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Marijuana can solve your problem Calista Schenk March 02, 2005 Signal Online
If our government were truly concerned about rescuing our economy, it would legalize marijuana. It is already a prime cash crop (nationally it is the fourth largest), and an increase in usage would also bolster the fast food industry. If combating terrorism were the primary goal, our government would legalize marijuana. There is that government-funded commercial saying that buying marijuana supports terrorism because the money goes to Al Qaeda. Now half the marijuana consumed in the United States is grown domestically, and the major foreign sources are Mexico, Colombia, Canada, and Jamaica, but the minute percentage that funds terrorism would be eliminated if Americans had no reason to use foreign sources. There! I solved that tear-jerking problem for the DEA. I could go on, but I want to focus on the main issue of this column, one that is more important to me than the economy or terrorism: medicine.
A plethora of scientific research has found that marijuana is a highly versatile drug. It can be used in comprehensive treatment plans for multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cancer, HIV/AIDS, chronic neuropathic pain, Tourette's Syndrome, glaucoma, Alzheimer's, anorexia, fibromyalgia, arthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder, endometriosis. There are literally hundreds of medical and psychological conditions marijuana can assuage. It selectively kills cancer cells, acts as an antioxidant, and reduces inflammation and pain, which are just a few of its positive effects.
Some people point out that marijuana also has negative effects. It releases carcinogens when smoked although this effect can be circumvented by the use of a vaporizer, which heats (but does not burn) the marijuana to a temperature that releases the active ingredient THC. Its effects on heart rate and the brain also raise concern, but what legal medicine is free of side effects? Every drug out there used to treat medical conditions has side effects, but the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. If marijuana causes a tumor to go into remission, isn't some memory impairment acceptable?
Drugs that contain selected components of marijuana or allow it to be taken orally (in pill form) have been found to not be as effective for some conditions such as vaporized, inhaled Cannabis sativa. In 2001, U.K.-based GW Pharmaceuticals noted "extracts of cannabis provide greater relief of pain than the equivalent amount of cannabinoid given as a single chemical entity."
Currently, marijuana is a Schedule I drug in the United States. This classification means that there is no accepted medical use for marijuana (despite all the evidence to the contrary), and it has a high potential for abuse (although it is less addictive than both alcohol and tobacco). Other Schedule I drugs include LSD, heroin and mescaline. Schedule II drugs also have a high potential for abuse but are appropriate treatments for certain medical conditions. Cocaine, morphine and dextroamphetamine fall under Schedule II. What this means is that your 7-year-old child can take amphetamine so that he can sit still in class, but your 70-year-old grandmother cannot smoke marijuana to alleviate the nausea and pain associated with her cancer and chemotherapy treatment. Marinol, a marijuana derivative, is a Schedule III drug, which means it is more legal than marijuana, but it is not as effective in treating various conditions. In 2001 in the International Journal of Drug Policy, Harvard psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon, M.D., stated that he had not found a patient who has used both smoked marijuana and Marinol who finds the latter more useful. The most common reason for using Marinol is the illegality of marijuana, and many patients choose to ignore the law when they believe that the difference between the two puts their health, comfort or economic well-being at risk.
I know that our nation is not necessarily fond of policies based on science (evolution and stem cell research, anyone?), but when the only barrier to a drug that offers so much while costing so little is legality, couldn't we make an exception? Everyone has or has had a friend or family member suffer from a condition that could be treated by marijuana. If other treatments had failed your friend or relative and you knew that clinical trials had shown that marijuana was an effective treatment, what would you do?
[note: Calista Schenk is a senior at Georgia State University. Smart kid, eh?]