Medicinal Marijuana – Chemistry Essay

In the earliest times of America, even before Christopher Columbus sailed looking for new lands, marijuana was being used in Native American cultures for many purposes. Even now it is being used for maybe more reasons than way back when, but also as in medicinal treatments. The only difference between now and then, marijuana is used more often than none for recreational purposes.

Illegal drugs have been used in experiments the world over to try to find some kind of use, if any, for treatments for pain. Morphine, which is still used today, as with any other of the controlled substances used, has its ups and downs. It is a very effective pain reliever, but in the same, morphine is highly addictive or habit forming. Other side effects are all more on the downside than positive and yet it is still being used because of its effectiveness to relieve pain quickly.

This is the same problem that occurs with most other illegal drugs that are used as medical treatments. The problem with using these highly “may become dependable” drugs is that, well, they have a tendency to become habit forming. Marijuana is no exception to this fact either.

In fact, many people see marijuana as what is called a gateway drug. A gateway is something like a door, once opened you can either go one of two ways. Go in or stay out. The Proverbial door that everyone is referring to is the thought process of “wow, that feels pretty good, I wonder what these other drugs will feel like to me?” Then you’ll start trying other drugs and get carried away, and if you can’t get help or get off the drugs, your life is pretty much over. Even when these drugs are controlled people will find other way to get their fix. On the other hand, while these controlled substances are used for just pain, marijuana is used for other treatment purposes as well as pain.

Written references to the use marijuana as a medicine date back for nearly 5,000 years. Western medicine embraced marijuana’s medical properties in the mid-1800s, and by the beginning of the 20th century, physicians had published more than 100 papers in the Western medical literature recommending its use for a variety of disorders. Marijuana, also referred to as cannabis, remained in the United States pharmacopoeia until 1941, removed only after Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, which severely hampered physicians from prescribing it. The American Medical Association (AMA) was one of the most vocal organizations to testify against the ban, arguing that it would deprive patients of a past, present and future medicine.

Modern research suggests that marijuana is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include: pain relief, particularly of neuropathic pain (pain from nerve damage), nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant, specifically for patients suffering from HIV, the AIDS wasting syndrome, or dementia. Emerging suggests that marijuana’s medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors and are neuroprotective.

Currently, more than 60 U.S. and international health organizations including the American Public Health Association, and the Federation of American Scientists support granting patients immediate legal access to medicinal marijuana under a physician’s supervision. Several others, including the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association support the facilitation of wide-scale, clinical research trials so that physicians may better assess marijuana’s medical potential. In addition, it was found that 44 percent of oncologists had previously advised marijuana therapy to their patients. Fifty percent responded they would do so if marijuana would be legalized. A more recent national survey performed by researchers at Providence Rhode Island Hospital found that nearly half of physicians with opinions supported legalizing medical marijuana.

Because of such a high demand of patients needing this type of treatment is getting more and more use since it has a high success rate. The only way that it is possible to be able to use and prescribe marijuana is with certain rules and regulations. For one, a qualifying patient must have a registry identification certificate from the Department of Public Safety that identifies a patient authorized to engage in the medical use of marijuana, the patient’s physician, the patient’s designated primary caregiver, if any, and the location of the authorized marijuana plants. This doesn’t mean that you can go and buy it off of the streets, you are given a couple of plants and tols how to raise them. The patient then has to harvest their own marijuana for their treatment.

Secondly, a qualifying patient and a primary caregiver may not jointly possess more than the “adequate supply.” If a qualifying patient and a primary caregiver possess, deliver, or produce marijuana in excess of the amounts allowed, they are subject to the criminal laws of the Federal and/or State governments. So not only is the patient given a certain amount of marijuana, they are responsible for making sure that they don’t “sell” or deliver, possess, or produce more than the prescribed amount alloted.

Also, Not every state in the U.S. have or allow the use of marijuana for treatments, but there are a select few that do have the use of it. Although, the use of marijuana, even not for medical use, is legal in other countries like Amsterdam and Canada, there are still rule and regulations for the possession and usage of marijuana. There are also certain laws that govern the use of marijuana in these other countries.

As with any kind of treatment or theories, there are myths that people either choose to believe or disregard. For instance, there is a myth that Marijuana’s potential health benefits are insignificant to the damages caused by smoking the drug. When in all actuality, Marijuana can be used by more ways than just smoking it. As far as marijuana being a gateway drug and leading to harder drugs, believe it or not, is also a myth. In science, the distinction between cause and correlation is a crucial one. A White House-commissioned study by the Institute of Medicine found that marijuana does not appear to be a gateway drug to the extent that it is the cause or even that it is the most significant cause of serious drug abuse; that is, care must be taken not to attribute cause to association. Moreover, claims about marijuana being a gateway makes no sense in the context of medical marijuana. Patients often use marijuana instead of highly addictive prescription medicines like morphine and Oxycontin. Medical marijuana is a safe alternative for patients whose other options are not as reliable or effective.

Further more, marijuana has the least amount of side effects of any other medicinal narcotic. Someone once said that, “God made pot, man made beer. Who do you trust?”. On a personal level the only reason that marijuana has not been legalized is because the government can’t tax the way that they can tax everything else. Tobacco is also grown almost the same as marijuana, but who do you know that tries to grow and make their own cigarettes? If marijuana was legalized, everyone would be growing and making their own type or amount of “pot” that they wanted! Not only that but people would just be getting high all the time. Not to say that they are not now, but there would be many more added to the already climbing numbers.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) either accepts or rejects a drug for medical use after receiving an application for a drug’s approval as a prescription medicine, being accompanied by supporting data provided by the company seeking to market that drug. Why haven’t medical marijuana supporters tried to take marijuana through the FDA’s approval process? A group of researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is actively seeking to do this, but the Drug Enforcement Administration is blocking their efforts. The researchers are trying to create a facility to grow specific marijuana strains under controlled, reproducible conditions to test marijuana’s efficacy for various indications. Such research is essential for FDA approval, but the DEA has refused to approve such a facility. Until this changes, the door to the FDA is blocked.

Has any notable medical marijuana research occurred since the FDA statement?
Yes. Among others, a University of California study found that marijuana effectively relieves peripheral neuropathy, a type of debilitating nerve pain that afflicts many patients with HIV/AIDS, with few side effects. And an observational study found that patients being treated for the deadly hepatitis C virus (HCV) were much more likely to be cured of the lethal virus if they used marijuana, apparently because marijuana relieves the side effects of harsh, anti-HCV drugs, allowing more patients to complete treatment.

So with all of the information that I has been able to come up with for your inquiring minds to only wonder about, you can make up you own minds as to wether or not marijuana should be used to help the people that could really use the help. Without having the side effects of other narcotics.


T. Mikuriya. (Ed.) 1973. Marijuana: Medical Papers 1839-1972. Oakland: Medi-Comp Press.
Joy et al. 1999. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base.
I. Galve-Roperph et al. 2000. Antitumoral action of cannabinoids: involvement of sustained ceramide accumulation of ERK activation. Nature Medicine 6: 313-319.

Health Canada legalized the possession and cultivation of medical marijuana on July 31, 2001.
R. Doblin and M. Kleiman. 1991. Marijuana as anti-emetic medicine: a survey of oncologists attitudes and experiences. Journal of Clinical Oncology 9: 1275-1280.
Reuters News Wire. April 23, 2001. “Physicians divided on medical marijuana.”