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Over the years there has been much debate over whether illegal drugs for example marijuana, which has been proven to have some medicinal value especially to patients who are suffering from cancer and AIDS because it helps in relieving nausea and also appetite stimulation should be legalized. This paper seeks to discuss why marijuana should be legalized for its use in the field of medicine.
Why Marijuana Remains Illegal
There are a number of reasons why marijuana has remained an illegal substance in America. It is a political issue that is being kicked around by self serving groups who see marijuana as a substance that will lead to the tearing of families, a threat to the national fabric and as an agent that will cause people to abandon their traditional values. These allegations are however exaggerated but they are not legitimate areas of legislation. Some groups such as law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and the penal system have quite practical reasons for keeping the substance illegal. They see the legalization of this substance as a threat to their jobs. Scientists whose research on marijuana is funded by the government are also an interest group that stand to loose millions of dollars in grants should marijuana become legalized. Pharmaceutical Companies and the Liquor lobby fear that the legalization of marijuana will result in a deep cut into their profits because it is a competing product that can be produced with relative ease as long as one has access to a plot of land (Rosenthal,E. Kubby,S. & Newhart,S. page ix-xii).
In 1999, The Institute of Medicine issued a report, "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base". This was after it had been asked by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to review scientific evidence about marijuana following the legalization of medical marijuana by voters in California in 1996. The report concluded, "Until a non-smoked, rapid onset cannabinoid drug delivery system becomes available, we acknowledge that there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana such as pain or AIDS wasting. O'Mathhuna says that, "One possible approach is that of 'n-of-1' clinical trials" (page 393). The n-of-1 approach means that every patient acts as his own control and is under observation while he is given different test substances. In 2004, there were clinical trials with a sublingual spray that contained a liquid extract of marijuana; the spray administered a measured amount of cannabinoid under the tongue. All the eight patients who used this drug had pain as a result of failed spinal surgery all reported that it helped in pain relief. Though it had some negative effects, its efficiency in pain relief was viewed as being greater than the side effects (O'Mathhuna,D. 391-393).
In November 2007, The National Institutes of Health, the Maryland based government agency in an official statement declared that marijuana may have "promising" medicinal value in the treatment symptoms of epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis AIDS and cancer. It also called for government funding to explore the potential use of marijuana in the field of medicine. The Policy making committee of The American Medical Association recommended that doctors openly discuss the use of medicinal marijuana with their patients and that the efficacy of smoked marijuana be subject of study. It is the view of many people including those in the medical field that the government should fund studies into the medicinal value of marijuana (Vegetarian Times).
Scientific evidence of marijuana's efficacy in treating a number of diseases is increasing day after day. Professional organizations have also made their contribution in advocating for more research on the potential benefits of medical marijuana that may be overlooked as long as marijuana remains a banned substance. It is quite important to note that marijuana has a long history of medicinal use as it has been mentioned in ancient records of India and China. All efforts should be put to legalize medicinal marijuana as this will lead to a reduction in the cost of healthcare especially the patients suffering from diseases such as cancer and AIDS.