Assessing the Benefits of Marijuana Essay

Total Length: 2223 words ( 7 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 13

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The drug, marijuana, is actually not as lethal to human beings as cigarettes or alcohol. Further, it is much less addictive, being generally consumed in far lesser quantities. It is also not strongly linked to accidents, risky sexual conduct, and violence, the way alcohol is. Lastly, one can never lose one’s life to marijuana overdose. While a small share of individuals who consume marijuana do develop addiction, this issue can be easily treated. Marijuana in the form of a medicine proves effective in dealing with various acute symptoms such as wasting diseases, nausea and vomiting. Marijuana is very commonly used in America (DPA). The marijuana on sale and used across the nation varies greatly in its quality, besides displaying the likelihood of containing high potentially-lethal adulterant or pesticide levels. DPA (Drug Policy Alliance) supports regulatory framework implementation for controlling potency, educating consumers using labels, and safeguarding against toxic pesticides or additives. Appropriate regulation may control the product at all stages, right from the sowing and cultivation stages to preparation, packaging and distribution, thereby protecting consumers and ensuring reduced accessibility to minor children. Marijuana prohibition fails to offer the aforementioned protections (DPA).

A total of 14 states have implemented regulations that permit marijuana’s utilization as a medicine for treating diseases such as cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis. While studies focusing on the likely medicinal applications of marijuana have been prohibited in the nation, international scientific studies have proven successful in identifying an increasing number of advantages of the substance (DPA). Organizations like the American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, National Association of People with AIDS, AIDS Action Council, American Academy of HIV Medicine, and Lymphoma Foundation of America have supported medical marijuana access. Moreover, the American Medical Association, in the year 2009, adopted its resolution demanding governmental reconsideration of its marijuana classification, for facilitating the performance of additional studies on marijuana’s medicinal applications (DPA).

Thesis Statement

The plant, marijuana, has been considered damaging and even potentially fatal to human beings; however, on the basis of its medicinal advantages and economic value, the cannabis displays several positives which outweigh its negative points.


Government’s response to the proliferation of Mexican marijuana in the U.S. How does Pollan argue that the government’s crackdown on marijuana actually backfired?

In Chapter Three of The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan states that “most of the marijuana smoked in America was grown in Mexico until the mid-1970s, when the Mexican government, at the behest of the US government began cracking down on pot smugglers. Soon after, the growers moved their operations indoors and continued to cultivate the plant. By embarking on the War on Drugs, the government only strengthened cannabis, a plant whose intoxicating qualities are so desirable that almost 15 million Americans risk arrest each month by smoking it” (Pollan, p.130). “America jailed more of their citizens than any other country in history, and every three of those were in prison because of their involvement with drugs, nearly fifty thousand of them solely for crimes involving marijuana.
In the last years of the 20th century, a series of Supreme Court cases and government actions specifically involving marijuana led to a substantial increase in the power of the government at the expense of the Bill of Rights. As a result of the war against cannabis, Americans are demonstrably less free today” (Pollan, p.126). The federal government maintains that marijuana must be subject to the very same thorough scientific examination and clinical trials applied by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to every other novel medication. This inclusive process aims at ensuring highest efficiency and safety standards (FOCUS).

The American government’s marijuana ban had the unintentional effect of ensuring considerable quantities of cannabis were secretly grown indoors, where they could be cultivated under controlled conditions. Further, growers could steadily increase THC levels, which is the psychoactive ingredient in the plant. Owing to indoor growers' fervent attention to all needs of the plant, the author Pollan considers these illegal cannabis growers "the best gardeners of my generation." Latin American drug policies derived from those implemented in the US haven’t succeeded at reducing illegal drug supply. Rather, they have resulted in a bloodbath that has claimed over 60,000 lives since the year 2006 in the state of Mexico alone (Newman). Several European nations have adopted “safe injection facilities”, medical heroin prescriptions for reducing overdose and HIV/AIDS related deaths, and other public health approaches. Republican as well as Democratic states are lowering inmate numbers through providing others options besides incarceration for minor drug-related offenses (Newman).


Molecular structure of the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. How did we discover the molecular structure of this agent? What are the effects on the brain, and how might cannabinoids actually benefit scientific understanding of the human brain?

Dronabinol or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a sweet-smelling terpenoid, is the key psychoactive constituent in cannabis. In 1964, Raphael Mechoulam, Habib Edery and Yechiel Gaoni isolated it at the Israeli Weizmann Institute. Pure THC is solid and glassy in nature when cold. When warmed, it becomes thick and sticky. It exhibits extremely low water solubility, though dissolves well in butane, hexane and a majority of other organic solvents. As with caffeine and nicotine, THC’s function in cannabis is, apparently, safeguarding it from pathogens and herbivores (Johansson, Halldin, Agurell, Hollister, & Gillespie). Furthermore, THC possesses superior UV-B (280-315 nm) absorption properties, which also safeguards the plant against harm.

In the year 1988, William Devane and Allyn Howlett used radioimmunoassay methods for characterizing cannabinoid receptor existence within rats’ brains (Herkenham, Lynn, et al). Two years later, Miles Herkenham et al. mapped cannabinoid receptor locations within humans and numerous other mammalian species. Receptors were found….....

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DPA. Marijuana and Health. New York: Drug Policy Alliance, n.d.

FOCUS. U.S. Government Position on Cannabis/Marijuana. 2017. 13 June 2018.

Herkenham, M. "Cannabinoid Receptor Localization in Brain: Relationship to Motor and Reward Systems," P.W. Kalivas and H.H. Samson (eds.), The Neurobiology of Drug and Alcohol Addiction, Annals of the American Academy of Sciences. 654:19-32, 1992. pg. 19.

Herkenham, M., Lynn, A.B., et al. "Cannabinoid Receptor Localization in Brain," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 87:1932-1936, 1990.

Johansson E, Halldin MM, Agurell S, Hollister LE, Gillespie HK. "Terminal elimination plasma half-life of delta 1-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 1-THC) in heavy users of marijuana.". European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 37 (3): 273-7. PMID 2558889. 1989.

Lichtman, A.H., Martin, B.R. Spinal and Supraspinal Components of Cannabinoid-Induced Antinociception. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 258:517-523. 1991.

Martin, B.R. "Cellular Effects of Cannabinoids." Pharmacological Reviews 38:45-74. pg. 46. 1986.

Matsuda, L., Lolait, S., et al. Structure of a cannabinoid receptor and functional expression of the cloned cDNA. Nature 346:561-564. 1990.

Newman, Tony. Connecting the Dots: 10 Disastrous Consequences of the Drug War. 01 February 2013. 13 June 2018.

Pollan, Michael. The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-eye View of the World. London: Bloomsbury, 2003.

Sznitman, Sharon and Anne Line Bretteville-Jensen. "Public opinion and medical cannabis policies: examining the role of underlying beliefs and national medical cannabis policies." Harm Reduct J. (2015).

Tart, Charles T. "Scientific foundations for the study of Altered States of Consciousness." ATPWeb (1971).

Thomas, B., Compton, D., Martin, N. Characterization of the Lipophilicity of Natural and Synthetic Analogs of D9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Its Relationships to Pharmacological Potency. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics . 255:2 pg. 624 - 630. 1990.

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