Foremost in our society, marijuana is known as a recreational drug. However, for the people in the United States who suffer from diseases and conditions like cancer, depression, anxiety, stress, attention deficit disorder, epilepsy, migraines, meningitis and chronic pain, marijuana may appeal to them as a medicinal drug. Many Americans believe that if this drug can relieve the pain and suffering of so many, then it needs to be considered for a medical purpose.

Marijuana Should Be Legalized for Medical Purposes

In 1972, after reviewing the scientific evidence, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse concluded that while marijuana was not entirely safe, its dangers had been grossly inflated. Since then, researchers have conducted thousands of studies of humans, animals, and cell cultures, none of which expose any findings significantly different from those expressed by the National Commission in 1972. In 1995, based on thirty years of scientific research, editors of the British medical journal Lancet concluded that “the smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health.”

In a 2003 article, the American Civil Liberties Union explains that no one has ever died from an overdose from marijuana used as a recreational or medicinal drug.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, marijuana has been shown to be effective in lessening the nausea induced by cancer chemotherapy, rousing appetite in AIDS patients, and reducing intraocular pressure in people with glaucoma. There is also substantial evidence that marijuana reduces muscle spasticity in patients with neurological disorders. A synthetic capsule is available by prescription only, but it is not as effective as smoked marijuana for many patients. Pure THC may also produce more unpleasant psychoactive side effects than smoked marijuana.

In regards to cancer, marijuana can stimulate the appetite and alleviate nausea and vomiting, which are common side effects of chemotherapy treatment.

In the book The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Jack Herer states that researchers at the Medical College of Virginia discovered that cannabis (marijuana) is an incredibly successful herb for reducing many types of tumors, both benign and malignant.

In the article “Hemp and Health,” Nelson reports that THC and CBN (the primary chemicals in marijuana) have inhibited primary tumor growth from 25 to 82% and increased the life expectancy of cancerous mice to the same extent. The anti tumor property of THC and CBN is very selective, as it reduces tumor cells without damaging normal cells.

Joycelyn Elders, M.D. wrote in a 3/26/04 editorial published in the Providence Journal in Rhode Island: “The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS—or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them. And it can do so with remarkable safety. Indeed, marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day.”
The U.K.’s Medicinal Cannabis Research Foundation published on their website in November, 2001 that medicinal use of marijuana could provide a dramatic improvement in quality of life for people with: AIDS wasting syndrome, Glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, Hypertension, Arthritis, Multiple sclerosis, Asthma, Nail Patella Syndrome, Brain injury/stroke, Nausea (which accompanies chemotherapy), Crohn’s/colitis, Chronic pain, Depression/Mental illness, Phantom limb pain, Eating disorders, Migraine, Epilepsy, Spinal cord injury, Fibromyalgia, and Tourette’s syndrome. This improvement in quality of life results from marijuana’s lessening effect of chronic pain, spasm, bladder dysfunction and nausea.

Researchers from GW Pharmaceuticals wrote in an article published in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics that in practice it has been found that, compared to the equivalent amount of cannabinoid given as a single chemical entity such as Marinol, extracts of cannabis offer greater relief of pain (Pharmaceutical-quality Marinol provides standardized THC concentrations).

Cannabinoids taken by mouth begin working more gradually and are absorbed more unpredictably than inhaled marijuana, so many patients prefer the latter, University of Montreal pharmacologist Mohamed Ben Amar wrote in a paper posted in March by the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug in the United States today, states the Drug Policy Alliance. It has been said that people who have used drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and LSD, are likely to have also used marijuana. Yet most marijuana users never use any other illegal drug. Indeed, for the large majority of people, marijuana is a finishing point rather than a gateway drug.

None of the medical tests, as per the Drug Policy Alliance, presently utilized to detect brain damage in humans have found harm from marijuana, even from long term high-dose use. An early study detailed brain damage in rhesus monkeys after six months exposure to high concentrations of marijuana smoke. In a recent, more carefully conducted study, researchers failed to find evidence of brain abnormality in monkeys that were forced to inhale the equivalent of four to five marijuana cigarettes every day for a year. The claim that marijuana kills brain cells originated from a provisional report dating back a quarter of a century that has not been sufficiently corroborated.