This is a research paper on marijuana. It is commonly known as a stimulant drug, mostly abused by the youth. However, few people know of its medical importance. This research paper discusses the medical importance of marijuana. Marijuana Marijuana is the most common used illicit drug in the United States. A dry, shredded green/brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, it is usually smoked as cigarette (joint), or in a pipe (bong). It also is smoked in blunts (cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with marijuana) often in combination with another drug.

Use also might include mixing marijuana with food or brewing it as tea. The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Effects on the brain, heart and lungs The membranes of certain nerve cells in the brain contain protein receptors that bind to THC, Once securely in place, THC kicks off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the high that users experience when they smoke. Scientists’ nave learnt a lot about how THC acts in the brain to produce its many effects.

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When someone smokes marijuana, THC rapidly passes from the lungs in to the blood stream, which carries the chemical to organs throughout the body, including the brain. In the brain, THC connects to specific sites called cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells and influences the activity of those cells. Studies have also indicated that a user’s risk of heart attack more than quadruplets in the first hour of smoking marijuana. The researchers suggest that such an effect might occur from marijuana’s effects on blood pressure and heart rate and reduced carrying capacity of blood (Mathre Mary Lynn, 1997).

Medical use of marijuana The issue of smoking marijuana as a means of treating the symptoms associated with certain medical conditions has been debated for nearly 30 years. Starting with claims made in the early 1970s by some cancer and glaucoma patients that smoking marijuana could counter complications associated with their diseases, the number of therapeutic claims made for the drug has increased substantially. Today, the list of conditions that are allegedly treatable by smoking the drug has expanded to include pain, symptoms related to AIDS, and spasticity associated with various movement disorders (Mack A., etal, 2001).

Chemotherapy and nausea treatment Shohov, in her book, Medical us of marijuana, says that research data published in the 1970s suggested that oral marijuana-referring to its synthetic form of its psychoactive ingredient tetrehydrocannabinol (THC)-was effective in controlling nausea experienced by some cancer patients who were undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. Early clinical evaluations of marijuana were conducted primarily using oral and smoked THC rather than the smoked natural form of the drug.

She also says that in an early placebo controlled study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Chang and associates examined the efficacy of oral and smoked THC as an anti emetic. They found out that smoked form of the drug was more reliable than the oral form in achieving blood concentration of THC necessary for therapeutic purposes. The researchers also noted that for some patients, especially non smokers, the inhalation of marijuana smoke was quite harsh and objectionable (Shohov, 2003).

Treatment of movement disorders and analgesia Marijuana is also used to treat a variety of neurological and movement disorders. several anecdotal and a few case studies have been reported attesting to the drug’s role in relieving spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis(MS). In addressing marijuana’s place in the treatment of other neurological disorders, a group of expert researchers said that there were evidence form animal studies to suggest a possible role for cannabinoids in the treatment of certain types of epileptic seizures.

They qualified this hypothesis by noting that there is little information on the use of the drug for the actual treatment of epilepsy (Shohov, 2003). Furthermore, the drug can be used in the treatment of analgesia or pain relief only in the context of a handful of illnesses (headache, dysentery, menstrual cramps and depression) that are often cited by marijuana advocates as medical reasons to justify the drug being available as a prescription medication (Joy J. E. etal, 1999).

Reference

1) Shohov Tatiana, (2003). Medical use of marijuana: policy, regulatory, and legal issues, London: Nova Publishers. 2) Joy Janet Elizabeth, Watson Stanley J. , Benson John A. (1999). Institute of Medicine (U. S. ). Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Health. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. Washington: National Academies Press. 3) Mack Alison , Joy Janet Elizabeth. (2001). Marijuana as medicine? : the science beyond the controversy. New York: National Academies Press. 4) Mathre, Mary. Lynn. (1997). Cannabis in medical practice: a legal, historical, and pharmacological overview of the therapeutic use of marijuana. London: McFarland.