Attempts to legalize marijuana have been an ongoing battle since the early part of the 1970’s. The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, appointed by President Nixon, recommended the elimination of penalties for marijuana personal use and casual non-profit transfers of small amounts. In 1973, Oregon voted to decriminalize marijuana, making possession of less than an ounce a civil offense punishable by a small fine. By 1977, most states had begun treating marijuana possession as a misdemeanor, while eleven states had decriminalized it.
The trend did not remain in place long. In 1983, President Reagan began his campaign against marijuana use, spraying the dangerous pesticide, paraquat on domestic marijuana crops and using military methods to uproot plants and arrest growers in Northern California. By 1990, the federal campaign, “Operation Green Merchant” was in full swing, persuading states to enact harsher marijuana use laws, confiscating lists of people who had purchased grow equipment and raiding homes.
The step backward has much to do with the complexities of the marijuana plant. Marijuana contains over five hundred different chemical compounds, many of which remain poorly understood. A number of the compounds are cannibinoids that bind to receptors in both your body and your brain. Research suggests that marijuana smoke contains up to seventy percent more carcinogens than tobacco. The FDA has, to date approved only two THC based synthetic drugs that reduces anxiety, stimulate appetite and control nausea and vomiting.
Perpetrating the Myths
Studies remain inclusive regarding the harmful effects of carcinogens in marijuana. A 2006 UCLA study reported that chronic marijuana smokers who did not smoke tobacco showed no evidence of increased risk for lung cancer. According to Mahmoud ElSohly, PHD., Director of the University of Mississippi Marijuana project, “THC has also been shown to have anti-cancerous behavior”.
One of the objections raised against marijuana use is that the binding of cannibinoids to your cells can have a negative effect on your immune system. However, researchers have two main cannibinoids – THC and cannibidiol (CBD) as beneficial, according to Dr. ElSohly. The problem, he states, is in controlling the dosage. You do not need much THC to experience medicinal benefits.
The FDA approved the use of Marinol, a synthetic drug using low dosage THC in a capsule form. Only about ten to twenty percent of the dose is accepted and absorbed by the body. Nor is it predictable. While some patients respond to it well, others report not receiving any benefits at all, reported Dr. ElShohly. Dr. ElShohly does not necessarily support the campaign to legalize medical marijuana, but does state, “there are many indications for which THC would be a good medicine if you had the right formulas and dosage”.