Although legalizing marijuana is a controversial topic, its legalization for medicinal purposes should not be an issue because it helps in reducing pain, and is also a treatment for some terminal illnesses. A few states, (eight to be exact) the most notable California, says marijuana use ought to be legal if prescribed by a doctor for critically ill patients, and they have sanctioned growing the plant for medicinal purposes. However in the other forty two states it is known to be illegal.
Marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes. Any health effects it may cause pales in comparison to the pain and suffering caused by lethal illnesses. There is no way to deduce whether the legalization of marijuana, for medicinal purposes only, would cause an increase in its illegal use. Marijuana Controls glaucoma, suppress the nausea induced by anti-cancer drugs, relieves the pain of multiple sclerosis, and also stimulates the appetites of those with AIDS.
So there is a definite need for marijuana therapy, because for patients that suffer with glaucoma the marijuana can reduce the pressure within the eye, it is also shown to help the nausea and vomiting that can accompany cancer chemotherapy, and new studies show that it may ease pain in the limbs and increase the appetites of AIDS sufferers. Thus it would be very wrong of the government to deny patients medicines that could possibly help them.
In the case of glaucoma it is widely accepted that the elevated pressure in the eyeball that damages the optic nerve falls when marijuana is smoked. That is why, until 1991, America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permitted ophthalmologists to prescribe it to patients for whom other treatments had failed. Since then, new glaucoma drugs have been produced, but these act at different points in the biochemical pathway that causes the eyes to produce too much fluid. (Davids, 2000). Marijuana is also of undoubted benefit in suppressing the nausea suffered by many people on anti-cancer chemotherapy and, unlike other legal nausea suppressors which work in different ways, the marijuana allow users to fine-tune the dose for themselves.
Chemotherapy also powerfully reminds cancer patients of their life-threatening illness. In the case of multiple sclerosis (MS), marijuana brings relief that other painkillers do not seem to manage. Many of those who suffer from this disease have burning sensations in their limbs, particularly at night. These sensations are probably caused both by the disorder’s destruction of the protective fatty coating around nerve cells and the damage it does to the brain. Conventional analgesics can do little to ease this burning sensation-which seems to be similar to the phantom pain often suffered by amputees-but some sufferers say that a joint at bedtime makes the difference between their sleeping and not doing so.
The fourth use- marijuana’s well-known ability to stimulate the appetite-is particularly significant in the treatment of AIDS. Again, smoking appears to be better than taking THC in capsule form. The pure form of the drug is poorly absorbed by many of the afflicted and besides, often makes people so high that they never get around to eating. The loss of lean-muscle mass that occurs as patients waste away to shadows of their former selves is an ominous predictor of their impending deaths.
The best alternative to smoked pot for appetite stimulation is human growth hormone, which has been found both to restore lean tissue to emaciated AIDS patients and to improve their chances of survival. The catch is that-at $36,000 for a year’s supply-it is prohibitively expensive (marijuana treatment for the same period costs a mere $500). The other readily available option is megestrol acetate, a synthetic female hormone which is somewhat cheaper. Unfortunately, studies have shown that it does not improve survival, probably because the weight gain it produces, instead of being muscle, is mainly fat. All this would seem to make smoked marijuana the medicine of choice for helping the HIV-positive to gain the right kind of weight. One AIDS patient testified that it had enabled him to regain 40 lbs (around 20kg), and that by using it only at night he had been able to keep the weight on.
In everything we consume, there is the possibility of it either harming or helping our bodies. Caffeine is known to be addictive, yet soft drinks are very tasty and therefore are consumed frequently. Cigarettes contain tar that coats the lungs and causes respiratory problems, but the tobacco is grown by farmers and helps them put food on the tables of their families. Even alcohol, as deadly as it can be, has the redeeming qualities of lowering stress and helping to prevent heart attacks. All of these things are dangerous, yet legal. So why do we keep marijuana, another dangerous yet potentially helpful drug, illegal?
So far eight states have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. These eight states may have legalized marijuana for this purpose, but they are not the only states with terminal ill patients. True, there are other pain relievers and appetite builders, but they can cause side effects much worse than the pain the patients are going through. Alcohol, can cause many health problems, yet it is still legal to buy and consume at age twenty one.
Cigarettes and other tobacco products cause problems for users, as well as those experiencing second-hand smoke. We are taught from early on in our lives that tobacco products have no real value to the user except for stress management, yet it is legal. Marijuana, is a victimless crime drug, one that if it does cause problems, they are only to the user. It is true that countless lives are taken every day because of the category of drugs (by which I mean illegal) that marijuana has been placed in. But the drug does not take these lives; they are taken by the actions against those using it.
Because buying and selling marijuana is illegal, dealings with the authorities often result in huge fights, leaving many dead. If marijuana were legal these types of fatalities would not occur, because people could get the drug from legal sources. Authorities could regulate the marijuana, ensuring that it was not cut with any other drugs that could be harmful to users. These other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, are the ones that have health-related problems. These highly addictive drugs are deadly even if used in minuscule amounts. If used responsibly, marijuana just gives a buzz much like alcohol.
There are people out there that enjoy the recreational use of the drug just as they do smoking or consuming alcoholic beverages. Denying them the pleasures of marijuana is comparable to the Prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s. Jails were filled, and many arrests were made because an activity people were going to do regardless of legality was made illegal for a short period of time. When the Prohibition act was first enacted, the crime rate went through the roof, but immediately fell again after it was amended.
In concluding there is no question that if marijuana were any other drug, decisions about its medical use would be up to doctors and patients. Instead, today, the politics of the drug war intervene. Patients and doctors who get involved with medical marijuana face potentially grave risks, and government seems committed to maximizing the fear and uncertainty faced by those who might benefit using it. It need not be this way. Scientific and medical texts going back for years point to medicinal properties for marijuana.
More to the point, thousands of patients and their families and doctors have experienced and witnessed the medical benefits of marijuana. They have told others, they have testified at public hearings and appeared in the mass media. They have contributed to books and research studies on the drug. The phenomenon is real. Those who say the evidence is not yet good enough misses the point.
The evidence is clearly good enough to make two declarations now, such as the decisions about marijuana for medical use belong in the hands of doctors and patients, and also that there are no reasons at all to subject medical patients who use marijuana for legitimate medical purposes to the risk of arrest, jail, fines, and public embarrassment. Because current laws deprives doctors and patients of this freedom, and classify patients as criminals, all such laws should be changed. Science should be free to pursue more definitive data on marijuana, because doctors and patients can only benefit from such new information.
The drug war’s generals should declare a hasty retreat from this front. The use of this drug for medicinal purposes should be legalized to try and help those who really need it and try to make their lives more tolerable. The valuable time and lives of our law enforcement are taken up by needlessly arresting marijuana users and battling the drug war when there are alternative ways to dealing with more harmful drugs.
The argument is made that marijuana is a “gateway drug” that leads to use of other more deadly and dangerous drugs. But what if it was legalized? Then people could use marijuana recreationally, drug dealers would be taken out of the picture and the pressure to use the more harmful drugs would be gone. Marijuana would no longer be a gateway drug. I know that there are drugs out there that should be illegal, but marijuana is not on that list. If used sensibly and rationally, marijuana can serve the same purpose as soft drinks, alcohol and tobacco products. As with these substances, it is up to the user to be responsible while under the influence of marijuana and to conduct themselves appropriately.