Marijuana is the common name for a drug comprised of the leaves and flowering tops of the Indian hemp plant, cannabis sativa, which can be smoked or eaten for unique feelings. The active ingredient of marijuana, known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is concentrated in the flowering tops of the Indian hemp plant. In the USA, the legality of marijuana, found to be medically useful by some, has been a controversal topic for Today, the 5,000-year medical history of cannabis has been almost forgotten.
Cannabis sativa has been used therapeutically from the earliest records to the present day. Although the Chinese and East Indian cultures knew about the properties of this drug from very early times, the drug spread across the globe with progressing global discoveries (Nahas 2). However, the most valuable medical experiments were made during the 19th century. At that time, due to its analgesic effects, marijuana was prepared chiefly in an alcoholic solution used to treat tetanus, neuralgia, labor pain, dysmenorrhea, convulsions, asthma, and rheumatism.
Its use declined in the early 20th century partly because other more valuable alternatives became available — synthetic rugs such as aspirin and barbiturates. In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed. Designed to prevent non-medical use, this law made cannabis so difficult to obtain for medical purposes that it was removed from the pharmacopoeia (Randall and O’Leary The modern renaissance of medicinal cannabis began in the early 1970s, when several young chemotherapy patients claimed that marijuana was more effective for the relief of nausea, weight-loss, and loss of appetite.
Advocates argued that medicinal marijuana countered the side effects of chemotherapy and word spread rapidly; by id-decade, the capacity of marijuana to lower intraocular pressure had been observed. As the AIDS epidemic became prevalent, patients began to use marijuana to decrease the pain caused by AIDS and AIDS-related diseases (Randall and O’Leary 200). These new medical uses of cannabis led to wider folk experimentation. The use of marijuana in the symptomatic treatment of convulsive disorders, migraine, insomnia, and dysmenorrhea was rediscovered.
During Richard Nixon’s campaign on the drug war in the 1970’s, beginning with the establishment of the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE), marijuana was then confined to Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act. This classified marijuana as a drug that has a high potential for abuse, lacks an accepted medical use, and is unsafe for use under medical supervision (Miller In November 1996, California endorsed a change in the state’s drug laws that contradicted the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
California voters approved Proposition 215, an initiative that made marijuana legally available as a medicine in the United States for the first time in wo generations. Under the new law, patients or their caregivers who possess or cultivate marijuana for medical treatment recommended by a doctor would not be subject to criminal prosecution. The recommendation may be either written or oral and doctors cannot be penalized by the state for making it. A similar but more restrictive initiative was passed in Arizona at the same time (Randall and O’Leary 250).
The federal government, in a decision by the Supreme Court, overruled the propositions of California, Arizona, and six other states. Several “Legalize It! ” groups continue to speak ut against the ferderal government with rallies, websites, and conferences. These groups include NORML (National Reformation of the Reformation of Marijuana Laws), DRCNet (The Drug Enforcement Organization Network), and MPP (The Marijuana Policy Project) (Randall and O’Leary 420-437). One of marijuana’s greatest proported advantages as a medicine appears to be its remarkable safety.
It has little effect on major physiological functions, and there is no known case of a lethal overdose. On the basis of animal models, the ratio of lethal to effective dose is estimated as 40,000 to 1. By comparison, the ratio is 3-50 to 1 for ecobarbital and 4-10 to 1 for alcohol. Marijuana is also far less addictive and far less subject to abuse than many drugs now used as muscle relaxants, hypnotics, and analgesics (Miller 19). The chief legitimate concern surrounds the effect of smoking on the lungs.
Cannabis smoke carries more tars and particulate matter than tobacco smoke. However, it appears that cannibus smokers inhale less smoke than an average tobacco smoker (Randall and O’Leary 30). Nevertheless, there continues to be considerable opposition to legalizing marijuana, even for medical benefits. The League Against Intoxicants and the NIDA National Institue of Drug Abuse) claim that marijuana should not be medically legalized for the following five main reasons:
1. Pregnant women who smoke marijuana may have babies with abnormalities, 2. Marijuana can impair coordination of judgment, 3. Marijuana may lead to the use of heroin and cocaine, 4. Marijuana does not better one’s physical or psychological state in terms of 5. Smoking may lead to lung cancer (Randall & O’Leary 280-285). Statistics and experiments were taken, however the exact numbers and tests were not listed. Several “anti-legalization” groups agree that tobacco is more dangerous han marijuana and support the notion of discovering a method to decrease the smoke inhalation or manufacture marijuana in pill-form.
The FDA approved a THC-based pill, used mainly to countereffect appetite loss and weight loss of AIDS patients (Randall & Each disagreeing argument used to favor or oppose medicinal marijuana faces the opposition of long-held societal perceptions and stereotypes. The case of Thomas Crook helped invoke soceity’s perpetual misunderstanding of the use of marijuana. Crook was the victim of a heinous murder. Allegedly, the killer committed the crime due o being under the influence of marijuana. The fact that the killer suffered from schizophrenia was not publicized (Nahas 180-190) and marijuana was ostracized as the main cause of murder.
Victor Licata, while under the influence of marijuana, murdered his mother, father, sister, and two brothers with an axe while they were asleep. Ultimately, marijuana was linked with the axe murders. In short, the public began to connect marijuana usage with crimes of violence, although no direct connections were It is clear that the number of Americans with access to facts about the medical uses of cannabis has grown greatly. The passage of legislation allowing some restricted and legal use of cannabis as a medicine ineight states is a striking political manifestation of this growing interest.
The state laws have led to a battle with federal authorities who have referred to the concept of medical marijuana as a hoax, “an apparent subterfuge by which proponents of a more liberal policy toward this drug will succeed in undoing the long-standing, harsh prohibition (Randall and O’Leary 349). ” The parochialism of this view is highlighted by ethno-historical studies, which document the ancient usage of this substance as a medicine. For example, Jamaican Rastafarians and the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church claim that marijuana brings one to a new level of understanding (“Marijuana and the Bible”).
To add to the confusion for Catholics, the Catholic Church has not publicized a specific response to this controversy. However, evidence itself provides several different perspectives from Catholic voices around the world. For example, in 1999, a leading Scottish bishop called for the legalization of cannabis and its narcotic products, including marijuana and hashish, claiming the effectiveness of medical uses of the drug. In 1996, however, the Catholic Church in Brazil expressed its rejection of a pro-marijuana campaign launched in the city of Sao Salvador de Bahia by a Brazilian deputy.
Moreover, evidence in the Bible does provide for the rejection of substance abuse and the acceptance of natural herbs which should be use to heal oneself. For example, the following quotation displays the belief that the body is a sacred “temple,” which should not be abused. “Do you not know that your body is a temple to the holy spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were ought at a price, therefore honor God in all you do (1 Corinthians 6:19 – 20). ” However, it should be made clear that abusing any substances, such as alcohol, cigarettes, etc. ould fall into this category.
The Bible also gives evidence that God put healing herbs for the benefit of man. “The Lord created medicines from the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them. Was not water made sweet with a tree in order that His power might be known… By them He heals and takes away pain; the pharmacist makes of them a compound (Ecclesiasticus 38: 4 – 8). ” Possibly due to an unclear response from he Bible, the church has not given a clear resolution to legalizing marijuana for medical New solutions can be found with societal changes in understanding the possible uses of the drug.
Ultimately a technology for the inhalation of cannabis vapors could be developed, which in essence are less damaging to the lungs that inhaled smoke. Even if smoking continued, legal availability would make it easier to take precautions against pathogens and bacteria that could harm the plant. At present, the greatest danger in medical use of marijuana is its illegality, which imposes much anxiety and expense on uffering people, forces them to bargain with illicit drug dealers, and exposes them to the threat of criminal prosecution.
Furthermore, similar to other body or mind-altering substances (coffee, asprin, etc), marijuana may also result in psychological dependence. Actual proof of physical dependence remains unproven. Two powerful forces appear to be colliding: the growing acceptance of medical cannabis and the proscription against any use of marijuana, medical or non-medical. There are no signs that we are moving away from absolute prohibition to a regulatory system that would allow responsible use of marijuana. As a result, we are going to have to compromise to solve this problem.
First of all, marijuana should be declared legal for prescribed medical use. This progress is slow, inspite of Proposition 215, but the positive effects of medical marijuana cannot be overlooked. For example, aspirin, the first of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), rapidly displaced cannabis as the treatment of choice for this and many other kinds of mild to moderate pain, during the late 19th century. But NSAIDs now take more than 7,000 lives annually in the United States alone; Cannabis, by contrast, has never killed anyone using it for the elief of pain or any other purpose.
It is not surprising that many patients now treat their osteoarthritis with cannabis, asserting that it provides a better quality of pain relief than NSAIDs and also elevates their spirits (Randall and O’Leary 39). Increasing medical use of marijuana will inevitably make growing numbers of people familiar with cannabis and its derivatives. As they learn that its harmfulness has been greatly exaggerated and its usefulness underestimated, the pressure will increase for drastic change in the way we as a society deal with this drug.
Thus, the medical arijuana issue calls out for responsible, honest leadership at the federal level. Until that time, individuals who can benefit from this substance will continue to rally around any possible situation. We owe it to them to provide safe and controlled access to this drug. Nearly thirty years ago, Gabrial Nahas states that, “to the agriculturist, cannabis is a fiber crop; to the physician, it is an enigma; to the user, a euphoriant; to the police, a menace; to the trafficker, a source of profitable danger; to the convict or parolee and his family, a source of sorrow (Nahas 10). ”