The problem is that the long-standing and unjust prohibition of the psychoactivedrug marijuana has been lifted by voters in Arizona and California. Under thenew law, doctors can prescribe marijuana to those patients who can possiblybenefit from the drug’s medicinal purposes. Used for alleviating pain andsuffering, the drug can provide needed relief for many people. However, to theconcerned, it appears that with the new propositions government has grantedpermission to posses and consume a drug that has been banned for decades. The “smoke” has yet to settle in Washington, but a reaction to the new laws from thefederal government seems unlikely. Optimistic supporters hope that similarpolicies and propositions will soon come to voters in other states.
The debate over the legalization of Cannabis Sativa, more commonly knownas marijuana, is currently one of the more heated controversies in the countrytoday. The drug has been unrightfully prohibited since the 1930’s for itsdangerous effects. However, earlier and more primitive cultures were able tosafely explore marijuana’s usage for both medicinal and hallucinogenicproperties. The usage of marijuana has existed for thousands of years in manycountries world wide and can be documented as far back as 2700 BC in ancientChinese writings. In the earlier cultures, marijuana usage was accepted and itseffects documented. However, the United States government overlooked all of theinformation and banned the drug. Recently, however, there has been a resurgencein the opinion of the drug’s positive medicinal purposes.
Studies on the medicinal uses of marijuana have been conducted on manypatients that suffer from various health problems. In patients with the AIDS,the drug served as a beneficial way to stimulate appetite. Thousands of AIDSpatients already use marijuana illegally for this condition and have reportedexcellent results. For those AIDS victims, marijuana can reduce the nausea,vomiting, and loss of appetite that are common to the syndrome. Another medicalfunction for marijuana is to combat glaucoma, the leading cause of blindness inthe United States. Glaucoma is an eye disease that results from pressure thatbuilds up over time and causes great pain and vision loss to sufferers. In theglaucoma patients, marijuana can aid in relieving the intraocular pressure onthe eyeball, and thereby alleviate the pain and sometimes stopping the progressof the condition. Multiple sclerosis is another incurable condition that couldbenefit from the legalization of marijuana. The disease disrupts the normalfunctioning of the nerves in the brain and the spinal cord. The common agonizingsymptoms include tingling, numbness, impaired weakness, difficulty in speaking,painful muscle spasms, loss of coordination and balance, fatigue, weakness orparalysis, loss of bladder control, urinary tract infections, constipation, skinulcers, and severe depression. Cannabis , because of its relaxing qualities hasa startling and profound effect on the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. For thesufferers it stops muscle spasms, reduces tremors, restores balance, restoresbladder control, and restores speech and eyesight. Many wheelchair-bound MSpatients report that after smoking marijuana they can walk.
Those who oppose the medical usage of marijuana argue that the AmericanHealth Association neither accepts nor believes that marijuana serves anypurpose in medicine. Doctors claim that there is a great risk that results fromsmoking the drug. Inhaling any burning substance is harmful to the lungs andcould eventually produce detrimental effects including cancer. Despitecannabis’ known adverse effects to lung function, it has never been reported tocause a single instance of lung cancer. On the other hand, tobacco, a legal andreadily accessible poison, is expected to kill 400,000 people this year. Asolution to the doctors’ concerns would be to consume marijuana throughalternative methods of ingestion that cause diminished effects on bodily health;smoking the drug with a different apparatus or ingesting it without smokingcould greatly decrease the harmful effects to the human body.
Currently, according to the current laws of the United States government,possessing, selling, or using marijuana is illegal. The federal government isproud of its tough policy on illegal drugs. As citizens, we are all thankfulto live in an environment protected from the unregulated drug market and crimethat would likely from an unrestricted drug trade. But the opportunities thatare missed and the pain and suffering endured from the prohibition of marijuana,are oppression not protection. Our country was founded on a policy of democracy,where people decide what is best for government. The decision of marijuanalegalization should be given to the voters just as in Arizona and California.
For too long there has been a ban on marijuana, and it is time for the public tojoin together and force a change. Someday soon perhaps voters and officialswill be able to sit together and join in the tradition of passing the peace pipe.