In the late 1970 s, Susan Nelson watched her husband, Don, vomit constantly. Don was undergoing chemotherapy to treat his testicular cancer. The body rejects the drugs used in chemotherapy by means of vomiting. The constant vomiting caused Don further tissue damage than he already had. In 1989, Susan discovered she had lymphoma. Susan also went under chemotherapy, but during her whole treatment she only vomited once. Why do you think this is? She took matters into her own hands: she fired up a joint (Cowley, 22). Thousands of people could benefit from the medical use of Marijuana. The government should support research on marijuana so that it maybe legalized for medical purposes. Marijuana is not legal for medical or personal use in the U.S. It is the biggest debated issue of drug legalization today. Marijuana is a natural drug that is a product of the hemp plant. The leaves and flowering top of this plant are usually dried and then smoked or eaten. It causes a state of relaxation and does not produce hyperactivity or impair vision like other drugs, such as, cocaine or methanfedamines. Marijuana as opposed to cocaine and methanfedamines is not addictive. Cocaine and methanfedamines are however legal for specific medical uses. When marijuana is mentioned in emergency room episodes, it is only in conjunction with other drugs. This is because marijuana can not induce overdoses like other, more harmful drugs. Harvard psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon describes several possible benefits of marijuana which include, easing nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, improving appetite of people with AIDS and lowering pressure inside the eye for those who suffer from glaucoma (qt. In Rodgers 60). J. Bainard states that a chemical in the cannabis plant could prevent strokes and heart attacks (20). Despite these claims the U.S. government will not legalize marijuana for medical use. In fact in November of 1997 voters in California and Arizona gave doctors the right to prescribe patients marijuana, but in January 1997 the government stepped in and simply said no, (Rogers 60). In the 1970 s and 80 s studies began to confirm the many positive effects marijuana had on patients. States were developing Investigational New Drug programs that helped patients who suffered from chronic illnesses acquire marijuana. Irvin Rosenfield was a patient who was involved in these new drug programs. Rosenfield is one of eight people in the U.S. who can legally smoke marijuana because of these early research programs. These programs fell victim to the war on drugs, which was implemented by the government in the 1990 s. Rosenfield, who is thirty-three, contracted a rare cancer at the age of ten. His muscles and blood vessels stretch over tumors on the ends of his arms and legs. To relieve his pain he smokes ten to fifteen marijuana cigarettes a day, and still holds his job as a stockbroker. Quite frankly, he says, this is the best medicine I ve ever smoked (qt. In Rogers 60). Rodgers also reports that in a 1991 study of oncologists, 48% said they would prescribe marijuana if they could and 44% said they had recommended it to patient s (60). So why doesn t the government legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes? Both the American Medical Association and the government claim that there is no scientific evidence for the medical use of marijuana, when in fact, these two organizations have not done the research necessary to make these claims. How can the government or any organization make a claim without the evidence to back it up? Some AIDS patients have AIDS wasting syndrome, a mysterious and often fatal effect of HIV that causes drastic weight loss. Most patients can not keep their food down. AZT is a highly toxic drug that aids patients take, you must take this on a full stomach. The only way a number of patients can complete this process is to smoke marijuana, which keeps them from throwing up. Then they can eat, have a full stomach and take their AZT. An estimated 350 terminally ill people are serving terms for buying or growing marijuana. Six thousand or more are arrested each year ( Marshall 159). Ninety human studies indicate that marijuana relieves many of the symptoms that accompany AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and chemotherapy. There are also numerous amounts of evidence that marijuana provides relief from migraine, PMS and anorexia. Unfortunately most of the studies have not met strict FDA guidelines and the FDA has not approved any further research ( Marshall 160). There are several other types of drugs that are being used and distributed illegally in the U.S. Some of the more popular drugs are: cocaine, heroine, and PCP. Califano Jr. reports that there are 6,000,000 hard core addicts in America. While this number proves that drugs are a serious problem, compare that to the following: 18,000,000 adults are alcoholics or alcohol abusers. 60% of convicted homicide offenders drank just before they committed their crime. Between thirty and ninety percent of convicted rapists were intoxicated at the time they committed their offence ( Califano Jr. 47). The government needs to restrict the availability of alcohol just as strongly as they do illegal drugs. Certainly some drugs are by no means qualified for use by the general public. Cocaine was responsible for 30% of ER related episodes in 1996 ( Annual Trends in Cocaine ). Heroin was responsible for 14% of ER related episodes ( Annual Trends in Heroin ). These drugs are highly addictive. In 1996 63% of cocaine related episodes were dependency related. So, it s easy to see why these drugs are illegal. However cocaine and methanfedamines are legal for medicinal purposes. Why isn t marijuana, a much less harmful drug legal for medical use? The United States government says that marijuana is a dangerous drug. There is no evidence to support this statement. Marijuana is a non-addictive drug and is not capable of inducing overdose. Probably the most dangerous effect of marijuana is the damage to the lungs. Most people would choose lung damage over not being able to use marijuana for medical treatment. Millions of people every day choose lung damage just to smoke a cigarette. Alcohol is a more dangerous drug than marijuana, has no medical use and is responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Yet this drug is legal. Cocaine is highly addictive and has a high overdose rate, but it is legal for medical use. The more people speak up, the more the government is going to have to come up with better answers. Instead of spending taxpayers money on fighting drugs. The government should spend it on research that could help thousands of suffering medical patients.
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