Marijuana And Medicine 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.