The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is an extremely controversial subject. There are many supporters, as well as many that are in opposition to the use of marijuana in any situation. Parties on both sides of the issue are regularly bringing forth new information to endorse their case.
Marijuana, made from an Indian hemp plant that bears the name cannabis sativa, is a mixture of stems, leaves, and flowering tops. The flowering tops are smoked for the tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, that is concentrated there. THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The use of marijuana as folk medicine began in Central Asia as far back as 3000 B.C. It's use as a pleasure-inducing drug began in the 1900's, becoming widespread in the 1960's and 1970's. In the 60's and 70's, marijuana became the second most popular drug, alcohol being the first. This trend continues today (Berger).
The intoxication, or "high" acquired due to the smoking of marijuana, has two phases. These phases are initial stimulation followed by pleasant tranquillity. The initial stimulation includes giddiness and euphoria, then sedation and tranquillity (Berger). Another of the results of smoking marijuana is an increase in appetite known commonly as "the munchies." Because loss of appetite and nausea are common side effects of illnesses for which marijuana is a possible medicine, "the munchies" is one of marijuana's most valuable medicinal uses (Thompson 149).
There are many mistaken objections pertaining to the use of marijuana as a medicine. One of the most common of these myths is that marijuana is highly addictive, and that long-term users experience physical withdrawals when marijuana use is stopped. In actuality, most marijuana smokers smoke the drug only on occasion (Science 3). Marijuana has not been proven physically addicting and no physical withdrawal symptoms occur when use is discontinued (Berger).
Another myth commonly used to discourage the use of marijuana as a medicine is that marijuana has been scientifically proven to be harmful. In 1972,after reviewing scientific evidence, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse concluded that while marijuana is not totally safe, it's dangers had been grossly overstated (Morgan 1). In 1995, based on thirty years of scientific research, editors of the British medical journal Lancet concluded that "the smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health" (Science 1).
Many anti-medical marijuana supporters have said that there is not medicinal value in marijuana. They claim that safer, more effective drugs, such as Marinol, are available. Marinol is a synthetic version of THC. In reality, smoked marijuana has been shown to reduce nausea induced by chemotherapy, increase appetites in AIDS patients, and reduce intraocular pressure in people with glaucoma. Marinol is a synthetic THC capsule and is available by prescription but is not as...