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Abdullah Bukhamsin

Bonnie Quinn

ENG 107

November 19, 2010

                                       Legalizing Marijuana

          Grass, herb, hashish, dope or whatever name it is called, marijuana is the world's most

consumed illegal drug (Basic facts about drugs: Marijuana). A lot of people underestimate

how dangerous marijuana is. Marijuana has many long-term effects and causes medical

issues. The drug is illegal in the United States and there are many parties demanding it to be

legalized. Marijuana should not be legalized in the United States due to its risks and long-

term effects.

          Marijuana is a substance used as a psychoactive drug and is prepared from the

cannabis plant. Marijuana is in general the dried natural herb of the cannabis plant. There are

a lot of forms for marijuana. Besides the natural form, every other form differs in the

concentration of the intoxicant ingredient delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana is

consumed by many ways, smoking, chewing, or even being brewed as a tea (Marijuana fast

facts).

          Marijuana is the most spread illicit drug in the world. Statistics estimated that in 2008

between 129 and 191 people aged 15 to 64 around the world had used marijuana at least once.

In the United States, 12.5 of the population had tried marijuana at least one within the same

age group (World Drug Report 2010 194). That means nearly four million people out of 300

million in the United States had tried marijuana before. The data also shows that 75.7% of

drug users around the United states use marijuana. As for marijuana itself, more than 3,000

million kilograms of marijuana was produced in 2008. Although more than eight million
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indoor and outdoor plants were eradicated, the production of marijuana is progressing (World

Drug Report 2010 184).

       Marijuana has many effects, some are short-term effects and others are long-term.

There are cardiovascular system, somatic, neurological effects and forgetting problems –

those are some of the short-term effects. Marijuana also affects the human body in the long

term. Long-term effects include potential infection of chronic pulmonary disorder, leading to

lung cancer, and high risk for developing schizophrenia.

       Marijuana can affect negatively the cardiovascular system in the body. Smoking

marijuana increases the heart rate by 20% to 100%. This happens since a person starts

smoking marijuana and could last for 2 or 3 hours. This happens because of a disturbance in

the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system is disturbed because smoking

marijuana while sitting or lying down causes the blood pressure to increase gradually. On the

other hand, smoking it while standing causes it to decrease. In addition, after smoking

marijuana heavily while sitting down, standing up suddenly causes intense headache or

fainting in some cases. This also increases the probability of falling down and being injured

(Jones 59).

       Using Marijuana has a direct risk on the body. Marijuana dries the throat and the

mouth,. It also redden the eyes as a result of blood congestion around the eyes. Alongside

with reddening the eyes, the pressure of marijuana user's eyeballs is dropped. Marijuana users

feel cooler hotter than usual on their feet or hands. Marijuana also causes sluggishness on

body. This happens as a result of muscle relaxation on the body because of the THC

(Moelker).

       There is a kind of cells in the body called cannabinoid receptor, which ,when

activated, can affect the brain and the nervous system. Cannabinoid receptor is activated by

the cannabis plant or the THC. Cannabinoid receptors are located in many areas in the brain.
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When cannabinoid receptors are mixed with the THC they hurt the cerebellum which helps

the body to coordinate, the amygdale, which is responsible for emotions and emotional

responses, the spinal cord which gives signal between the brain and the body, the

hippocampus which is responsible for stress control and memory, the brain stem which

controls sleep and movement and many other areas in the brain. Among those areas, the last

two, the hippocampus and the brain stem, are the most affected areas by cannabis. Marijuana

users usually forget things easily and can't perform tasks that require a lot of attention

(Pertwee 164).

       Another serious short-term issue that is caused by marijuana is problems with the

memory. In an experiment done on 5 people to see how the memory functions after smoking

marijuana, it was implied that marijuana alters memory performance noticeably. The 5

subjects, after smoking different doses of marijuana, had completed a delayed match-to-

sample task. The experiment showed that the short-term memory of the subjects are weaker

than normal and because of the THC amount in the body (Cherek, Lane, Lieving &

Tcheremissine).

       As for problems in the long term, marijuana could be a reason for getting lung cancer.

Until now, it is not very clear that marijuana has direct link to lung cancer. A lot of studies

have proven that tobacco in cigarettes damages some cells in the lungs that can lead to lung

cancer. But there are not known cases of people getting cancer because of smoking marijuana.

However, scientists at the University of Leicester have found that a chemical called

acetaldehyde us the cause of the damage in the lung's cells. This chemical can be found in

tobacco and also in cannabis. After many experiments, they implied that smoking marijuana

is more harmful than cigarettes – 4 cigarettes of marijuana may be as harmful as 20 cigarettes

of tobacco (Stacy).
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       The use of drugs, including marijuana, has been linked with the probability of

developing schizophrenia. Scientists, mainly from the UK, Australia, and Sweden, has

reached to this explanation after more than 30 studies in the past 20 years. Their statistics

show that around 10% of people with schizophrenia got this mental disorder because of

marijuana. People under 21 are the most who get schizophrenia from marijuana because their

brains are still developing in that level and are flexible to changes. Especially, people around

the age of 15 are three times, which is 300%, more likely to have schizophrenia. Other

scientists had confirmed their claim and they acknowledged that it could be 700% for heavy

consumers. More data shows that 4.5 times more likely that a person would have

schizophrenia at the age of 26 if they start smoking at the age of 15. Whereas, only 1.65 times

for people who starts smoking marijuana at the age of 18. Even five uses of marijuana of a

teenager life could lead to significant increase of getting a mental (Marijuana / Cannabis and

Schizophrenia).

       On the other hand, some group of people are demanding to legalize marijuana. They

support themselves saying marijuana has many medical benefits and it should be legalize for

that reason. Dr Peter J. Cohen describes why marijuana should be legal and he mentions its

how it could be useful as medical product:

               Why should FDA approval have been sought? Why should “medical

               marijuana” have been classified as a drug rather than a botanical, an herbal

               medication, or a folk remedy? The answer is in the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic

               Act itself: “The term „drug‟ means articles intended for use in the diagnosis,

               cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man . . . and articles

               (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of

               man.”8 That smoked marijuana is both a “controlled substance” and a plant

               product is extraneous to this discussion. Controlled substances have
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               widespread use in legitimate medical practice. As an anesthesiologist, I have

               legally administered more narcotics (in the course of providing medical care)

               than many low-level illegal drug dealers. Plants and their derivatives can be

               potent medications. During my internship, I used digitalis leaf (derived from

               the foxglove plant) to treat congestive heart failure. Botanicals are the active

               ingredients in tincture of opium9 and belladonna suppositories,10 both of

               which are legal and FDA approved when employed for legitimate therapeutic

               use. Smoked marijuana could achieve the same status were the FDA to find it

               safe and effective for medical use. (Cohen 20)

       However, marijuana can be used medically if prescribed by doctor in 14 states. People

who have medical issues that need cannabis as a cure can get a state-issued card that permits

them to use marijuana (Harrison).. If marijuana goes legal, much more people will have the

opportunity to try it. Also, the possession of marijuana will be easier for under-aged kids. To

top it all off, the consumption of marijuana will be higher and people will smoke more

quantities of marijuana. Thus, more people will be exposed to the risks of cannabis and its

derivatives.

       To conclude this, marijuana should not be legalize in the United States because of its

many short and long-term effects on the human body. People do not realize how dangerous

consuming marijuana is. It was scientifically proven that marijuana has many risks. Some

risks affect the brain, the heart, and even the body itself. Other effects can lead to serious

diseases like cancer and are the main causes for mental illnesses like schizophrenia. In the

contrary, many people want marijuana to be legalize. They reason that because marijuana can

sometimes be used to cure some diseases. However, some states allow people to use

marijuana for their medical issues. Marijuana should never be legalize and people should not

use it for their own benefit.
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                                           Works Cited

Basic facts about drugs: Marijuana. American Council for Drug Education's. 1999. Web.

       November 18, 2010. < http://www.acde.org/common/Marijana.htm>.

Cherek, Don R., Lane, Scott D., Lieving, Lori M. and Tcheremissine, Oleg V. "Marijuana

       Effects On Human Forgetting Functions." Journal of the Experimental Analysis of

       Behavior 83.1 (2005): 67-83. ASU Libraries. Web. November 18, 2010.

Cohen, Peter J. " Medical Marijuana, Compassionate Use, and Public Policy: Expert Opinion

       or Vox Populi?" Hastings Center Report 36.3 (2006): 19-22. Web. November 18,

       2010.

Harrison, David. "The buying and selling of legal marijuana." September 9, 2010. Web.

       November 18, 2010. < http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=511628>.

Jones, Reese T. "Cardiovascular System Effects of Marijuana." The Journal of Clinical

       Pharmacology 42.11 (2001): 58-63. Web. November 18, 2010.

Marijuana / Cannabis and Schizophrenia. Web. November 18, 2010.

       <http://www.schizophrenia.com/prevention/streetdrugs.html>.

Marijuana fast facts. National Drug Intelligence Center. March, 2003. Web. November 18,

       2010. < http://www.justice.gov/ndic/pubs3/3593/index.htm>.

Moelker, Wendy. "How does marijuana affect your body? What are the marijuana physical

       effects?" July. 22, 2008. Web. November 18, 2010.

       <http://web4health.info/en/answers/add-cannabis-physical.htm>.

Pertwee, Roger G. "Pharmacology of cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors." Pharmacology

       & Therapeutics 74.2 (1997): 129-180. Web. November 18, 2010.

Stacy, Kelli M. "Marijuana smoke linked to cancer." June 23, 2009. Web. November 18,

       2010. < http://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20090623/marijuana-smoke-linked-to-

       cancer>.
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World Drug Report 2010. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. New York: United

      Nations, 2010. Web. November 18, 2010.

      <http://www.unodc.org/documents/wdr/WDR_2010/World_Drug_Report_2010_lo-

      res.pdf>.

				
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