Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Medical Marijuana

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Marijuana is one of nature’s oldest medicines; it has been an ingredient in remedies for thousands of years. Around 000 BC India and China used Marijuana to treat illnesses, easing childbirth pain, asthma, epilepsy, appetite, and disposition. The chemical components that seem to be valued for treating conditions have baffled science for centuries. Therapeutic success for many diseases gives hope to people in places where hope has been in short supply. The majority of voters approve of medical uses of Marijuana; although the debate over the drug’s legal status is far from over. Opposition of Federal officials has caused controversy.

The medical use of Marijuana has become increasingly popular, and arguments against it seem to be slowly fading. The drug proves to show an increasingly large amount of therapeutic value and potential. A study by the National Academy of Sciences (18) showed that Marijuana and its derivatives show promise in treating glaucoma, easing chronic vomiting for cancer chemotherapy patients. In 188 Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young, US DEA, chaired hearings all over the country examining the testimonies of researchers for and against therapeutic Marijuana. The evidence was un-equivocal mostly. In his ruling he declared that the, “Record clearly shows” Marijuana’s value in treating muscular weakness-multiple sclerosis, overactive parathyroid, and reducing chemotherapy related vomiting. The use for glaucoma was less clear cut. (“Marijuana Medical Uses” http//

How Marijuana produces therapeutic effects is hard to say. Marijuana is a very complex drug; it is composed of more than four-hundred and twenty one chemicals, six of which exist nowhere else in nature (Cannabinoids). Pot’s main ingredients, mainly Cannabinoids, are poorly understood so it is hard to establish what ingredients produce what effects. Out of the effects, is the ability to improve appetite, reduce nausea, relieve muscle spasms, and relieve eye pressure, all of which was said before. Many of the effects mediated or modified interaction with the nervous system. One or more cannabinoids produce a CNS effect, a temporary alteration of the binding site of a neurotransmitter, which in turn may produce one or more therapeutic effects. Oddly Marijuana’s mood change agent-delta- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is behind many of the drug’s therapeutic actions. Due to THC’s effectiveness in relieving nausea for cancer chemotherapy patients, in 185 the FDA approved several different remedies. Marinol, one of which is a synthetic THC in a pill form which stimulates appetite.

Marijuana’s potential damage to the human body is slight and temporary immune system impairment for healthy users but for the severely ill there can be serious consequences. The main long-term effect is damage to the lungs and the respiratory system. Marijuana smoke contains asmanyl tar a potential cancer-causing chemical. Marijuana smoke is identical to cigarette smoke. Main problem in using both Marijuana and synthetic THC are the drugs’ psychoactive effects ranging from drowsiness and dizziness to anxiety and “muddled thinking.” Other problems are the drug’s side effects particularly speeded up heart rate, usually harmless in healthy individuals, but can pose problems for the elderly and very ill. So Marijuana is “Not a completely benign substance” (Institute of Medicine). Marijuana has so many components that research is aimed at developing synthetic versions without altering the brain or other systems. Though medical Marijuana advocates remain unconvinced and argue that some therapeutic effects may result from the interaction of cannabinoids may be impossible to synthesize.

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Marijuana may have some flaws but it has helped many people. During the most of 178 Susan Nelson watched her husband constantly retch, his body fought so hard to expel the chemicals used to treat his testicular cancer. After 18 months his tattered esophagus ripped, tissue damage that has plagued him ever since. A decade later Susan had developed Lymphoma, she too underwent chemotherapy. After four months of treatment she vomited only once. Instead of heading to the bathroom when she felt nauseous, to take control of her problem, she lit a joint. Susan Nelson is no drug addict, she grew up in a military family, and had never tried Marijuana as a sixties Teen but she was not about to experience again what her husband had gone through. The drug she had prescribed herself had done wonders for her digestion and lowered her inhibitions, causing inexplicable feelings to throw random objects. Smoking Marijuana may have broken the law but it didn’t make her harm herself. “When I smoked it,” she recollects, “you could still trust me,” (Geoffrey Cowley “Can marijuana be medicine?” 17)

Keith Vines a forty-six year old San Francisco prosecutor regards himself to be a stalwart in the war on drugs. Assistant District attorney, spent years putting dealers on prison. But as an Aids patient he saw his body threaten to disintegrate. “Three Years ago my ribs were protruding, I was terrified to get on the scale.” He says. He wanted to enroll in a study of human growth hormone but participants had to eat three meals a day, but he could hardly force down one. He tried several drugs including Marinol, which left him too blasted to function. Nothing worked until he joined a local buyers’ club and started to smoke Marijuana. Keith finally qualified for the study and he gained 45 pounds. He managed to salvage his job. “Without Marijuana,” Keith says earnestly, “I would be dead.” (Geoffrey Cowley “Can marijuana be medicine?” 17)

Federal law classifies Marijuana as a schedule I drug, which states that the drug should not have any medical value and people can be fined or imprisoned for merely possessing the drug. Cancer and Glaucoma Stricken Mainers caught puffing will not be free from being arrested or charged under federal law. “In United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative et al., the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the federal governments right to close an Oakland, Calif. buyers cooperative. The cooperative was established under the state’s Proposition 15 to supply Marijuana to more than 8,000 patients who use the substance for a range of medical reasons. However, the Supreme Court found that the federal Controlled Substances Act, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, contains no exception that would allow patients to use the drug after exhausting all other remedies. And although the passage of related state laws removed the threat of state prosecution for patients who use the drug, the threat of federal prosecution continued to exist. It is unlikely that the U.S. government will begin to prosecute sick individuals who use small amounts of the drug. However, cannabis clubs, which were started all over California as a distribution point for the drug, represent a larger target. What the courts ruling means in the other eight states that do not rely on clubs to distribute the drug is unclear. Some of those states allow patients to grow a few marijuana plants for their own use while shielding them from state prosecution.” (Landers “Supreme Court ruling undermines medical use of marijuana” 001) But state law may cause prosecutors to think twice before indicting them. Jay McCloskey, The federal attorney for Maine says he is in any case after the dealers not the small time users. Physicians are also in hot water.

There is a “Gray Area” (Alice P. Mead, CMA) Some doctors may suggest to use marijuana can be prosecuted and they might be debarred from writing prescriptions but the First Amendment protects many doctors although “Some Physicians understandably want to keep clear of the gray area and the sanctions that could result.” (Alice P. Mead,) Although many state officials have tried to reclassify Marijuana as a schedule II drug, which allows medical use, the Federal Officials always come in between it. The Federal Government has interfered with voting initiative and state laws. “We are all Lawyers up here and we said all along this won’t work without the Federal Government being a player at the table; obviously the court decision bears us out.” (Gordon Smith, Executive Vice President Maine Medical Association)

Predominantly illegal since 17 Marijuana may prove to be a valuable option to more commonly prescribed drugs for some diseases. California, Arizona and Massachusetts are leading the struggle to make Marijuana available. They are not without help, 6 states and the District of Columbia passed various laws and decrees establishing therapeutic research programs, doctors to prescribe Marijuana and the Federal Government to lift the bar on medical use.

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