Legalize Marijuana1





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