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Com220 Final Paper

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Marijuana: Not Just Another Illegal Substance
Com/220
Louisa Verhaart
4/14/10

I. Even though it is illegal, marijuana is not the drug people think it is.
A. What is marijuana and how do people use it?
1. Marijuana is a drug that’s active ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and is cut and dried from the plant known as cannabis.
2. The most common way to use marijuana is to smoke it by rolling it into a cigarette paper (a joint) or the outside of a cigar (a blunt).
B. Marijuana has been illegal for decades now, but why is it illegal?
1. A big part of why marijuana is illegal is because it is considered an addicting drug and when the law was passed most people didn’t have the right information about this drug.
2. Marijuana was made federally illegal in the United States in 1937 by the Marihuana Tax Act.

II. There are a lot of myths about using marijuana that are not true.
A. Parents tell their kids that marijuana kills brain cells.
1. No medical test that has been used to show brain damage in people has found that marijuana kills brain cells.
2. Supporting example 2 in a complete sentence.
B. Using marijuana while pregnant can cause developmental problems and birth defects.
1. Test were ran on newborns to older kids, no results came back that there was any developmental problems.
2. Older kids of prenatal users and nonusers were tested and only small differences were found with some results better than others.

III. Marijuana can help with some medical problems.
A. Smoking marijuana helps chemo patients to keep their weight at a healthy level.
1. Smoking marijuana helps chemo patients keep an appetite due to the THC content.
2. The THC in marijuana also reduces nausea and vomiting in chemo patients.
B. Marijuana can be useful to treat chronic pain.
1. Marijuana has some side effects that can be considered useful in some pain situations.
2. Marijuana works as a mild analgesics unlike codeine, morphine, and opiates which are the three most widely used types of pain management medications.

Marijuana is not the drug people believe it to be. Over the years many myths have circulated about this drug and no one seems to check the facts before they jump to conclusions about it. Throughout this paper I will be discussing the various myths that have formed over time and how this drug could become beneficial in the medical field. People have the right to believe what they wish but I think they deserve to know the facts before they rule out a different belief. What if marijuana could help someone close to you, would you be willing to over look the truth because something you heard about it scared you?

Marijuana may be illegal but that doesn’t meant everyone has the correct facts about what it is, what it does, or how it is used. Marijuana is derived from the plant know as Cannabis sativa and is cultivated by cutting and drying the flowers, also known as the buds, that form on the plant.

U.S. Drugs Enforcement Administration, 2010 [Photograph of loose marijuana buds] Retrieved from http://www.justice.gov/dea/images_marijuana.html There are many street names for this drug but some of this most common are pot, weed, green, grass, Mary Jane, refer, ganja, and reggie. The active ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol or better known as THC. Most people use marijuana by smoking it using various methods such as rolling a joint, rolling a blunt, using a pipe or bong, some people however take THC pills or ingest with food. A joint looks like a filter less cigarette and is rolled the same way, a blunt is rolled by emptying out the contents of a cigar and re filling it with marijuana. Each person that does this drug has a different way of doing it than the next person but no matter how it is done it is still illegal.

Marijuana has been illegal for almost a century now but do people really know why or how it became officially illegal? Marijuana was made officially set to be taxed in the United States in 1937 due to the Marihuana Tax Act. This act made it seem like there was only going to be a tax on marijuana for all persons involved whether they were producing, transferring, selling, giving away, prescribing, or using but this act in fact made it basically illegal for most people because of the regulations that were set. Doctors that wanted to prescribe this medication to patients not only had to pay the tax of $1 per year but they also had to break the doctor patient confidentiality code because they were made to give out all patient information including patient named, their address, what problem the marijuana was prescribed for, how much was prescribed, the dates of prescription, and other things of that nature. It the doctors failed to do this in a certain amount of time not only did they face incarceration and a fine but the patients did as well. Section 12 of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 states that “Any person who is convicted of a violation of any provision of this Act shall be fined not more than $2,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, in the discretion of the court.” While section 12 insists that any persons in violation of any provision will not be fined more than $2,000 and or receive no more than 5 years imprisonment section 14 of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 states “The Secretary is authorized to make, prescribe, and publish all necessary rules and regulations for carrying out the provisions of this Act and to confer or impose any of the rights, privileges, powers, and duties conferred or imposed upon him by this Act upon such officers or employees of the Treasury Department as he shall designate or appoint.” Section 14 basically gives the Secretary all over power to changes these rules and make them into anything he wishes if he is inclined to do so which makes all other sections of the Marihuana Tax Act invalid because the Secretary can changes all parts as he sees fit. Anslinger, the Secretary for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, thought that if marijuana was officially taxed and made illegal for those that did not pay taxes then it would solve the rising fear in the southwest but it did not.

Over the years there have been many myths about marijuana and its use that have circulated in the United States. Almost all of these myths have been disproven but yet the population does not know the true facts and still believe in these myths. One of the most well know myths is that using marijuana kills your brain cells and causes permanent alteration of brain structure and function but this is not true. Medical studies have been conducted and it is proven that using marijuana does not have any adverse affects on brain cells and that this myth has never been supported by any medical or scientific study. Another of the more common myths that has been in circulations for years is that marijuana is a highly addictive drug in which long term users have withdrawal symptoms and other problems when trying to quit. While this drug can be addictive the majority of users never become addicted and normally have no problems when stopping the use of marijuana. If there are ever any withdrawal symptoms they are mild and marijuana never causes a physical dependency such as with most pain medications, cigarettes, and alcohol. One of the myths I find the most interesting is the myth that smoking marijuana is more dangerous to the lungs than smoking tobacco. This myth is written about in the book Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts: A Review of The Scientific Facts by Zimmer, Lynn and Morgan, John and in this they disprove the myth about marijuana being more harmful. Zimmer, Lynn and Morgan, John (1997) stated, “Moderate smoking of marijuana appears to pose minimal danger to the lungs. Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke contains a number of irritants and carcinogens. But marijuana users typically smoke much less often than tobacco smokers, and over time, inhale much less smoke. As a result, the risk of serious lung damage should be lower in marijuana smokers. There have been no reports of lung cancer related solely to marijuana, and in a large study presented to the American Thoracic Society in 2006, even heavy users of smoked marijuana were found not to have any increased risk of lung cancer. Unlike heavy tobacco smokers, heavy marijuana smokers exhibit no obstruction of the lung's small airway. That indicates that people will not develop emphysema from smoking marijuana.” As you can see there are many untrue ideas about marijuana that most of the public fail to look into when they hear about them.

Marijuana may be illegal but there are many things in the medical world that it can be used to, not prevent but, help keep under control. There have been medical studies that have shown that marijuana can be used as a pain management drug and it is less harmful than using most of the pain medications that are readily available to the public on a daily basis. Narcotics that are available now such as Vicodin, Morphine, Soma, and Klonopin are not only sold illegally, like marijuana, but they have strong side effects that using marijuana does not have. These drugs can become highly addictive and cause physical dependencies to the point where even if the user is not in pain they will believe they are still in pain and run the risk of overdosing if too many are taken. Marijuana could be a safe addition to the medications that are available to people today because it lacks the sometimes deadly side effects that other types of narcotics have.

Reefer Logic, 2009 [Photograph of “Medical Marijuana”] Retrieved from http://www.reeferlogic.com/index.php/unethical-journalism/ Not only can marijuana help with pain management it is also proven to help cancer patients going through chemotherapy. It is very important that chemo patients maintain a healthy weight although it is hard for them due to the fact that chemo can cause severe nausea, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Studies have shown that using marijuana, or synthetic THC, helps to reduce nausea and vomiting in chemo patients, which in turn helps them to have at least a normal appetite again. In the states that do condone the use of medical marijuana doctors do not give this drug out freely to chemo patients. In order to be prescribed this type of medication the doctors will have put the patients on multiple other medications to control the nausea and vomiting they are experiencing. If these other medications do not help then the doctors will take into account age, patient condition, and other medications that have been prescribed and only then could an individual be given a prescription for medical marijuana. Yes marijuana is illegal in most states but I think that the states that have noticed that it can be helpful as a medication have it right.

I can’t change how people feel about marijuana or that it is illegal but I can give people that correct facts and let them choose what they want to believe. Marijuana is not the drug people believe it to be. It is proven that this drug can help people with certain illnesses or disorders and that it is not as harmful as some of the prescription medication that is readily available to the public. There is always a time to be scared when it comes to drugs and I don’t believe that this is it. Given the information provided in this paper how do you feel about legalizing marijuana for medical use, do you support it?

1. U.S National Institutes of Health. (2000). National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Support/marijuana

2. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base (1999)
Institute of Medicine (IOM) http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=6376&page=1

3. Zimmer, Lynn and Morgan, John. Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts: A Review Of The Scientific Evidence. New York: The Drug Policy Alliance. 1997, 241 pages http://www.drugpolicy.org/marijuana/factsmyths/

4. Narconon International. (n.d.). Drug Prevention & Rehabilitation. Retrieved from http://www.narconon.org/drug-information/marijuana-timeline.html

5. (n.d.). Schaffer Library of Drug Policy. Retrieved from http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/taxact/mjtaxact.htm…...

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