What is marijuana?

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What is marijuana? According to Harvard Medical Professor LesterGrinspoon, it is a “miracle drug”, one that prevents blindness, acts as anappetite stimulant for AIDS patients, and prevents muscle spasms in epileptics.

When speaking of the same plant, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics forover thirty years, Harry J. Anslinger said that this “evil weed” led to killings,sex crimes and insanity. How can two such highly respected experts have suchnight and day outlooks on the same thing? While Anslinger presided as America’sleading anti-drug official his McCarthyish hunt down of Marijuana users led tothe downfall of many well respected Americans. During the 1900’s the UnitedStated has committed itself to and unprecedented war on marijuana that is costly,unjustified and impossible to win.

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The topic of Marijuana is quite broad. It encompasses history,legislation, and the benefits as well as the harms of the plant itself.

Marijuana is the name of the plant known to botanists as Cannabis Sativa.

Other names for the plant exist throughout the world. In Africa, Marijuana isknown as “dagga”, in China as “ma”, in Northern Europe as “hemp” and in theUnited States as either “pot”, “buds”, “reefer”, “weed” or the more direct,”smoke”. Marijuana goes back over five thousand years. It is one of the oldestagricultural commodities not grown for food. Hemp, first cultivated in China asearly as 2800 B.C., soon stretched to central Asia where it spread like milkweedor thistle. Marijuana soon began to crowd out neighboring grasses and reachingheights of three to twenty feet stretched over large plains. Local people beganto use the plant for its strong, durable fibers which they used for rope and toconstruct material similar to linen. Early in the Christian Era, Marijuanareached the Mediterranean countries of Europe. Its cultivation spread throughthe rest of Europe during the Middle ages. Hemp’s progression to Africa caneasily be marked through the Middle East where it remains a major cash crop. Itis unknown how the plant found its way to the America’s. One of the mostpopular theories is that European explorers brought the seeds along with them.

The cultivation of Marijuana has been successful in almost every climate. It isthe unbounded growth of Marijuana that will later lead to its difficulty inlegislation. The Hemp plant has dozens of uses. It can be made into canvas,paper, rope, twine, cable, yarn artificial sponges and clothing. The seed ofthe plant can be made into Hempseed oil, paints, soaps, carnishes and birdseed.

For all of its usefulness it is the Hemp plant’s leaves for which it has beencondemned. It is this part of the plant that yields the sticky yellow resin,rich with cannabinoids. This resin contains more that sixty compounds unique toMarijuana. The most prominent is delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol. This substanceotherwise known as delta-9-THC which causes Marijuana’s psychoactive effects.

“The effects of Marijuana”, according to Leo Hollister, former president of theAmerican College of Neuropsychopharmacology and current professor at theUniversity of Texas “poses no greater risk that moderate consumption ofAlcohol.” Harvard Professor Lester Grinspoon in his book, Marihuana, theForbidden Medicine, claims that the drug has countless benefits, among whichare: relief of nausea associated with chemotherapy, preventing blindness inducedby glaucoma, serving as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients, warding offasthma attacks and migraine headaches, relieving chronic pain and deduction ofthe muscle spasticity that accompanies multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, andparaplegia, the list continues. Through the 1900’s, specifically the 1970’s, anumber of studies were done on Pot which claimed that it kills brain cells,damages chromosomes, caused impotence in men and prompts men to grow breasts.

These conclusions, as stated by Eric Schlosser a writer for The Atlantic Monthlyand authority on Marijuana, “…were based on faulty research.” However, thereare real consequences to smoking Reefer. One of these consequences is apsychological dependence in some users. The compound delta-9-THC has a half-life of five days. This means an occasional user can fail a drug test threedays after smoking, a heavy user can fail for over a month. There have been noimmunosuppressive of reproductive effects linked to delta-9-THC. Some studieshave shown short-term memory deficiency, although reversible, in heavy smokers.

The biggest health concern with Pot smoke is its damage to the respiratorysystem. The risks run parallel with tobacco smoking.

Category: Social Issues

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What is marijuana?. (2019, Mar 16). Retrieved from


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