Essay on The Medicinal Marijuana Debate
For years research groups, certain state governments, pharmaceutical companies and even some physicians have battled with the federal government over the legalization of the marijuana plant for medicinal purposes. Large amounts of research have been devoted to both sides of the argument; however, many of the studies contradict each other when naming the benefits and risks of marijuana. How can we decide whether the therapeutic values of marijuana outweigh the hazards of the drug when there have been no definitive findings? First we must review what is known about marijuana, such as how the chemicals in it affect the body, and then pick which study results seem more scientifically sound.
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1) Ease nausea and vomiting while stimulating the appetite;
2) Reduce pain;
3) Relieve intra-ocular pressure in glaucoma patients;
4) Control muscle spasms, which has proven helpful to sufferers of spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and Tourette's syndrome ((2), (6)).
Do the risks of using marijuana prevail over all of these supposed benefits? The federal branch of the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a statement containing the arguments behind why the government opposes medicinal marijuana. According to the DEA, marijuana is highly addictive, usually serves as a "gateway drug", weakens the immune system and causes cancer ((4)). But how can we believe all these statements when the government lists very few sources for their data? One study conducted by the United States concluded that marijuana smoke may lead to cancer by causing abnormalities in the cells that line the lungs. Although this verifies one of the DEA's claims, the study also claimed that dependence on the drug is rare. The same study found no evidence for the argument that marijuana is a gateway drug; actually, the research states that the true gateway