Essay, Research Paper: Marijuana And Medicine

Alcohol and Drugs

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I decided upon the question “Should Marijuana be Medicine?” because I wanted
to confirm my strong beliefs of an anti-drug policy, but after research, my
attitude towards medical marijuana changed because it seems the benefits far
out-weigh the risks. Of the 60 some chemicals unique to the marijuana plant, the
main psychoactive ingredient and the one for exploring the physiological as well
as the psychological role in the anandamide system is delta-9
tetrahydrocannabinol, or more commonly known as THC. The anandamide system is
concerned with mood, memory and cognition, perception, movement, coordination,
sleep, thermoregulation, appetite, and immune response (a). Cannabis is the term
used to describe the dried hemp spike. When burned and inhaled, the cannabis
receptors bond to the macrophages in the brain and spine, which control the
anandamide system. Macrophages are chemicals in the body, which attack the
infected areas in the body and help take away the waste from an injury (a). THC
acts as a catalyst in this process. It speeds up the macrophages’ disposal of
the waste and is why therapeutic relief comes as such a rapid onset to the user
(b). Even though the THC bonds with the processes going on inside the brain,
there are few THC receptors in the part of the brain that controls the basic
life functions therefore making it impossible for cannabis intoxication to lead
to death (c). There are strong links to cannabis relieving aches and pains,
numbing the symptoms of opiate withdrawal, improving sleep, reducing anxiety,
and alleviating the vomiting, anorexia, and depression associated with certain
AIDS related disorders, specifically AIDS wasting syndrome(c). Some studies have
also shown that cannabis can relieve muscle spasms especially in multiple
sclerosis patients’ (b). “With smoked marijuana, patients get immediate
relief, whereas with the oral drug they get a delayed, big rush of
unpleasantness. ” Studies on animals have shown it could also quite possibly
be an anticonvulsant. Doctors have been able to make a synthetic delta-9
tetrahydrocannabinol, which they call Nabilone, that helps relieve nausea and
vomiting after chemotherapy and may pose as the strongest evidence that
cannabinoids do work (a). It is a non-psychotropic drug and therefore greater
accepted. Researchers have also developed a delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, which
they call dronabinol (a). This oral drug has proven itself in stimulating the
appetite of AIDS patients and has won approval from the American Food and Drug
Association; one of only three drugs approved for this treatment. This drug has
also been found to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties along with
possible anxiolytic , hypnotic, and antidepressant properties, which gives this
drug a profile unique to other man made drugs, and is compelling enough for
further studies (a). The adverse effects have also been studied and there have
been no deaths due to cannabis toxicity alone. Some of the most common side
effects include sedation, euphoria, anxiety, and paranoia, dry mouth, blurred
vision, and incoordination. Dependence can occur but withdrawal symptoms are
mild. The smoke is toxic and may increase the risk of cardiovascular and
respiratory disease (a). When I began this study, I was greatly opposed to
marijuana for whatever reason it was being used, but now that I have found more
information on the subject, my opinion has definitely swayed. I have attained a
greater understanding for how this drug interacts with the body and why it has
the effects on pain that it does. I think that if I were to compile more
research, especially now that medical marijuana is actually a respected topic
and no longer a joke, I think that I would find even more reasons as to why this
drug should be seriously considered for therapeutic reasons. One of the reasons
that this drug is so frowned upon is that society has taken for granted and
abused a very unique and possibly beneficial drug therefore almost permanently
attaching a bad name and delaying the necessary research which could be putting
millions to ease. (a) British medical journal Cannabis as a medicine The major
point that this article brought out was that delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the
active ingredient in marijuana more commonly known as THC, does ease a wide
variety of various symptoms from aches and pains to AIDS related disorders. They
described how patients told their doctors how effective cannabis is in relieving
aches and pains, numbing the symptoms of opiate withdrawal, improving sleep,
reducing anxiety, and alleviating the vomiting, anorexia, and depression
associated with AIDS related disorders. It also discussed how THC acts as a
catalyst in the anandamide system, which helps dispose of the waste from an
injury, and is involved with mood, memory and cognition, perception, movement,
coordination, sleep, thermoregulation, appetite, and immune response. They also
explained that there is a synthetic form of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol,
Nabilone, which is not psychotropic like the natural form and has been proven to
relieve nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy. There is another drug called
dronabinol, which stimulates the appetite of AIDS patients and is so effective
that the American Food and Drug Association has approved of it. All these
evidences help my argument that marijuana should be a drug available by
prescription but strongly regulated so misuse can be avoided. This article also
mentioned the side effects of cannabis, which include sedation, minor
psychological and physical systems, and mal interaction with the central nervous
system possibly causing depression. All of these negatives are minor when
compared to the wide list of benefits this drug can have. I found the most
information in this article and it was presented in a sophisticated yet
understandable way. (b) Issues in Science and Technology From marijuana to
medicine The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy asked the
Institute of Medicine (IOM) to determine the risks and benefits of marijuana and
their findings were displayed in this article. They found that marijuana is
potentially effective in treating pain, nausea, and vomiting but the therapeutic
effects and mild when compared to other medicines. However, a majority of
patients do not take well to these man made drugs and therefore would rather
smoke marijuana with no bad reaction at all. There is also conclusive evidence
that it stops muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients. All of these
findings support my side of the argument. They did say that there are also
adverse effects to chronic smoking which include increased risk of lung cancer,
lung damage, and problems with pregnancies, but when patients use the drug
strictly for medical purposes and not on a regular basis there is actually very
little risk. Tests have been approved for six-month trials on patients who seem
most likely to benefit. They want to make perfectly clear that the goal of these
tests is not to find reasons to make marijuana legal but to find new drugs
related to the compounds found in the plant, specifically, delta-9
tetrahydrocannabinol. Another point that this article brought up was that the
health hazards identified with marijuana use are from the smoke inhaled during
ingestion and not from the actual drug. Another advantage of marijuana that they
pointed out was that its drug effect has a rapid onset unlike man made drugs. I
felt that this was the least helpful article, of the three I found, in defending
my claim that marijuana should be used as medicine because I was able to find
the contained information in my first source and it was presented too novice.
(c) Consumer Reports Marijuana as Medicine- How strong is the science? This
internet site neatly outlined all the pros and cons of medical marijuana. It
first started with the harm it can cause and the effects it has on the brain,
which concern coordination and short term memory. Even when they were addressing
the cons of the drug, they mentioned that it is impossible to take a fatal dose
of marijuana because there are hardly any THC receptors in the area of the brain
that control the basic life functions. Another argument they brought up against
marijuana is that there are 50-70% more known carcinogens than tobacco smoke and
more irritating particles are sent to the lungs because there is no filter used
and joints are usually smoked down to the last fraction of an inch. Users also
try to hold the smoke in as long as possible which further irritates the lungs.
These arguments are from a user prospective though and more precautions would be
taken if the drug were being used medically. The article then went on to
describe the good marijuana can do. Less is known about the beneficial side
because the Government has refused funding so research, at this point, is at a
virtual standstill. The researchers that can afford it are interested in three
major areas: nausea from chemotherapy, AIDS wasting syndrome, and spasticity.
Physicians speculated that the one major difference between the synthetic
Marinol pills and smoked marijuana is that the smoke enters the bloodstream
immediately, allowing patients to control their own dose, whereas the oral
version is absorbed slowly over a longer amount of time and relief is not felt
as quickly. I felt that this was the second best article in helping to defend my
stand on medical marijuana. I learned from this process that there are books
located near the entrance to the library which give topics like the one I found
along with a brief summary of the question and a list of sources to use. That
book was where I found both my periodical and journal sources and really made
the research process an easy one. I also learned that it is easier to find one
good source and decide on your topic when you do so even though I understand
that that may not necessarily be the case each time a research report is
assigned. The authors of each of my texts, I made sure, are credible. Dr. Philip
Robson, author of Cannabis as medicine: Time for the phoenix to rise? is a
member of the British Medical Association and is a senior clinical lecturer at
Warneford Hospital in Oxford. The three authors of From Marijuana to Medicine
have high status positions and are respected in their field. John A. Benson is
dean and professor of medicine emeritus at Oregon Health Sciences University
School of Medicine, Portland. Stanley J. Watson, Jr., is coordinator and
research scientist at the Mental Health Research Institute, University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor. Janet E. Joy is a senior program officer at the Institute
of Medicine. There is no author stated for the internet site but Consumer
Reports is a well recognized and credible institution.

Bibliography
(a) British Medical Journal. Cannabis as a Medicine: Time for the phoenix to
rise? London: Robinson, 1998. (b) Issues in Science and Technology. From
Marijuana to Medicine. Washington: Spring, 1999. (c) Consumer Reports. Marijuana
as Medicine- How strong is the science? http://www.commonlink.com/~olsen/MEDICAL/consumer.html

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