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Cannabis Sativa (cannabis) emerged as early as the 2700 B.C. in a manuscript found in China. The plant was founded by the European explorers whom arrived to the New World in 1545. Marijuana was well thought-out to be a useful and functional crop so much so, as early as Jamestown settlers began cultivating in Virginia; farmers were fined and charged for not growing hemp. Marijuana was introduced to England in 1617. From the seventeenth to mid-twentieth century, marijuana was deemed to be a household drug which was helpful in curing medical problems such as headaches, menstrual cramps, and toothaches. In the period from year 1913 to 1938, American drug companies diversified the usage of marijuana plant in their drug production. Therefore these drugs made were called Cannabis Americana.
Prior to the year 1910, the development and trade of marijuana was inadequate and limited. However, following the conclusion of the Mexican Revolution, drug trafficking had flourished, making growth and transport of the drug effortless and more profitable. The business extended through black market to reach the ports of New Orleans, alongside other strains of the plant, to sailors passing through, as well as local residents. With time, the use of marijuana began to overshadow the historic applications of cannabis especially for medicinal purposes only.
1.2 The Science behind Marijuana Usage.
Marijuana is a commonly used name in society for the hemp plant. In scientific terms, the hemp plant is also called Cannabis Sativa. As generations passed marijuana has evolved and many new names have arisen from this modernization. Amongst the many frequently used names for marijuana today are pot, grass, weed, herb, Mary Jane and Reefer. Marijuana has the looks of a greenish grey mixture and is composed of dried shredded leaves, stems, seeds and flowers of the Cannabis Sativa plant.
Most users of marijuana, smoke marijuana in hand rolled cigarettes called joints, among various other ways marijuana is taken is by the brewing of the shredded leaves and stems into tea or coffee. In some cases marijuana is also consumed by mixing into foods such as biscuits and cakes.
According to researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the major active chemical in marijuana that causes users of this herb or drug to feel a sense of euphoria is the major active chemical in Marijuana which is delta-9-tetrahydrol-cannabidol or commonly known as THC. THC causes the user of marijuana to feel a mind-altering effect which is also know as marijuana intoxification. The quantity of THC consumed by the drug user detects and determines the potency and therefore bringing out the effects of Marijuana.
Advantages in the usage of Marijuana.
2.1 Medical Use of Marijuana.
Before cannabis was made illegal, a large number of people had used it as a medication for a large number of diseases and disabilities for over thousands of years without even any harm associated with many of today's commonly used medications. According to the Misuse of Drugs Act cannabis is classed as a substance with no medical value. However, an uncountable amount of anecdotal evidence and increasing amounts of modern research has found that it is useful for an incredibly large number of symptoms.
The ancient Egyptians, used cannabis to treat various diseases, for example sore eyes. Many Centuries later doctors in India were found mixing cannabis into milk to use as an anesthetic. The ancient Greeks also were among people who used cannabis for its medicinal values. In the 19th century marijuana was praised by medical journals for its effectiveness. In the year 1996 the state of California of the United States of America approved Marijuana for medical use in treating people suffering from cancer, AIDS, chronic pain and other illnesses. Today 60% of Americans support legalizing it for medical use, according to an April 2010 AP-CNBC poll. (Time Magazine, 2010)
The fact and actuality that cannabis is effective in reducing muscle spasms which is associated with multiple sclerosis and pain caused by certain neurological injuries and illnesses, was verified through the results of the only United States clinical trial testing. The results were obtained through the medicinal properties of inhaled Cannabis sativa. The trial sponsored by the California-funded Centre for Medical Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego, enrolled general public suffering from multiple sclerosis, AIDS, or diabetes along with healthy volunteers which were injected with chilli pepper substance to induce pain. They were randomly assigned to receive cigarettes filled with marijuana. The results of this test were comparable to people who experienced pain relief after taking medicines produced in the market. (Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, 2010)
2.2 The various diseases which Marijuana can help.
Although not many people agree to the medical uses of marijuana Supporters of the drug claim it has wide-ranging benefits, there is scientific evidence that suggest that cannabis may be useful for treating a number of medical conditions. In the United Kingdom wide scale trials and research is currently being done to test the safety and efficiency of cannabis. Among the benefits of cannabis in the medical field is cannabis has proven to reduce side effects of chemotherapy treatment which is specifically given to cancer patients. This is because the drugs that are used to treat cancer are amongst the most prevailing and toxic chemicals used in medication. In addition, they produce unpleasant and repulsive side effects such as vomiting for days or sometimes even weeks and nausea after every treatment process.
Furthermore, cannabis is an anti emetic. It is a drug that relieves nausea and allows patients to carry out their daily activities like every other human being. Cannabis extracts that are given to patients suffering from multiple sclerosis seem to gain benefit as it is reported that muscle spasms are eased while tremors are significantly reduced. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the oral usage of drobabinol, a cannabis derivative which is used to stimulate and arouse appetites for people who are suffering from AIDS. Menstrual cramps and childbirth pain may be also relieved and eased through the consumption of cannabis. Cannabis also has been proven to prevent seizures in epileptic patients when given in combination with prescription drugs. Marijuana also cures eye diseases such as glaucoma, a disease that can cause blindness and loss of vision.
Disadvantages in the usage of Marijuana
3.1 Acute Effects of Marijuana
When marijuana is consumed by an individual, the effects begin immediately after the THC which is contained in marijuana enters the blood stream and eventually reaches the brain and the effects can last for 1 to 3 hours depending on the amount consumed. Smoking marijuana releases more THC into the blood stream compared to orally consuming marijuana in food. After inhaling marijuana smoke, it only takes minutes for an individual's heart to begin beating faster and more rapidly. Then, the bronchial passages to enlarge and relax causing the blood vessels in the eyes expand, hence making the eyes appear red in colour.
3.1.1 Immediate Effects in Small Amounts
As THC enters the brain through the bloodstream, it causes the consumer to feel euphorically 'high'. This is because there is an immediate stimulation of the brain cells to release dopamine. Also, a marijuana user may experience pleasant sensations, colours and sounds which will seem more intense. Time will slow down and appear to pass by leisurely. Among the other acute effects is the user's mouth becoming dry and the user feels thirsty and extremely hungry. As the euphoria and exhilaration ends, the user will feel drowsy, lethargic and disheartened. From time to time, marijuana causes anxiety, fright and nervousness.
3.1.2 Immediate Effects in Large Amounts
Heavy marijuana use will impair a person's capability to form reminiscences, remember events and shift awareness from one thing to another. The excessive usage of marijuana will lead to a large amount of THC in the body which can impair coordination and balance. Furthermore very high levels of THC in body may cause acute toxic psychosis, which includes side effects such as hallucinations, delusions and depersonalization.
3.2 Marijuana's effect on physical health
Stinging sensations in the mouth and throat which are frequently associated with heavy coughs, originate from the intake of marijuana into the body. In addition, marijuana smokers have many of the same symptoms and respiratory problems which tobacco smokers have. These include daily coughing, increased phlegm production, regular chest illness, a heightened risk of lung infectivity and a greater tendency of obstructed airways in the throat.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), smoking marijuana actually doubles or triples the risk of getting cancer. Marijuana has the potential and likelihood to promote cancer much easier because of the irritants and carcinogens found in the drug itself. Moreover, marijuana smoke contains around 50 to 70 percent more carcinogens in its drug when compared to tobacco cigarettes. THC which is a product of marijuana also has the ability to impair the immune system's ability to fight of infectious diseases.
NIDA also stated that laboratory experiments were conducted with animals and human cells where they were exposed to THC. The normal disease preventing reactions of these cells were inhibited due to the presence of THC. Another study also indicated that during the first hour period immediately after smoking marijuana, a person's risk of getting a heart attack is significantly high because marijuana increases blood pressure and the heart rate by a substantial number.
Users of marijuana who consume large amounts of marijuana may become dependent to it. Physical dependency on marijuana can develop and the user may experience withdrawal symptoms if marijuana is suddenly stopped. Among the symptoms which are in correlation to users who have stopped marijuana are flu like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, irritation, anxiety and so on.
In conclusion, marijuana has been around for almost a millennium and has stood the test of time on the face of earth. Marijuana has been used by all forms of society and cultures all around the world. The ancient Greeks, the Indians, and many other cultures used marijuana for its medical purposes to cure many problems such as pain due to, ear infections, labor , sore eyes, Chemotherapy , AIDS ,chronic pain etc. Ultimately, it was an anesthesia, a pain relieving agent. This was the most important property of marijuana that helped man get through illness during the early centuries. Although marijuana has it's moments it, like everything else isn't good in excess, like the old saying goes "never too much of a good thing".
Society on the other hand has failed too understand the purpose and use of marijuana, and thus there is a misuse of it. With a prescription to marijuana patients may get their first to addiction of it. This may continue to lead to various health problems such as, burning and stinging sensations in the mouth and throat, respiratory problems such as heavy coughs, increased phlegm production, frequent chest illness, heightened risk of lung infections and greater tendency of obstructed airways in the throat. Moreover, the possibility of getting infected with respiratory tract and lung cancer is higher by smoking marijuana. Ironically, the very same thing that was being used to aid someone on the road to cancer recovery is now, a cause of cancer.
Ultimately, if the disadvantages and advantages of marijuana in medicine were to be put on a beam balance, it would come to a balance. On the other hand, one more thing must be taken into order, as marijuana is not the only anesthesia out there. In modern medicine we have come to realize many more types of anesthesia that are less dangerous to man, and in fact more effective with less side effects to the human body. On the other hand, when our society, our people become dependent on marijuana, death is thrown into the equation that was balance, and that is not an acceptable choice. Therefore I choose to stand against marijuana use for medical purposes as there is more harm then good from medical use of marijuana. (Word Count 2004)