Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) is hemp plant that is generally known by society as a harmful drug. Most of the parts of this plant, especially the leaves, stems and floral parts, may be dried, minced and smoked. Several street names have been used to pertain to this plant, including pot, weed and grass. The idea of marijuana use often connotes drug abuse because it contains constituents that are strong enough to alter the mind of the user (Hall 12). The active constituent of marijuana is known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and this chemical has caused a number of crimes and deaths among users (Hall 567). Hence since the 1970’s, the use of marijuana has been prohibited and any individual found dealing or propagating the plant or its derivatives are put in jail for drug trafficking. This paper aims to discuss issues regarding marijuana and its positive contribution to human health and society. The information contained in this paper will provide a more holistic view of marijuana, stressing the point that this plant can be used in a medicinal way.
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Marijuana has been historically employed as an herbal remedy for health disorders such as nausea and pain. This plant has also been reported to increase an individual’s appetite. More than a century ago, attempts were made regarding the extraction of essential oils and other components of this plant for drug use. However, such actions were terminated due to the reports on the risks of using this herb. In the last few decades, interest in marijuana was revived for medical use. Biomedical research on marijuana showed that the plants were helpful in alleviating individuals experiencing nausea. In addition, research has also showed that the herb eased individuals suffering from symptoms of vomiting and experiencing extreme pain. Marijuana has also been determined to stimulate appetite (Mattes 188).
To date, there are several forms of synthetic extracts derived from marijuana. One of these is the drug dronabinol, which has been medically used as a treatment drug in North America and the United Kingdom. Another synthetic drug, Sativex, is another marijuana extract that is prescribed for patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Although the percentage of patients using Sativex have expressed relieve from the pain they experience from multiple sclerosis, it is also important to understand that a crucial point in the use of the drug depends on attaining the optimal dose that will convey the desired effect of relief from pain. Sativex is orally administered and the assimilation of the constituents of the drug must thus pass through the gastric lining and be circulated through the rest of the body before relief from pain is achieved (O’Connell et al., 2007).
By year 2000, there was a significant increase in the demand for marijuana in the medical field, wherein physicians prescribed its use to alleviate patients suffering from pain associated with cancer and other muscular disorders. The prescription and administration of marijuana for patients experiencing extreme conditions of pain and seizures was thus necessary because no other drug was observed to be as effective as marijuana. In these cases, the benefits of alleviating the condition of a patient far outweighed the psychomotor effects associated with smoking marijuana.
It is thus imperative the marijuana use should be legalized because this plant can also provide significant benefit to the health of its user, as long as the user is educated of the proper use of this potent plant derivative. Physicians are thus advised to discuss the benefits and risks of marijuana in relation to the medical disorder of a patient, in order to prevent any misuse and abuse of marijuana. Retrospective medical research has previously shown that insufficient knowledge and understanding of marijuana and its potency, both among physicians and their corresponding patient, may result in more serious problems in terms of regulation of use of the plant (Kalant 518).
Similar to drug users employing marijuana, the use of medicinal marijuana may also result in side effects such as dizziness and loss of motor control. Such side-effects are designated as far from serious hence medical research reports have generated a number of guidelines on the use of marijuana in the medical field. Firstly, the temporary administration of marijuana for the use of its active ingredient, cannabinoid, is generally safe to a patient. This guideline explains that the use of marijuana for a short term is very helpful, especially among cancer patients who tend to vomit and feel nauseated immediately after chemotherapy. In other cancer cases that involve surgery of a major part of the body, the patient suffers from extreme bouts of pain and only marijuana relieves the patient from the pain associated with such procedures. Earlier research on marijuana has shown that the long-term use of this plant may result in deleterious effects to the body of the user (O’Connell 16). Although caution has been suggested for chronic users of medicinal marijuana, it is still important that a detailed understanding of the uses and effects of marijuana is achieved by the user.
Marijuana should thus be made legal because there are thousands of cases of cancer around the world and the pain and suffering of these patients should be given more attention and treatment. There may be cases wherein the cancer patients could not withstand any more pain that is associated with their condition that they decide to perform suicide for the simple reason of stopping the pain they are experiencing. Other cancer patients would even plead that they be put to sleep or in medical terms, euthanized, in order to escape their endless suffering in pain (Makumal 468).
Given such conditions of patients who have been diagnosed and treated for serious medical disorders, it is thus helpful to administer marijuana to help these patients survive the pain that is associated with their medical condition. The oath of Hippocrates indicates that a physician should do no harm to the patient and in the case of the use of marijuana for medicinal use, the effect of marijuana helps a patient in his ordeal with his disease. The use of marijuana for pleasure and other recreational purposes will always be different from the medicinal use of marijuana hence marijuana for such purposes should still remain illegal. On the other hand, administration of marijuana for the relief and treatment of symptoms of patients positively diagnosed with cancer or other musculo-skeletal disorders are indeed accepted and legal. It should be understood that these two major diseases are not the only medical conditions that are associated with pain (Zuardi 421).
The production of gall stones and kidney stones are also associated with extreme levels of pain and the patients suffering from such stones often reach the emergency room writhing in pain. The immediate treatment of pain symptoms in the emergency room includes a combination of anti-spasmodics, dilators and pain relievers. Most often the pain relieving drug administered is an analog of morphine and upon administration by intravenous injection, the pain experienced by the patient immediately subsides. It thus should be understood that morphine is also a plant extract that is employed by drug users and at the same time, legally accepted in the medical field. It is thus possible that the use of marijuana achieve the same level of use in the medical field one of these days.
It is thus important to understand that marijuana, when used properly and with sufficient knowledge of its potency and side-effects, may be very helpful in the medical field. Given both the positive and negative effects of the use of marijuana, it thus shows that the benefits of marijuana far outweigh the negative effects of this plant. Should marijuana be legalized for medicinal purposes, a significant number of patients will benefit from such approval and may even lessen the chances of euthanasia.
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