Medicinal Marijuana – Health Essay

Commonly known as marijuana, cannabis is the worlds most used illicit drug. [ACDE] Dating as far back as 2500 B.C., Marijuana has not only been used for its feeling of euphoria, but also for medicinal purposes. The plant was first documented being used in the

ancient Chinese cultures as an effective pain killer when ingested. [Rawson] Texts from Pakistan confirm that marijuana was used to treat illnesses such as gastrointestinal disorders, insomnia, headaches, and pain relief; especially in childbirth. In the 1800’s, Marijuana was used throughout the world as a general pain reliever before the invention of Aspirin. Then, in 1937, the United States passed the Marijuana Tax Act to ban marijuana, becoming the third country to do so. Its only protestor was the American Medical Association; how ironic. [Rawson]

Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the mind altering and relaxing ingredient found in marijuana. On average, the THC content of marijuana is 4% but may vary slightly on the conditions of the plants growth surroundings. Sinsemilla is a form of marijuana made from just the buds and flowering tops of the female plants and averages 7.5% in THC. [ACDE]

In the 1970’s, a synthetic version of THC was designed in pill form known as Marinol. [ACDE] It has been used to treat Glaucoma, people undergoing chemotherapy and in some cases, for AIDS patients. Marinol has worked not only as a pain reliever but also to control nausea and increased appetite. Marinol is easy to regulate dosages and does not get the patient a high feeling, which may or may not affect the patient’s routine day. [Grinstead] Marijuana is known as a gateway drug and may lead to an addiction or a dependency.

Marijuana is mostly smoked which may lead to heart and lung disease, throat cancer and a decreased memory capacity. [ACDE] While driving under the influence of marijuana, the user is ten times more likely to get into an accident due to perception distortion. [Rawson] Smoking marijuana may create the user to experience paranoia as well as hallucinations. Frequent marijuana users achieve a higher likelihood of getting chest colds, bronchitis, emphysema and bronchial asthma. Regular use from males may even reduce sperm count. Women who smoke while pregnant have the risk of premature babies or babies with lower birth weights as well as possible health problems. [Grinstead] Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 substance, meaning it has no acceptable medical use. [ACDE]

Although there are some who believe that Marinol works great, most users who have also tried marijuana state that the drug is not nearly as effective. Many chemotherapy patients found that they were not able to ingest the pill due to vomiting and even swallowing the pill was difficult for some. [Grinstead] Many users also reported severe problems with Marinol, including side effects and announced to leaving the pill to smoke marijuana instead. [Wikipedia] Although there is no evidence supporting this claim, many patients have stated that smoking marijuana has helped them deal with many medical problems ranging from pain relief to even helping with the downfall AIDS provides. [ACDE] Researchers who were testing for marijuana intoxication found that smoking the drug actually reduces intraocular pressure which can cause blindness in glaucoma patients. THC may also aid in the prevention of atherosclerosis. [Wikipedia]

Marinal itself can cost a patient thousands of dollars annually while growing a plant which slightly easier. Immediate relief is sent to the patient when smoking marijuana therefore making the drug easily dosed. [Wikipedia] While many will argue that marijuana is an addictive drug and will lead to dependency, the same can be said about almost all prescription painkillers such as: Vicoden, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Valium and Xanax which have been major drugs leading to admissions in rehabilitation centers. [Grinstead]

In a study approved by the Food and Drug Administration, 250 patients were used to determine what worked better for them: Marinol or smoked marijuana? All patients had been referred by a doctor and had failed to reduce or control vomiting while having tried at least three other alternatives. In conclusion, marijuana seemed to be the favored treatment. A direct quote from the magazine, Compazine, states, “More than ninety percent of the patients who received marijuana reported significant or total relief from nausea and vomiting.” [Wikipedia]

In America alone, more than 700,000 citizens are arrested annual on charges of marijuana. [Grinstead] Not all of these “criminals” were using marijuana for medicinal or pain relieving purposes, but the knowledge that some aching man was arrested trying to soothe his pain is disturbing. Marijuana is a very debatable topic and will remain to be a very debatable topic due to the fact that not all people will agree with one another. Unlike many other drugs, marijuana provides a relief for suffering patients and many people have already agreed, including six U.S. states as well as the District of Columbia. [Wikipedia] The idea that it is not only a drug but an illegal drug is what is stopping many people from making the right choice and deciding that marijuana should be used to help suffering people dealing with problems that the majority of us could not even imagine.