a tall Asiatic plant having a tough fiber. The fiber can be used to make rope and sailcloth, while marijuana is made from its leaves and flowers. Many names such as, hemp, hashish, pot, grass, and locoweed have known marijuana.

There are sexually distinct male and female marijuana plants that produce intoxicating hashish resin. The male plants however produce less resin and more flowers than the female. The substance in the resin that produces euphoric effects is a chemical called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, abbreviated as THC. The first recorded use of the hemp plant was in Taiwan, where it was used for designs in pottery. It then became an essential part of Chinas culture because it provided the Chinese with clothing, weapons for war and as a means of relieving the sick.

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Today marijuana is used to treat nausea caused by chemotherapy and to increase the appetites of AIDS patients. Although marijuana has been utilized for therapeutic and cultural purposes, it does have some serious drawbacks, such as possible brain and respiratory damage. The earliest record of cannabis use comes from Taiwan, which is an island located off the coast of China.

Archeologists have found broken pieces of pottery, which had been decorated by pressing strips of fiber into the wet clay before it hardened. These strips of twisted fiber were later identified as fibers from the hemp plant. In China, hemp was used as fabric for clothing, which was worn out of respect especially when mourning the dead.

The Chinese became more familiar with the hemp plant and realized it had other functions besides clothing. During wars, the Chinese used hemp as strings for their bows, which were looked at as superior because the hemp caused the arrows to move farther with greater speed.Hemp was used throughout Chinas history as clothing, material to write on and it became a symbol of power over good and evil. Chinese doctoring was based on the concept of demons, which means that if a person was ill it was because demons had invaded the body. During the twenty-eighth century B.

C., emperor Shen-Nung was credited with teaching the Chinese about medicine. Shen-Nung was concerned about his subjects being ill so he set out to find an alternate means of relieving the sick. He was an expert farmer that set out to discover the powers of Chinas plants. Using himself as a guinea-pig, he ingested as many as seventy different poisons in a single day, in which he was able to observe the effects on the body because it has been said that he had the ability to see through his abdominal wall into his stomach.

He then wrote the Pen Tsao, which lists the hundreds of drugs derived from vegetable, animal, and mineral sources. There were many references made to ma, the Chinese word for cannabis. According to the text, cannabis was a very peculiar drug and it possessed both yin and yang. Yin symbolizes the feminine influence in nature, which are weak, negative and passive, where the yang symbolizes the positive masculine forces, which are strong, active and positive. When these two forces are in balance, the body was said to be at equilibrium, if one of these forces dominated the other, the body was said to be ill. Marijuana was a difficult drug to oppose because it contained both the yin and yang.

The solution to this problem was to grow only the yin, which was the female plant because it contained more of the medicinal principle than yang, the male plant. Marijuana was then used to treat menstruation fatigue, gout, malaria, constipation and absentmindedness. As the Chinese physicians became more familiar with marijuana, it continued to increase its importance as a therapeutic agent. It was used during difficult surgical procedures as an anesthetic, which was made from resin and wine.

Today there have been proposals to make marijuana legally available as a medicine, although it is faced with claims that there are safer and more effective drugs out there. In the fall of 97, voters in California and Arizona approved laws allowing the ill to smoke marijuana for medical reasons as long as a physician prescribed it. Other states have passed legislation to allow marijuanas use as a medicine, yet the federal law preempts their making marijuana legally available to patients. A number of studies have shown that marijuana use can ease pain, reduce nausea with cancer chemotherapy, increase the appetites of AIDS patients who are wasting away, lower the pressure within the eyes of glaucoma patients, and decrease muscle spasm and spasticity. It was more effective than any other available pharmaceutical medications.Many AIDS patients to treat the nausea also smoke marijuana to both treats the disease and the AZT drug therapy, which is an anti-viral drug used in the treatment of AIDS.

Because it stimulates appetite, marijuana also counters HIV related wasting away, allowing AIDS patients to gain weight and prolong their lives.People with spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis are prone to painful muscle spasms and tremors. There are existing drugs that can give only partial relief with severe side effects. The patients feel that with smoking marijuana they obtain immediate relief, whereas an oral drug delays the ease of pain.

(Mathre et al, 417).In 1986, a synthetic version of delta-9-THC capsule known as Marinol was marketed in the United States and labeled as an anti-emetic, which means, it suppresses nausea. Despite some utility, this product has some drawbacks, such as its cost. A patient taking three five-milligram capsules a day would spend over five thousand dollars to use Marinol for one year. In comparison to natural marijuana, Marinol has also has some pharmaceutical shortcomings. The cannabis plant contains numerous chemicals cannabinoids and its believed that its the combination of these or specific cannabinoids such as cannabidiol, that has therapeutic value, not the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC. (Mathre et al, 224).

Since THC is delivered in oral capsules it enters the blood stream slowly and therefore yields lower concentrations per dosage. In patients suffering from nausea, the swallowing of capsules may itself cause vomiting. There were two studies done to prove that Cannabidiol can treat certain inflammatory diseases. Three patients with Huntingtons Disease, who had been previously unresponsive to therapy with neuroleptics, were given Cannabidiol. After the second week improvement in choreic movement occurred by twenty to forty percent. Except for transient, mild hypertension no side effects were recorded.

(Sadyk et al, 342)Cannabidiol was given to five patients with dystonia disorders. Improvement occurred in all five patients by twenty to fifty percent. (Consroe et al 277-282)There are two effects upon marijuana users, the acute effects, which are the effects while the user is under the influence of the drug, and the chronic effects, which are the long-term effects of marijuana.

The acute effects of THC include slowed reflexes, mild elation, paranoia, reduced short term memory, relaxed or dreamy feeling, faster pulse, increased appetite, dry mouth, red eyes and heightened humor. This high can last from one to three hours, depending on the dose and levels of THC. The long-term effects of marijuana are brain damage and lung damage, yet these effects have been disputed. The effect on the brain is an area that has been thoroughly studied. Researchers have established that marijuana effects coordination and short-term memory making it inadvisable to drive, operate heavy machinery, or try to learn anything important while under the drugs influence.

The explanation for this may have come in 1988, when scientists found receptors for THC in the parts of the brain controlling memory, mood, visual processing, attentiveness, and the ability to filter out extra stimuli. This study also clarified why a fatal overdose is impossible: There are hardly any THC receptors in the areas of the brain that control basic life functions, such as consciousness and respiration. In the most recent published study, rhesus monkeys were exposed to smoke equivalent to four or five joints per day for one year. When examined seven months after the yearlong study, there was no observed neurological damage. (Marijuana Myths).

In a number of studies there was no significant difference detected. In fact, there is research demonstrating that marijuana intoxication does not impair the retrieval of information learned previously. However there is evidence that marijuana, particularly in high doses, may interfere with users ability to transfer new information into long term memory. Respiratory damage is also a result of chronic marijuana smoking. Smokers of marijuana have frequent symptoms of chronic bronchitis as smokers of tobacco although tobacco smokers smoked more than twenty cigarettes a day, compared with the three to five joints a day. Marijuana smokers also had microscopic damage to the lungs system of defense against inhaled contaminants.

Since marijuana joints do not have filters and are usually smoked down to the last fraction of an inch, they deliver more irritating particles to the lungs. While there are these real dangers associated with marijuana use, many of these common fears about marijuana are completely unfounded. There have been comparisons between marijuana and LSD because it is said that marijuana may produce hallucinogenic effects.

The capacity of LSD to produce hallucinations has little to do with the many serious dangers. It is true that marijuana can cause hallucinations, yet there is little evidence that specifies the dosage and it does not occur in all smokers. The possible causes of birth defects may be divided into chromosomal damage and interference with the development of the embryo. In marijuana, the evidence as to chromosomal damage is even weaker than that involving LSD.

What this means is that like tobacco, caffeine, and aspirin, marijuana is unhealthy for the embryo as well.Every year thousands of Americans die from alcohol, tobacco, aspirin and caffeine. From tobacco alone more than 340,000 have died, while over 150,000 Americans have died from alcohol. An overdose of aspirin has caused the death of over 180 Americans.

Caffeine has caused 1,000 to 10,000 deaths. In the thousands of years marijuana has been in existence, it has caused zero deaths.

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