Legalizing Medical Marijuana Essays

Submitted By mpaduch
Words: 1727
Pages: 7

Legalizing Marijuana In 1969 a Gallup poll showed that only twelve percent of Americans favored legalizing marijuana, where as by stark contrast, a Gallup poll taken in October of 2013 shows that fifty eight percent of Americans now believe the drug should be legalized (Swift par. 1). In recent years there is a growing movement to decriminalize marijuana possession as well as legalize it for medicinal use in the United States. Proponents for both sides have made arguments about the risks and the benefits of prescribing marijuana for people suffering from a variety of health problems, ranging from mild ailments to life threatening diseases. There have also been arguments made from both sides about the possible effects of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes on such things as the justice system and state revenue. With the health risks being few and the benefits being many, along with the possibility of lowering prison populations and providing new sources of revenue, the state of Florida should legalize marijuana for medicinal uses. To better understand the physical aspect of medicinal marijuana, there is a need to understand how it “works.” Khamsi explains that the human body naturally produces molecules called endocannabinoids. These molecules bind to “cannabinoid receptors that help to regulate appetite, mood, and memory.” Because tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), “the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana” has the same structure as the natural endocannabinoids, it also binds to the receptors (par. 4). Khamsi further clarifies that the binding of THC to cannabinoid receptors results “in both unusually elevated and abnormally low levels of various neurotransmitters” (par. 5). This explains the change in a persons’ physical feelings, such as relaxation or hunger, and their emotional state, such as happiness or humor. While there has been a great shift in favor of legalization of medicinal marijuana, there are still many that believe the risks outweigh the benefits. The most spoken about risk is the effect of actually smoking marijuana. “The British Lung Foundation reported in Nov. 2002 that [three to four] marijuana cigarettes a day are as dangerous to the lungs as [twenty] or more tobacco cigarettes a day (Know n.11). However in 2006 a study presented by UCLA “found no association between marijuana and lung cancer, and it suggested that marijuana may even have ‘some protective effect’ ” (Know n. 12). However, whether cigarette or marijuana smoke, respiratory complications “such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections” can arise from inhalation (Drug par. 13). To combat these issues marijuana can be brewed as a tea, it can used directly or extracted into a butter to use for cooking or baking, it is offered as a lollipop, and a variety of other ways to avoid the inhalation of smoke to receive the benefits of THC. It is important to note that how much smoke inhalation affects the respiratory system has a correlation with how much and how often it is smoked. “An analysis published last year of data on more than [five thousand] Americans did not find a decline in lung function among individuals who smoked joints two or three times a month over two decades” (Khamsi par. 12). Even in 1999, under a US government commission, the “Institute of Medicine report[ed]…that under certain narrow conditions marijuana should be medically available to some patients, even though ‘numerous studies suggest that marijuana smoke is an important risk factor in the development of respiratory disease’ ”(Know n. 14). A well respected organization is stating they believe that under the right circumstances, the benefit is worth the risk. Another much voiced risk is marijuana’s adverse impact on cognitive functions, mainly learning and memory. “Dozens of studies have shown…people under the influence of marijuana perform worse on tests of working memory…blunts