Medical Marijuana: Why It Needs Be Legal NationwideFor many years it has been said that “marijuana” is the devil’s lettuce and a gateway drug. It is time to wake up and see what big pharmaceutical companies and the government have been hiding for many years. Cannabis is a natural substance that has now been researched, tested, and proven to have numerous amounts of medical benefits; producing molecules such as Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, and cannabidiol, also known as CBD. Both of these have been found to have the best cure for diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and different types of cancers. Marijuana is a medical break through that must be researched further than it already is, legalizing it nationwide will help a great amount of people. Cannabis has been used for medical purpose as far back as China 2900 BC; it was a popular medicine in the Chinese civilization. From here on marijuana was used for medical reasons, and the hemp that it grew was used for things such as rope and clothing. When making its way to the New World, Cannabis was an essential and everyday crop for the growing towns; by the late 1800s it was added to the US Pharmacopeia. In 1911 Massachusetts ruined it all for everyone, they were the first state to prohibit cannabis. What was their reason? They really did not have one; because there were a high amount of prohibitionist in America during this time and banned everything they could, liquor, gambling, prostitution, oral sex, and cannabis. Since then, other states began to follow and by the late 1930s people are terrified of “marihuana,” by 1942 it is removed from the US Pharmacopeia and it becomes a drug that has no medical use. The War on Drugs in 1971 by President Nixon was another bombshell for cannabis; making it the number one target and listing it as a Schedule I substance. From 1980 to Present day, Medical Marijuana has been fighting battles in and out of court rooms. Since the War on Drugs, it has been legalized to be used medically by twenty-nine states. California was the first state to legalize Medical Marijuana on November 5, 1996. What exactly is the medical benefits of cannabis?Weed, the most common street name, has a great amount of medical use; it can provide relief to symptoms like pain and muscle spasms, these are just a few cannabis can cure. The two chemicals THC and CBD are the most used for medical purposes when it comes to relieving different types of symptoms for different diseases. “THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. It acts much like the cannabinoid chemicals made naturally by the body, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse” (Bradford). This molecule attaches to certain receptors to your brain and activates and affects memory, pleasure, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordination. In the 1980s the University of Virginia was the first to research and find THC killing cancer cells in mice. Rick Simpson, a newly diagnosed skin cancer patient in 2003, remembered hearing this on the radio as a young adult and decided to take matters into his own hands when all other medical treatments failed. He realized if it worked on mice why would it not work on humans. Extracting cannabis oil for over a year, for other medical purposes, Simpson decided to apply the oil onto the part of his skin that was affected by the disease. “To Ricks surprise the cancer was gone. His cannabis oil had cured his cancer” (Horsley). His own doctor and even the cancer organization wanted nothing to do with his findings; just like curing his cancer he decided to do things on his own and produce the cannabis oil and hand it out for free to the people who needed it. With all his help, a documentary was made about Rick and his oil and helped millions of people around the world. “Rick has healed over 5000 people personally with this amazing oil not to mention the countless others all over the world who have heard his story and have been healed” (Horsley). This oil was a big breakthrough in the Medical Marijuana industry, not only can it cure cancer but it has also help other diseases and continues to be a success.But THC is not the only compound in cannabis that has medicinal purpose. CBD has been found to have enormous amounts of benefits as well when it comes to healing different illnesses. It is also non-psychoactive drug, and unlike THC it does not give you the sensation of being “stoned.” Projectcbd.org states, “Scientific and clinical research—much of it sponsored by the US government—underscores CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. CBD has demonstrable neuroprotective and neurogenic effects, and its anti-cancer properties are currently being investigated at several academic research centers in the United States and elsewhere.” CBD oil has been more popular than THC oil over the past few years; because of the non-psychoactive property, it has been prefered to be used by younger patients. Clearly both chemicals have no harmful effects to the body and yet they are still not FDA approved. Not only are there different components in cannabis there are also different types of strains that have different effects to the body. The two main ones are indica and sativa; both contain different effect for medicinal users. Indica’s have a higher THC levels, while sativas have higher CBD levels. The main use for indica is for muscle relaxation, nausea, and and increase in appetite. Patients who have trouble eating and sleeping usually prefer this strain. Sativas effect more of the brain, increasing focus and creativity; it also helps with depression and chronic pain. Medical users must know which one is best for their illness. These are just a few things that these strains are medically used for, there are more uses and other differences to these two strains. (Shown in the picture)Besides the multiple use that cannabis provides for terminal diseases, it also has great use for mental and emotional disorder. It can relieve anxiety, depression, mood disorders, ADD/ADHD, and many more. Personally, marijuana has played a big role in my everyday life. Growing up insomnia has always been a problem, and traditional medicines were never any help; my mother also did not want me taking sleeping pills at a young age. At the age of eighteen a friend who knew about my insomnia suggested marijuana, she said, “try an indica strain, guarantee it will knock you out.” It definitely helped me sleep through the night, and since that day it has been my everyday sleeping aid. Not only did it help with my insomnia, but during my early twenties, depression kicked in and again weed was there to guide me through it all. Seeing all these benefits, my stand on marijuana will always be for a medical purpose and everyone deserves to have a lease harmful medicine than big pharmaceuticals produce. Why are they so against Medical Marijuana but okay with placing poison in people’s everyday pills? Cannabis has a few industries who will do anything in their power to keep it illegal. The real question is, do they have the right morals and are concerned about their consumers health? Or are they just in it for the money? In a current article by reporter Joseph Misulonas, he states, “A recent report found that Big Pharma stands to lose as much as $4 billion per year if medical marijuana became legal in all 50 states. The information is based off a study from 2016 by the University of Georgia, which found that states with legalized medicinal cannabis had less Medicare prescriptions than those where it’s still illegal. The study found that already pharmaceutical companies are losing $166 million annually on drugs where marijuana is now offered as an alternative.” This is a big reason why Big Pharma will spend thousands on anti-marijuana campaigns, and even going as far as making synthetic THC. One company, Insy, donated half a million dollar in Arizona to make sure that weed would not be legalized. During this time they came out with a new product, one that works just as well as THC; even receiving approval from the DEA as a Schedule II drug, while cannabis remains a Schedule I. There is something wrong with that picture, how is it that a drug made by man, meaning unnatural, can be less harmful than a natural plant? Big Pharma, like Insy, will do anything to keep their companies and money flowing, even if it giving people a less better version of their medication. They are not the only ones, big tobacco and even alcohol companies are also investing thousands against weed; no one wants to lose money to a plant. The concern for consumers health and even morals are put to the side, and making money is what it is all about. Besides all the big industries trying to shut out Medical Marijuana, there are a few doctors who do not believe in the medicinal use of cannabis. Most doctors are concerned about the abuse of this substance by patients; also doctors like to believe that it is a Schedule I drug and believe that it is as dangerous as heroin. In an article written by Michael Kirsch, he states, “An advocate of medical marijuana use was railing against this decision and stated that 80 percent of Americans believed marijuana had medical value. His point demonstrates the viciousness of his argument. He might support letting polling determine if a drug is safe and effective; but I trust the FDA and hard science to make these determinations.” Kirsch is not really against marijuana but he has that much trust in the government and what they think is dangerous and not dangerous. A lot of these professionals are being brainwashed into believing that prescription drugs are the safest medicines. Is that something you can believe? In this chart to the left, it shows the number of overdose deaths from prescription drugs in the United States from 2001-2014. You can find this chart along with all other Schedule I drugs on drugabuse.gov. The only chart you will not find on this website is a national overdose death from cannabis; it does not exist, there has been no cases from anyone overdosing on marijuana. For it to be a Schedule I drug and having no use for medical purposes is a bunch of lies—we already know there has been proven research that it has several medical benefits. One doctor from Harvard University, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, states in an interview by Matthew Kind, “we are brainwashed by the government to believe that marijuana is harmful.” This is a very well known pot activist and has been a voice for the medical side of cannabis. He believes in the research that he has done and many of his colleagues has performed as well. Somewhere in history we lost the idea of good medicine and everything became about money. A big concern that most people who are anti-marijuana are children and teens getting ahold of cannabis and abusing the substance. “Next to alcohol and tobacco, marijuana is the drug of choice for American teens. It is by far the most widely used illicit drug: about six times as many teens have tried marijuana as have tried Ecstasy or cocaine” (Jamuna Carroll). Weed is easier for teens to find and get than any other drugs. The only time kids and young adults should be using cannabis is for medicinal purpose. The government should always teach the danger of the early use of this drug, but should not discredit its medical benefits; there must be more information given for the safety of the kids and even for some adults. Medical marijuana is only legal in twenty-nine states in the United States—four of those states are for both medical and recreational use. Even though it is proven to be a better alternative for alcohol and tobacco users, medical users in the twenty-nine states will suffer from it being legalized recreationally. “‘But with legalization, it’s likely that vendors will be looking to cater to recreation users,’ says Kelly, meaning products would be more skewed towards them.Medical users would have a harder time finding the type of cannabis they need” (Wong). California, the most recent state to recreationally legalize marijuana, has been running into a few problems when trying to create rules and regulation for recreational users. For the past year the Department of Food and Agriculture, Department of Public Health, and Department of Consumer Affairs Bureau of Cannabis Control are working on a final set of rules and regulations for the new law; but in June of this year, the the Senate passed the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act—combining recreational and medical laws into one organization. The medical use for cannabis can get lost in all this madness, how are people going to know the difference between medical and recreational marijuana? They must not let these business owners sell both, they must have to choose between the two. Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational cannabis, has been reaching goals and making progress after the law was pass. How did they do this? Marijuana has been legal for both medical and recreational use in Colorado for over two years now, passing the recreational use in 2014. Being the first state to pass it recreationally, they have been under surveillance and everyone is looking to see how they would handle the situation. When passing prop 64, Colorado was determined to make sure that medical marijuana user were not out under the bus; unlike California. Medical Marijuana users in this state have different paperwork than recreational users, they also have different rules to how much pot they can have on them and the amount they can purchase at a time. Colorado also has different taxes when it comes to the two different users. Medical users are taxed less than recreational users; 6.9% compared to 12.9% for recreational. That has to be the best way to run the cannabis industry. We have to make sure that people who need it for medical purposes are getting the right treatment for the right prices; people who use it for fun should be charged more. Is there even a difference between medical and recreational cannabis? Where did recreational marijuana come from? There is a big difference in medical and recreational marijuana; not only is the use for it different, but their are unique percentages of THC and CBD for medical marijuana. For the therapeutic side of cannabis, CBD is the main component use, and as said earlier it has no euphoric effect—there are certain weed plants that only contain cannabidiol—these are the ones that are used for medical purposes. Medical cannabis has always been tested and labeled with the percentage of THC and CBD of each plant. For recreational users, weed is just another way to get high and have fun. These people are in it for the THC, they want the psychoactive part of that cannabis contains. Recreational marijuana has been around in America going back to the late 1890s. After the Mexican Revolution, in the 1920s the use cannabis recreationally became popular when immigrants came to the United States. In the 1930s weed became the center of attention and was discredited of all its medical benefits; from here on people have been smoking pot for their own pleasure. Recreational marijuana is in the way of medical being legalized nationwide; because of the euphoric feeling that it can give, the approval for medical use is hard to accomplish. They must be put into two different categories and not classified as the equivalents; two different type of uses, both less harmful than, pills, alcohol, and tobacco. Medical and Recreational Marijuana should both be legal but in two different systems. Because they are put as equals, the medical benefits of cannabis is having trouble breaking through the fact that it is not a dangerous drug. All the research and test should be enough proof to the DEA that it does not belong on the Schedule I list; it had medical benefits and there is credible sources to prove so. It should be sold in proper packaging and labeled correctly; patients must have prescription from qualified doctors. On the recreational side, the weed that is sold to the public should be accurately tested and should not contain high amounts of THC. The biggest worry in recreational marijuana is the way that the plant is grown and types of chemical that are used to produce the weed. Many cultivators use pesticides that can cause harm to the body when inhaling; policy makers must be strict when it comes to the cultivation. Having these two in different systems can make a big difference in how people view cannabis; it has a good purpose on both sides and both have less harmful effect than most drugs that are legal and approved by the FDA. Cannabis’ reputation as a gateway drug will always be the first thing that people say who are clueless to the asset of this beautiful plant. It has no business being a Schedule I drug; as said earlier it has plenty of medical benefits and that drugs on the Schedule I list are ones with no medical purpose whatsoever. Medical Marijuana has been discredited throughout the years, but from all the research and test the proof of its therapeutic purpose is overwhelming. Today, more people have been open to its medicinal use and more states are starting to recognize it as medicine rather than a dangerous drug. It is time to legalize marijuana nationwide and educate people more on the benefits rather than the myths of its dangers.