Legalization of Marijuana Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

marijuana should be legalized only for medicinal purposes.

The debate over medicinal marijuana usage and legality is a controversial one. Many experts argue the drug costs society too much money in terms of law enforcement and incarceration costs when the monies could be better spent in other law enforcement areas. A large majority of the American people does believe marijuana should be decriminalized for medical usage. In 2001, 34% of adult Americans believed marijuana should be legal, at least in small amounts, the largest percentage since 1969, and up to 70% of adults approved of using medicinal marijuana for certain ailments (Cauchon 01A). However, several questions regarding medicinal marijuana usage that must be addressed.

First, is marijuana a safe and effective medicine? Proponents maintain marijuana has been used medicinally for thousands of years and for a variety of uses. They claim that it is safe, no one has ever "died of an overdose," and that it is safe, effective, and helpful in a variety of serious ailments, from multiple sclerosis to cancer and AIDS. In fact, even the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) chief administrative law judge maintains the DEA should decriminalize marijuana partly because of its medicinal benefits ("Briefing Paper"). Clearly, a variety of experts agrees that marijuana has numerous medicinal benefits, and can help a wide variety of patients.

Second, are other drugs available that are as effective? While there may be other drugs available that can aid in some of the medicinal uses marijuana is currently used for, marijuana seems to have more medical uses than many other drugs. Some studies have shown that marijuana is more effective in treating some cancer patients because they cannot tolerate the cancer drugs available, while they are able to tolerate marijuana. One doctor notes,

It's true that other drugs are available for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, but he and other advocates contend that some patients can't take those drugs -- or any drug, including Marinol, that must be swallowed. In such cases, unrelenting vomiting may lead patients to drop out of a potentially lifesaving chemotherapy regimen (Fackelmann).

Therefore, there may be other drugs capable of treating the debilitating affects of illnesses such as cancer, but many of these drugs have harsh symptoms of their own, and many patients find they get more relief from marijuana, and can tolerate its affects much more easily.

Third, should the FDA approval process be circumvented with legislation? Having the FDA approve medicinal marijuana is simply another stepping stone in the process, and it should be circumvented with legislation because there have already been numerous studies as to the benefits of medical marijuana that can be used to illustrate the importance of legalization. Patients who use marijuana medicinally show improvement over those who do not in many areas, and these studies, along with studies on the long-term usage of the drug in other areas where it is legal, such as the Netherlands, point to success in managing marijuana and its affects. One doctor writes, "Thousands of patients with cancer, AIDS, and other diseases report they have obtained striking relief from these devastating symptoms by smoking marijuana. The alleviation of distress can be so striking that some patients and their families have been willing to…

Sources Used in Document:


Author not Available. "Medical Marijuana Briefing Paper." Marijuana Policy Project. 2003. 22 March 2004.

Cauchon, Dennis. "Marijuana Attains Record Support." USA Today, 24 Aug. 2001, pp 01A.

Fackelmann, Kathleen. "Marijuana on Trial." 22 March 1997. 22 March 2004.

Frood, Arran. "Dope at the Wheel." 23 March 2002. 22 March 2004.

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