Marijuana has been hailed as a prescription for many ills and physicians once used it to stimulate appetite, relieve chronic pain, and treat asthma and migraines. But is marijuana really a medical miracle? If so, do its clinical benefits outweigh its drawbacks? Should we legalize marijuana? Is medical marijuana really worth the risks? These are the issues one needs to think about before making the decision to legalize marijuana.
Marijuana is a drug that is derived from the dried and cut leaves of the hemp plant known as "cannabis sativa". Marijuana has a variety of street names such as "grass", "Mary Jane", "pot", "smoke", "reefer", "herb", and "weed". The active ingredient in marijuana is delta tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (3). . Marijuana has been used throughout history and in many different cultures to change mood, perception, and consciousness (to get "high"). Its effects range from increasing creativity to provoking mystical experiences, to heightening the capacity to feel, sense and share. After alcohol, it is the most popular of what are called "recreational drugs." It has been used around the world for other purposes. In some primitive tribes of South America, Africa, and India, "cannabis" is used in religious ceremonies and for medical purposes. African mine workers have used it to ease the drudgery of their work and many Jamaicans use it at the end of the day to relieve fatigue. It has been used as an intoxicant in various parts of the world for centuries and in the United States, for the most part the 20th century. Marijuana was first described in print in a Chinese book of
medicine, "Herbal," in the 2nd century B.C., and was used in China as an anesthetic 5,000 years ago. The ancient Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and East Indians used the drug to control muscle spasms, reduce pain, and to treat indigestion. It was commonly used in folk medicines in Africa and Asia. As early as 1611, marijuana was cultivated for its...