment, only apt and measured quantities of Marijuana have to be used. Steps should be taken so that the patient takes Marijuana under the direction or supervision of medical professionals, without any form of self-medication or through over-the-counter drug purchase options.
The stress on legalisation of Marijuana usage for medical purpose is increasing day –by-day. The American government, which was against the usage of Marijuana earlier have now started to accept medical Marijuana. The first state to accept it was California. The initiation for this acceptance was carried out by the San Francisco Assembly man Tom Ammiano, who brought legislation for the legalisation of Marijuana. The then Californian governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, toned down his anti-Marijuana stance, and fully backed the legalization process, even appealing to the lawmakers about the chances of legalizing Marijuana. In the United States, 14 states, including California have come up policies that allowed cultivation and use of Marijuana for medical purposes under certain diagnoses, and only on the advice of a doctor. “Schwarzenegger signed a piece of legislature that decriminalized possession of Marijuana to a mere traffic ticket and the fine was set at $100 for possession of up to one once (28 grams) of Marijuana and there will be no arrest record” (Harney, 2011). In addition, California went ahead with the passing of the Proposition 215 or Compassionate Use Act, which provided legal protection from any criminal prosecution for the individuals who are allowed to use Marijuana on the basis of doctor’s recommendation. The medicinal value of Marijuana should be focused much. The Miron report (2005) also strongly recommends that the use of Marijuana should be legalised and taxed heavily so that this would limit the use of Marijuana illegally. If the price of actual Marijuana for one gram is five dollars then it should be sold for twenty dollars such that the tax is high and people will buy less and the revenue will be good. Importantly, with these backings from the government through various legislations and regulations, the illegal use of Marijuana can be maximally restricted, paving the way for medical use.
American people are in favour of the legalization of Marijuana with “72 percent of respondents in an AARP survey agree that “adults should be allowed to legally use Marijuana for medical purposes if a physician recommends it.” (Koppen, 2004). They say that Marijuana has good ability to treat the chronic diseases and so this should be legalised and used for the welfare of the mankind. The view is, all the things created in this world have both good and bad effects equally and Marijuana is no exception. However, Marijuana can be used by many people to get relieved from the physical and mental stress. As pointed out above, Marijuana legalisation can create good revenue to the government and at the same time will save patients from the pain. Instead of preventing the usage of Marijuana, the sale and movement of Marijuana should be monitored and the persons having the exceeding limit of Marijuana should be punished. The government should punish abusers and at the same time educate the public against irresponsible use, and businesses and schools still could take steps to prohibit the use of the drug. (Ruschmann, 2004). Pharmaceutical Companies can come up with “medicinal Marijuana”, which should be designed in such a way, that they have a very low dosage level of the active ingredient and should be sold only under prescription. This is the key step because it can regulate the sale of Marijuana, with only the needy, that is, only the patients who need for medical treatment, have access to it. Accordingly, Medicinal Marijuana can be manufactured catering to each disease, ailment or complication, so that apt dosage can be given. Thus, by preventing trafficking and possession of Marijuana for non-medicinal usages, and importantly legalisation of it for medicinal usage, the beneficial effects of Marijuana can be effectively used for the wellbeing of the mankind.
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