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Legalization of Marijuana

People of America have been viciously trying to legalize marijuana for many years now. I found out that all of their ideas, opinions, and sides basically divide into three basic groups. Many think that it is not worth legalizing marijuana, many seem to think it should be legalized, and a group of people says it should only be legalized for medicinal purposes. In the following paragraphs, I will try to show you the reason for all three opinions. My hopes of doing this research project were to determine what effects marijuana has along with different substances in the body. I also decided to determine the differences between marijuana and tobacco, due to people misunderstanding about both of them in society today.

First of all, I started my research specifically on the subject. Is marijuana more dangerous than tobacco, but after searching online there wasn’t enough information, I had to not be so specific. I understand which one is more dangerous between tobacco and marijuana as well as the long-term effects. Both animal and human testings have been done, they’ve proven that marijuana impairs lung functions to greater extents than tobacco cigarettes do. But, this does not necessarily mean that marijuana users are putting themselves at more risk nessicarily. A typical marijuana user will smoke maybe two joints a day, where a typical tobacco-user will smoke between forty and sixty cigarettes in the same period. Now the effects vary. Marijuana may have more tar in it, but as a typical smoker in America, the rate that tobacco-users put themselves at is a much larger scale and so they are at higher risk.

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Also, there is a chemical called benzopyrene that is 70% more abundant in marijuana than tobacco. This chemical is believed to cause cancer. Tobacco has the same dangerous chemicals in it but doesn’t have THC which marijuana has. THC, which is known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical that produces the “high” feeling that people get when consuming marijuana. Marijuana usually does not contain more than 1 percent of THC. There are stronger drugs related to THC, such as “hash oil”, which can contain up to a 28 percent THC level. There have been some cases where “street” marijuana has been found to contain up to 5 percent THC. That is very potent for normal marijuana and is probably very hard to come by in the United States. Usually, hydroponic marijuana is found to have a potency of up to 5%. Some other countries seem to use different forms of THC-related drugs such as hashish, and hemp. Both of these contain more THC than marijuana. As far as the long-term effects of tobacco and marijuana go, they are about the same.

Cancer sometimes appears more in the lungs of a tobacco-user earlier due to the amount the tobacco-user smokes in relation to a normal marijuana smoker. There have been many theories that marijuana will cause long-term brain damage and so on, but, clinically, none of this has ever been proven. Through some of my own experiences, I can tell tobacco and marijuana contain a fair quantity of tar. Marijuana contains a little more and will actually “feel” heavier on the lungs after smoking. That is why when I use to hold the smoke in for long periods
of time it made me cough harsher due to the amount of tar being exposed to my lungs. Cancer has definitely been related to smoking and is
the largest killer in the United States today. So marijuana contains more dangerous cancer-causing chemicals than tobacco does.

Although many of you would support marijuana as being more dangerous, in the society we live in today and the amount of tobacco that tobacco-users consume makes it not so. Due to the smaller amounts used by marijuana-users, tobacco has definitely been proven the “killer” in today’s society. Additionally, one of the current trends today is the use of both marijuana and alcohol in combination. Alcohol has already proven to be a “lethal” drug, especially when driving, but together with marijuana, the effects are much greater than either drug alone.
when comparing between both of them, alcohol has many more damages to the human body than marijuana. Both drugs can become dependent upon, and the effects can be life-destroying. Alcohol, the physical is hard on the body. Alcohol suppresses the body of certain vitamins and minerals, causing an unsteady diet. It also wreaks havoc on bowel movements! So when I drank whiskey I knew the next morning why I had to poop so bad.

As far as marijuana goes, there may be a little redness in the eyes and gaining weight. The gaining in weight is due to “munchies” as many marijuana smokers experience after usage of the drug. The reasons for both of their uses are different, but that really doesn’t matter in this paper. As a couple of these online articles, I found there has been some interesting information concerning the usage of these drugs together. Marijuana and alcohol not only harm our minds and by movements but also influence our ability to tell reality from dreams. Alcohol on
the subject of driving is more dangerous as well. Although the effects of driving under the influence of marijuana may seem harmful the fact still stands clear that more accidents are caused by drunk drivers than any other drug or combination of them. Most of the information I found on the effects of driving under the influence of marijuana was very negative, but it just didn’t seem to make sense since so few accidents are caused by driving under the influence of this drug.

One book said, more or less, that there is good evidence that marijuana interferes with driving skills and is a significant factor in erratic driving. That seems like a valid statement. But, another source stated after experimentation, that the experienced marijuana smokers showed “no” impairment of performance in their driving ability. The opposite held true for the counterparts of inexperienced marijuana smokers, but this fact was very contradicting to everything else I had read to this point. There it was, in black in white, researched and everything, that there was “no” impairment of performance in the marijuana smokers driving ability under the influence of the drug. Only one conclusion could be made from that. Driving under the influence of marijuana is a learned skill. I guess Cheech and Chong had it mastered!!!”

Finally, on to a more personal note. Marijuana and combinations with other drugs have been growing around the colleges for years. I always thought–yeah, yeah, all the parties and events that go on are the places to find them. I actually have about 8 friends that are currently in college, and they have attested that this was definitely correct, both at Ann Arbor, Lansing, Western, Huron Valley, and MSTATE. The surveys were 100% correct with the information that alcohol and marijuana are the highest used drug combination. There are also many other drugs coming back into popularity from both the past and new ones. A new combination that I have heard about is Nitrous (laughing gas) combined with marijuana use. It is supposedly a potent combination and could call for more research. I did a little on my own and found out a couple of things. Nitrous-Oxide, which is normally found in dentist offices all over, is a mixture of nitrous and oxygen and is used to put a patient to sleep for surgical reasons.

The other kind going around in circulation is pure nitrous, without the oxygen compound. The gas found at the dentist’s office is supposedly safe, as I consulted with a dentist on this topic, but nitrous in pure form is thought to kill brain cells. Although I didn’t get too far into this research, I found it interesting. I was just curious because the word around is that it is an intense “high.” In no way am I implying that I have experienced any of this! The myth “No one has ever died of a marijuana overdose” is true. This myth was put to a test; it showed that animal tests revealed extremely high doses of marijuana are needed to have any lethal effect. This has led scientists to find that the ratio of the amount of marijuana necessary to get a person stoned is relative to the amount necessary to kill them is one to 40,000. In other words, to overdose, you would have to consume 40,000 times as much marijuana as you needed to get stoned.

A ten to one ratio of alcohol would certainly cause alcohol poisoning. It is easy to see how five thousand people die of alcohol overdoses every year and “no one has EVER died of a marijuana overdose.” “Marijuana is a “gateway” drug that leads to hard drugs.” This statement is a recurring myth. Currently, the Netherlands is a prime example of what happens when marijuana is readily available. The Dutch partly legalized marijuana in the 1970s. Since then, hard drug use–heroin and cocaine–has declined substantially. If marijuana really were a gateway drug, one would have expected the use of hard drugs to have gone up, not down. This apparent “negative gateway” effect has also been observed in the United States. Studies done in the early 1970s showed a negative correlation between marijuana and the use of alcohol. In 1993 a Rand Corporation study compared drug use in states that had decriminalized marijuana versus those that had not.

The study showed that where marijuana was more available–hard drug use (according to emergency rooms) decreased. In short, what science and actual experience tell us is that marijuana tends to substitute for the much more dangerous hard drugs like alcohol, cocaine, and heroin. The statement “Legalization of marijuana would cause more car accidents on the highway” is yet another myth. Marijuana does impair a person’s performance much like alcohol. Studies of the effects of marijuana on automobile accidents suggest that it poses
less of a hazard than alcohol. When a random sample of fatal accident victims was studied, it was found that marijuana was associated with relatively as many accidents as alcohol. However, a closer examination revealed that around 85% of the people intoxicated on marijuana were also intoxicated on alcohol. For people only intoxicated on marijuana, the rate was much lower than for alcohol alone. This evidence has also been supported by other research using several completely different methods.

To try and explain feeling stoned to someone who has never been there is very difficult. A survey in 1971 of 100 volunteers who were regular marijuana smokers produced the following results as to what being stoned actually is. Many users notice a greater sense of sound, increased hunger (eating a whole week’s food in one night), thirst, dry mouth, feelings of increased empathy, and a feeling that time has slowed down. The majority of subjects experienced no ill-effects, slept well, and awoke calm and clear-headed after the acute effects had passed. A small number of users reported negative feelings of anxiety. The feelings you experience are also influenced by the amount of marijuana you take, its potency, the environment you are in, and your emotional state before getting stoned. It is probably impossible to describe exactly what it is, but the above survey is a fair report of what happens to you when you get stoned.

The myth “There are more than a thousand chemicals in marijuana smoke” is true, but misleading. The August 31, 1990 issue of the magazine Science notes that of the more than 800 damaging chemicals present in coffee, only twenty-one have actually been tested on animals and sixteen of these cause cancer in rodents. Yet coffee remains legal and is generally considered fairly safe. The dominant fear about marijuana in the 20th century has been that its effects were somehow similar to the dangerously addictive effects of opiates such as morphine and heroin. Scientists feared that, like opiates, it had an extremely high potential for abuse and addiction. Despite the widespread decriminalization of marijuana in the United States in the 1970s, this concern has remained the basis for federal law and policies regarding the use and study of marijuana. But the discovery of THC receptor sites in the brain refutes that thinking and may force scientists to re-evaluate their positions. The next opinion we are to look at is that marijuana should not be legalized.

Still, people seem to think that marijuana is a gateway drug because, supposedly because it “feels soo good”, that people might want to try “bigger and better things”. Many important brain functions which affect human behavior involve the neurotransmitter dopamine. Serious drugs of abuse such as heroin and cocaine, int with the brain’s use of dopamine in manners that can seriously alter an individual’s behavior. A drug’s ability to affect the neural systems related to dopamine production has now become the defining characteristic of drugs with serious abuse potential. The discovery of a previously unknown system of cannabinoid neural transmitters is profound. While century-old questions such as why marijuana is nontoxic are finally being answered, new fascinating questions are emerging. In the words of Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam, the man who first isolated the structure of THC, “Why do we have cannabinoid receptors?”

The second opinion that people have is that marijuana should not be leagalived. They have some very strong points to back this up too. An April 1994 report titled “Violent Drug-Related Crime” compiled by the Drug and Crime Data Center and Clearinghouse indicates that drugs are used by many offenders committing crimes. In 1991, the following percentages of state prison inmates involved in violent offenses reported that they had used drugs at the time the offense was committed: Violent Offenses: 28%, Homicide: 28%, Sexual Assault: 20%, Robbery: 38%, and Assault: 23%. “Legalization proponents ignore the fact that the people committing violent crimes are career criminals who will not stop their illegal activities once drugs are legalized; they will instead seek new sources of illicit revenue. The criminal activity would not be reduced as a result of drug legalization any more than gangster activity disappeared after the repeal of Prohibition. The group discussed the fallacy that legalizing drugs would eliminate the black market environment which seems to fuel the drug trade and its attendant violence.

The existence of a black market is heavily dependent on the parameters set by the legalizers: which drugs would be legal, the potency level of drugs, and the age at which legal drugs could be purchased. If drugs were legal for persons over 18, for example, drug traffickers would still target those 17 and younger; if only marijuana were legalized, drug traffickers would continue to traffic in heroin and cocaine. Some facts which help to confirm the observations of the forum participants may be used in debates: A a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (7/6/94) reports that cocaine use is linked to high rates of homicide in New York City and that “homicide victims may have provoked violence through irritability, paranoid thinking or verbal and physical aggression which are known to be pharmacologic effects of cocaine.” This is just one of the factual quotes I found during my reseach, Which proves that marijuana is not the “mainly responsible drug in the drug-related crimes.

” Even though there are also statistics which shows that it plays a great role. SOURCES:http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/dcf/duc.htm, http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/factsht/crime/index.html, http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/crm/crm022.html Data from the National Institute of Justice (U.S. Department of Justice) Drug Use Forecasting (DUF) program underscore the crime-drugs link. Of a sample of males arrested in 23 U.S. cities in 1993, the percent testing positive for at least one drug in the DUF survey ranged from 54% in Omaha to 81% in Chicago. Among female arrestees, the percent testing positive for any drug in 20 cities ranged from 42% in San Antonio to 83% in Manhattan. Now nobody can argue with that, drugs are definitely a problem which strongly influences the diverse population of the U.S.

In conclusion of this opinion, I would like you to how marijuana has affected our school. Department of Justice statistics indicates a growing number of young arrestees are marijuana smokers. Data from 12 major urban areas showed a sharp jump, from 16.5% in 1992 to 26% in 1993, in teenage arrestees who tested positive for marijuana, the Department said. And this is the modern, high-test marijuana, about three times (sometimes more) the strength of the 1960s and 1970s weed. I think through-out the history of the school, students have been caught with marijuana on school grounds. Marijuana haunts almost every school as one of the larger problems, in the U.S. public or private. The third opinion on the legalization of marijuana is that it should be legalized but limited only to medicinal use.

Marijuana as medicine has been studied for many years. In some cultures, it is already used as medicine, and it stems back from many generations. There are many good uses for marijuana to be used as medicine which I will be discussing in the following paragraphs. The problem is that in order to be used in America as medicine, marijuana must be legalized. Marijuana has a long history of medical use. It is one of the oldest living plants and, in ancient times, was used as various forms of medicine through ingestion of the plant. The first recorded use of marijuana as medicine was in China. It was reported in Pen Tsþoo Ching in the first or second century A.D. It reported that ma-fe-san(boiled hemp compound) was used as an anesthetic for surgical patients. Ma fen (the fruit of hemp) had many uses such as clearing blood and cooling temperature, relieving fluxes, undoing rheumatism and discharging pus for patients. China is not the only country to use the drug in early times. It was introduced to southeast Asia around sixteenth-century A.D.Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam are reported to have current uses of marijuana as medicine.

In Cambodia, they have an enormous list of uses, but to name a few are: to treat malaria, to relieve asthma and calm the nerves, regulate the function of the heart, and treats paralysis. In Thailand, it is used in folk medicine as well as in official medical reports. In folk medicine, the people sun dry the leaves and boil them to treat migraines and dizzy spells. It is also taken as a relaxant before bedtime. In Vietnam, it has many uses. Cannabis is used to alleviate the loss of memory, eliminate blood loss, and treat gynecological problems. As you can see, there are many different uses for marijuana as medicine. It is impossible to explore all the uses of the drug, but we will look at a few in detail now. One question is the effectiveness of THC to reduce nausea in chemotherapy patients. Because cancer is on the rise, there are more and more people using chemotherapy as treatment in America. Right now, there are many different types of chemotherapy drugs, and they all have the same side effects. Some are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, dyspepsia, heartburn, and ulceration. These are only the gastrointestinal effects.

There are hair effects, skin effects, and muscle and nerve effects to these drugs. Drugs administered to treat the side effects of nausea and vomiting are mostly ineffective. However, there are reports that state that THC, taken in a capsule or in a cigarette, does reduce nausea and vomiting. The controversy is that some patients experienced hallucinations while taking the drug. The hallucinations were experienced perhaps because too much of the drug was taken at one time. The question that is brought up is How much is an effective dose? First, the way the drug is taken varies on the individual. Some people react differently to all kinds of drugs taken orally. After deciding on how the patient should orally take the drug, the person administering the drug must keep in mind other considerations. First, the drug must be given early enough to prevent anticipatory vomiting. This is a well-known phenomenon in cancer patients. That is chemotherapy patients expect to vomit and in anticipation of it, they begin vomiting before the treatment even begins.

Another consideration of administering the drug is blood concentration level. The amount of the drug must raise the concentration of the drug in the blood to more than 10.0 ng./ml. On the other hand, it must be at a lower blood concentration level than that which will initiate severe mood alteration. Lastly, it must be given often enough to maintain the concentration level until the threat of vomiting has passed. The second question raised by critics is the age of the patient. In some studies, it was found that people over the age of 60, had such severe mood alterations that they dropped out of the study. This may have been because the amount of the drug taken was too great. Other studies have proved that taking THC with other nausea-reducing drugs proves to work with older patients. Overall, THC in marijuana is accepted by many doctors and scientists to be effective for reducing or stopping vomiting in chemotherapy patients.

Another potential medical use of marijuana is to control spasms and spasticity. Spasms and spasticity are usually caused by stroke, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. It is also caused by spinal cord damage from automobile accidents, athletic injuries, violence, and combat. Spasms affect over one million Americans. Sometimes, muscles can become permanently contracted if the spasms are chronic. As of now, there is no effective surgery or medicine to treat spasms. Neurosurgery does not eliminate spasticity. Drugs for spasms are not that effective and usually have many side effects. For these reasons marijuana should be studied more because it proving to be very effective with few or no side effects. In order to be effective, marijuana must be taken daily. It seems to be the most effective three hours after dosage, and last for five hours. However, a question is raised about taking marijuana. One is about tolerance to the drug. Some critics contend that after taken for a period of time, the person may become tolerant to the drug, and reduce effectiveness.

This is true for a lot of pain-relieving drugs. A person can not rule out marijuana on that question alone, and it has not been proven that a person will develop tolerance. These two examples are just a few. Marijuana must be studied and tested more to prove effectiveness, but it is not because it is not legal. Doctors and scientists donþt want to study a drug that they could never use. Another reason it is not studied a lot is that the potency of the plant varies so much that it is too hard to standardize a dose. Also, marijuana can not be patented since it is illegal so there is no incentive to study it. There are many uses for marijuana, and many are unexplored. Actually, some are explored in-depth because of interest, and others are left behind. There are probably many other uses that have not been found because of the lack of experimentation on the drug as a whole. If the drug is legalized, there will be much more research done on the drug, and hopefully, the drug will begin to be approved for use.

An overwhelming number of doctors AND patients lay claim to the fact marijuana acts as a pain reliever and can help to alleviate many of the symptoms associated with glaucoma, aids, cancer (chemotherapy), multiple sclerosis, chronic migraines, and numerous other diseases. It is also a proven fact that marijuana can reduce feelings of nausea and suppress vomiting. In November’s past election they passed in California and Arizona laws allowing for doctors to prescribe marijuana (in Arizona, doctors can now prescribe any drug they see fit) to patients they think will benefit from its use. As the government still can not grow marijuana for distribution the patient is required to obtain the medicine from an illicit source, paying the street rate.

If the government could grow marijuana to distribute as medicine, a one-day supply for an ill patient would cost about a dollar. Buying the pot at the street rate, patients are spending between ten and twenty dollars a day, and all of this money is funneled right back into the illegal business of smuggling and distributing marijuana on the streets. The argument of marijuana having medicinal value is the main point of attack used in the battle to legalize the drug by organizations such as NORMAL. In conclusion, I would like not to say any more about either one of the three, very well backed points of view. Looking at the facts I would like you to make an opinion of your own.

REFERENCES:

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* Shechter, Relli. Smoking, Culture, and Economy in the Middle East: The Egyptian Tobacco Market 1850-2000. New York: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2006 ISBN 1-84511-1370

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