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Marijuana usage: Deadly or resourcefull?

Marijuana Usage: Deadly or Resourceful?
Marijuana is a commonly misunderstood substance that most Americans do not fully understand. The usage of the drug marijuana has been extensively researched and proven to be one of the “most viable and safest sources of medical value to the many Americans suffering from Aids, Glaucoma, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, and Chronic Pains” (Medical Marijuana). According to the Institute of Medicines, (1999) “marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known” (Legalization of Marijuana).More resources and case studies will be further discussed to back up the claim of marijuana’s medical value.

Marijuana, often called pot, is classified as a drug and has become stereotyped as a terrible, addictive, substance which has become a “burden” to society. However, this misconception is far from the truth and fails to recognize the many positive aspects that can come from smoking pot. In addition, the drug itself is not as harmful as some may perceive. I believe that marijuana should be legalized for both the purposes of recreation and medical values because of the lack of harmfulness and positive effects that can be credited to both personal and economic gains.

The first generalization that is linked closely to the effects of smoking marijuana is the belief of its negative affects on the body. According to Bureau of Mortality Statistics,
“marijuana has made up for a total of zero American deaths. Compare this statistic to the average deaths a year tobacco causes which fell a little above 400,000 in 2004. Other “drugs” such as caffeine and Aspirin, have a total of 2,500 related deaths in 2004″ (Legalization of Marijuana).
So how exactly do the death figures relate with harmfulness of smoking pot? Cigarettes are legal although according to Drugwarfacts.com,
“they are more addictive then marijuana and can cause Cancer, damage the respiratory system, raise blood pressure, and most importantly decreases oxygen to the brain. Furthermore, cigarette smoking is a significant risk factor to the cause of emphysema, chronic bronchitis, stroke, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis” (Drug War Facts).

Not only are they dangerous to the smoker, but also equally as dangerous to the second hand smoker. I am not at all trying to convey the idea that the more harmful drug tobacco should be illegal. I’m simply stating the concept that our nation is somewhat hypocritical for legalizing the more harmful drug tobacco, while keeping the proven less harmful marijuana illegal.

Another common misstatement connected with marijuana is the idea that it is very addictive and poses a huge threat to the body. According to a 1997 UCLA school of medicine study, “the most common problem attributed to marijuana is frequent overuse. Marijuana was not only found far less addictive than other legal common drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, but pose only minor health threats.” This problem can be found in many other legal substances. So why draw the line at marijuana? It was found that marijuana can affect short-term memory loss, but only while under the influence. Marijuana was found not to impair long-term memory at all. In the UCLA study, “243 habitual marijuana smokers were studied over an eight year period. The study concluded that no differences were noted between an even quite heavy marijuana smoker and non marijuana smoker.” Marijuana does not cause serious health problems like those caused by tobacco or alcohol such as cancer, heart problems, birth defects, emphysema, and even liver damage. Death from a marijuana overdose is literally impossible and according to my research from various studies, there has not been a single death attributed to a health problem caused by marijuana.
The idea that marijuana has been proven to have minimal side effects, I feel is irrelevant to the point. This being that our society has learned to accept the idea of much harsher drugs to be acceptable and legal when their effects on the body are far more severe then marijuana. If health is a deciding factor for the legalization of marijuana, I see absolutely no reason why marijuana should not be legal with exception that it does have set restrictions such as age and situation.

Marijuana has been proven in several medical studies that there are health benefits from the drug. The chemical agent found in marijuana that is sought for its medical values is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is a compound that is obtained from the cannabis leaf or can be made synthetically. According to the IOM (Institute of Medicine) and many other clinical studies, the THC found in marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known. Forms of relief can be found for nausea and appetite loss, reduction of intraocular (inside the eye) pressure, reduction of muscle spasms, and relief from chronic pains. Such examples are of patients usually suffering from AIDS, Glaucoma, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, and Epilepsy. With the reassurance and safety of medical values, why would patients wish not to use such a vital and affect method for such medical flaws? Medical marijuana should be legalized so it can be ready and accessible for patients where current medicines are just not adequate.
The common argument against smoking marijuana to receive the THC is the ability to retrieve the same vital substances without having to actually smoke marijuana. This is done through ingesting a pill overloaded with the THC substance. There are several of these types of medications that have already hit the market. Several medical studies show that in some situations the THC pill provides the most effective amount required for attacking medical conditions. Furthermore, a study group for medical marijuana.com announced that “there may be other compounds in the cannabis leaf that have other useful therapeutic properties which cannot be found in the pills”. I can’t dispute the idea that the THC pills don’t work, in many situations the pill or other medical procedures have been proven to be better than or equally as effective as smoking marijuana. In spite of this, with the lack of proven harm from medical marijuana, it should be available upon request of the patient in all states. Between 1978 and 1997, states have passed legislation recognizing marijuana’s medical value. Since 1996, ten states have already legalized the use of medical marijuana: AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ME, NV, OR, VT, and WA. Many states have realized the medical values, what is taking so long for the rest of the United States to follow?
In 1937, The Marijuana Tax Act was introduced which banned the use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. Since then the U.S. war on drugs places great emphasis on arresting people for smoking marijuana. This war on drugs will only be won if we are willing to turn our country into a police state. Stiffening sentencing for marijuana convictions has meant jails overcrowding with drug offenders. This forcing the early release of violent criminals, for people who have been handed mandatory life sentences for marijuana possession as their “third strike.” Since 1990, nearly 5.9 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges. In 2000 alone, state and local law enforcement arrested 734,498 people for marijuana violations. America is now the world’s greatest jailor nation, with prison population consisting overwhelmingly of drug offenders. On average, we sentence nonviolent drug offenders up to five times more jail time than those convicted of manslaughter (murder). There is no doubt about it that many drug offenders who are imprisoned deserve to be there. Nonetheless, placing marijuana convictions above more serious offenses, such as murder, is not the best way to spend tax payer’s money to imprison these “criminals.”
Marijuana is a commonly misunderstood substance that most Americans today do not fully understand. More importantly, rather then being harmful to the body, marijuana is an aid to many deadly diseases and illnesses. Moreover, marijuana is no more addictive then many other common every day legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco. Due to current laws, marijuana is being treated more seriously then actions of violence, with the intent to harm citizens of our society. I feel without a doubt that marijuana should be treated like other legal drugs. In other words, people should have the option of putting what ever they like into their mouths. Until marijuana can be proven to be a deadly and impacting substance to both society and the user, smoking pot should be left up to the user. Marijuana can be used correctly if not abused, with proper knowledge or qualification; marijuana should be legalized for users that meet the certain criteria.
Work Cited
Hedman, Leighann. Legalization of Marijuana. 2000. 6 May 2005
“Medical Marijuana.” The Science of Medical Marijuana. 2005. Institute of Medicines. 6
May 2005
“The Drug War.” Legalization of Marijuana. 2003. Pure THC Online. 6 May 2005
“Medical Marijuana.” Drug War Facts. 2004. 6 May 2005