Dec. 2, 2012
Should Marijuana Be Legalized? Originally from Central Asia, cannabis (marijuana) is one of the oldest psychotropic drugs known to humanity (Ben Amar, 2006). According to Ben Amar, in 1839, William
O’Shaughnessy, a British physician discovered the analgesic, appetite stimulant, anti-emetic, muscle relaxant, and anti-convulsant properties of cannabis (2006). The question that is raised, though, is whether or not marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes, recreational use or not at all? Personally, I feel that marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes only due to the beneficial natures that will be discussed within this paper as a whole.
Marijuana when smoked increases the chance of lung cancer and other smoking related illnesses. According to Monique Clawson RN, tobacco is usually smoked with marijuana, and this is also a carcinogenic substance, therefore, increasing the chances of getting lung cancer or any other related lung illnesses. The smoke produced by burning cannabis is less carcinogenic than tobacco if smoked alone, but that is rarely the case. Numerous studies have shown marijuana smoke to contain carcinogens and to be an irritant to the lungs. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke (NIDA infofacts, 2010). Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than do tobacco smokers, which further increases the lungs’ exposure to the carcinogenic smoke. Marijuana works more quickly and more intensely when it is smoked than when it is ingested. Clawson also stated that tetrahydracannabonoid (THC) reaches the brain within seconds after smoking; peak effects occur in about half an hour; and the high lasts several hours depending upon the dose of THC ingested.
One study found that smoking marijuana results increased production of a protein that raises the body’s levels of blood fats associated with heart disease and strokes, according to Nora Volkou in the May 23, 2008 issue of US News and World Report (Baldauf, 2008). Government researchers, therefore, concluded that marijuana might be a factor in heart disease. However, Steven Childers, a Wake Forest University professor quoted in the same article, said that while the study was interesting; it did not prove that a cause-and-effect relationship exists between smoking marijuana and increased heart disease. He states further that the studies have shown marijuana to be useful in reducing intra-ocular pressure in glaucoma patients as well as pain management in cancer patients.
Inhaling cannabinoids especially THC, may cause problems for many patients. Blood levels rise suddenly and then drop off sharply. This rapid on-off effect may produce significant intoxication, particularly in patients who are new to cannabinoids (NIDA Infofacts, 2010). This may pose the risk of abuse potential. Smoking cannabinoids produces this effect, which is the very reason that recreational users prefer the inhaled route. Patients, however, generally wish to avoid psychological effects, and it is unclear how difficult it might be to find a dosing pattern that enables them to have pain control without side effects. Psychological effects of marijuana vary among users. It can affect mood, sensitivity to external stimuli and perception of time and space, says Clawson RN. Clawson RN also asserts that high doses can lead to panic reactions, anxiety, and even paranoia. Habitual use of the drug leads to loss of motivation in all areas of life. It is easy to get stuck in a cycle of smoking, although the substance itself has not been proven to be addictive. Clawson RN states that it is the feeling the drug produces which becomes second nature to many people too quickly. Many studies have documented a link between smoking marijuana and the later use of “harder” drugs such as heroin