Use of Marijuana As Medicine

If your every waking moment was consumed by pain and nausea, wouldn\'t
you ask for medication? What if the only medication legally available would
leave you unconscious or do nothing at all? If you were the one suffering, would
you resort to the only treatment that allowed you to live normally even though
it was illegal? Thousands of people across the country are forced to break the
law to ease their pain. They have chosen marijuana over anything legally
available because it has various medicinal properties that cannot be found
anywhere else. Due to these many unique medicinal uses, marijuana should be
reclassified as a valid, legal form of treatment.
Marijuana has many unique uses as a form of treatment. It has been used
effectively to combat the nausea caused by chemotherapy, to reduce the internal
pressure of the eyes of glaucoma patients, and to prevent the “wasting syndrome”
in AIDS and cancer patients (“Marijuana for the Sick” A10). As an alternative to
using actual marijuana, modern science has developed a synthetic form of THC,
the active chemical in marijuana. However, this synthetic drug, called Marinol,
is useless for most everyday treatment because it has the unpleasant side effect
of being a powerful sedative. A member of Milwaukee\'s AIDS community, said that
a friend of his was taking Marinol to increase his appetite: “He spends the
whole day laughing and watching movies...He can\'t even drive a car because he\'s
so out of it.” (3/25/97) In addition to that, Marinol only comes in pill form,
which makes it useless for patients taking it for nausea. Marijuana has neither
of those drawbacks. Because it is usually smoked, even the most nauseous patient
can use it as well as easily regulate their intake (“Medical Marijuana” 23). No
prescription drug offers the benefits and potential of marijuana.
Many people have testified to marijuana\'s validity as a unique form of
treatment. One of these, Robert Randall, one of only eight patients supplied
with marijuana by the federal government, was diagnosed with acute glaucoma and
told that he would be blinded within five years (Brazaitis 1C). Randall “
discovered by accident that smoking marijuana” relieved the internal pressure of
his eyes (1C). After more than twenty years of smoking marijuana, Randall still
has his vision, defying the predictions of his doctors (2C). Richard Brookhiser,
a senior editor of the conservative National Review who has admitted to using
marijuana to treat the nausea caused by chemotherapy, claims that “if that
moment comes to you, you will turn to marijuana.” (Brookhiser 28) Rita Zweig
further illustrates marijuana\'s effectiveness: “If anything that is prescribed
worked as well for me,” she said, “I wouldn\'t use marijuana.” (Snider A1) These
three people represent thousands of sufferers across the country who use
marijuana as a form of treatment.
Marijuana as a form of treatment has gained support from the medical
community. Such prestigious medical publications as the New England Medical
Journal have come out in support of medicinal uses for marijuana (Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel 1/30/97 3A). In addition to that, a Harvard study showed that
nearly 44% of doctors who treat cancer patients in the American Medical
Association, a group officially opposed to marijuana, have actually recommended
marijuana to ease the pain of their patients (“Medical Marijuana” 22). Even
with this support, the federal government has refused any sort of clinical
testing or reclassifying.
Because of its medicinal value and the lack of an effective substitute,
marijuana should be reclassified as a Schedule II drug instead of a Schedule I
drug, which would allow it for certain medical uses. Other illegal drugs such as
cocaine and heroin are classified as Schedule II, even though they are
considered habit forming and dangerous, where marijuana, classified as a
Schedule I, has never caused a death or overdose and is not considered addictive.
The federal government refuses to reclassify marijuana because there “is no
proof that smoked marijuana is the most effective available treatment for
anything.” (McCaffrey 27) There can be no proof until marijuana has been tested
in a series of clinical trials. There can be no clinical testing of marijuana
because the federal government will not allow them (Conant 26). Anyone who has
read the book Catch-22 will find this situation familiar.
The government opponents of medicinal marijuana are against it for
political rather than practical reasons. Clinton, who suffered in the polls
after he admitted to smoking pot, has taken a strong anti-drug stance to follow
in the popular vein of Reagan and Bush\'s “war on drugs.” Congress has taken a
strong anti-drug stance, which could be viewed as another