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Joey Rosenwald

Medical Cannabis

Medicinal marijuana should be federally legalized by the United

States government. Cannabis has the potential to help millions of

patients naturally with fewer, if any, long-term side effects than some

modern day prescription drugs. The history of marijuana is complicated

but it is clear that marijuana was made illegal for all the wrong

reasons. Marijuana was wrongly classified due to scare tactics and

racism rampant in the country. Despite this, people all over the world

are finally realizing the benefits of the herb, and nobody can seem to

find any proof to back up the government’s claims.

Cannabis Sativa, more commonly known as marijuana, is a

natural herb that can be found in the wild almost anywhere on the

planet. The dried flowers of the plant contain the psychoactive and

therapeutic chemical Delta 9- tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly

known as THC. Currently Marijuana is legalized for medicinal use in 13

U.S. States. However, according to the federal government, marijuana

is a schedule 1 drug meaning it has no medicinal use, a high potential

for abuse, and lack of accepted safe use. However, it is not the

menace that society believes it to be. In fact, recent studies have

shown that marijuana could be a beneficial herb. But marijuana is a

highly addictive drug, right? ‘Hard’ drugs such as cocaine, heroine, and
methadone all affect the brain’s reward system when they are taken.

This leads to dependency, because the brain will do whatever it takes

to get ‘rewarded’, overriding what common sense warrants. Most

prescription drugs including opiate pain relievers such as morphine,

and benzodiazepine related drugs such as Xanax, have many negative

side effects and are highly addicting. Studies have shown that

marijuana affects the brain differently than these hard drugs, leading

to tolerance but not to dependence. (Gettman). There could become a

physiological link between the user and marijuana, but the same could

be said about chocolate and even browsing the Internet. Although it’s

never healthy to breathe in smoke, the plant can also be ingested or

vaporized, in which only the THC is released. In all of its vast history,

marijuana has been directly attributed to zero deaths (Gerberding). If

harmful, one would think there would be at least one fatal marijuana

instance, but there simply isn’t. It is practically impossible to smoke or

even ingest a deadly amount of marijuana. So why is it illegal?

The plant has been utilized for its medicinal properties for

thousands of years. Interestingly enough, cannabis has only been

illegal for less than 1% of its use. For example, it was used for

medicinal purposes 4,000 years ago in ancient china, along with Egypt

and India. (wikipedia) Throughout the 1800’s, marijuana was a

common medicine used to treat pain and insomnia, and was used as

the primary pain reliever until aspirin was created. Marijuana became
illegal in virtually all forms with the introduction of the 1937 Marihuana

Tax Act. However, cannabis was not given fair scientific evaluation or

trial, it became illegal for virtually all non-existent reasons. One of the

main anti-cannabis leaders was Harry Anslinger. Harry was appointed

as the first commissioner of the Bureau of Narcotics. The bureau was

an upcoming agency that could virtually re-write the rulebook about

drugs. Anslinger focused heavily on marijuana, relating the herb to

racism and violence. "There are 100,000 marijuana smokers in the United States,
most of which are Mexicans, Negroes, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music,

jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to

search for sexual relations with negroes, entertainers, and any others." – Harry

Anslinger. From this point, Harry’s friend William Hearst helped spread

yellow journalism in the newspapers he owned. Here is an excerpt from

the San Francisco Examiner: "By the tons it is coming into this country -- the
deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart

and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and

devastating forms.... Marihuana is a short cut to the insane asylum. Smoke

marihuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a

storehouse of horrid specters. Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of

killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit

could ever get him...." America’s history of marijuana is filled with racist

and falsified claims, yellow journalism and scare tactics.

There are countless medicinal benefits that could come from the

hemp plant. Two of marijuana’s well-known effects are anti-nausea and

increased appetite. These uses alone could battle the effects of AIDS or

post-chemotherapy patients trying to keep the food down. Post-chemo

patients have trouble eating because they experience nausea and lack

of appetite. However, with cannabis use, appetites increased as well as

ability to contain food. In Tennessee, a study was done that yielded

very clear results; “…90.4% success for smoked cannabis; 66.7% for

oral THC.’ We found both marijuana smoking and THC capsules to be

effective antiemetics…’”(wikipedia). Cannabis as an antiemetic also

helps AIDS patients regain their appetites. It serves as an

antispasmodic for epilepsy and multiple sclerosis; as a bronchodilator it

is beneficial for asthma, it reduces eye pressure to treat glaucoma, and

is effective in treating mood disorders such as depression, ADD, ADHD,

OCD, and bipolar disorder. (wikipedia) Recently, a marijuana-based

medicine was shown to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s

(dailymail). These are just a few of cannabis’ medicinal qualities, as

more and more medical benefits are being discovered.

What is one of the most prominent reasons that marijuana

remains illegal as a medicine today? It’s natural. Global pharmaceutical

sales reached 602 billion dollars in 2005. ( In the

1930’s it was illegal to patent a plant, and marijuana has been shown

to be most effective in its natural form, meaning there’s little profit to

be made from marijuana. Cannabis is very easily produced, only

needing dirt, water and seeds to create an almost endless supply of

medication. In 1992, the FDA licensed a drug called Marinol in order to

treat nausea of chemotherapy patients and increase appetites of AIDS

wasting syndrome patients (wikipedia). Marinol is a drug that was

created to mimic the properties of marijuana, synthetic THC in a pill.

Now that it has been synthesized as a drug, it can be sold and profit

can be made. For 30 doses of marinol, 10mg a piece, it costs around

$700 ( Remember, this is mimicking a plant

that costs pennies to produce. Taken from the documentary The Union:

“This THC in marinol is exactly the same 21-carbon molecule that’s in

herbal marijuana… You can make synthetic THC in test tubes, it will

have the same number of atoms and same arrangement, but how in

the test tube can you put the electron spins together, the subatomic

quirks and quarks if you like of that compound in the same way that a

biological enzyme system would put it together? It can’t happen.” So

now we have the government backing a medication that’s essentially

worse than its natural counterpart. How could the government have

Cannabis listed as a Schedule I drug with no known medical properties,

and at the same time try to produce a synthetic version of the natural

plant? “You know they are trying to make marijuana into medicine,

because it IS medicine.” - Mark Emery

Along with of the medical benefits that THC has to offer, the

cannabis plant as a whole, if embraced, could greatly increase overall

health of the world. There is a variety of cannabis that is bred to have

little to none of the psychoactive component THC, known as hemp.

Industrial hemp can be used for food, fuel, and textiles. If hemp is used

for biofuel, it would greatly increase the quality of the environment.

Hemp can be grown in virtually every corner of the world, so if it’s

cultivated on a mass scale for biofuel, it could be used to power most

of our fuel needs. When hemp is grown, it releases oxygen into the air,

helping to offset the emissions put into the atmosphere from vehicles.

If hemp were cultivated as a paper pulp source, in a twenty-year period

it would yield four times the amount of paper in one acre than tree

pulp ( This could save the majority of forests from

being destroyed for paper pulp. "Cotton and soy, the two hemp

substitute crops, are characterized not only by their enormous demand

for pesticides, but also by the toxicity of the respective pesticides in

use." (Bocsa) Hemp has a natural insect resistance, and thus requires

little to no pesticides, increasing overall health of farmland and the

ecosystem as a whole.

Cannabis Sativa has been used throughout history for medicinal

purposes all over the world. If the unites states government legalized

medical marijuana on a federal level, millions of peoples lives would

improve greatly. They are prohibiting a natural medicine, which

seemingly only good could come. I hope in the future, people will begin

to realize that there is an asinine amount of negative propaganda

surrounding this benign herb, formed from greed and hatred.

Works Cited

Gettman, Jon. “Marijuana and the Brain, Part II: The Tolerance Factor.”
High Times

Jul 1995

Gerberding, Julie, "Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000,"

Journal of the American Medical Association, March 10, 2004,

“Medical cannabis.” Wikipedia. 2008. Wikipedia.


Bocsa, Ivan. The Cultivation of Hemp. 98: Hemptech.

Macrae, Fiona. "Cannabis 'could stop dementia in its tracks'" DailyMail.

19 Nov. 2008. <

Hemp. <>.

Global Pharmaceutical Market Grew 7 Percent. Mar. 2006. IMS Health.