Marijuana is a drug made from the dried leaves and flowers of the hemp plant Cannabis Sativa (also known as Cannabis Indica). The drug is commonly used by smoking it by rolling it in tobacco leaves or placing it in a pipe. The active ingredient pf the drug is called Delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol- the effects of which are characteristic of depressant drugs (Onaivi, 1990).
The labeling of marijuana as an illegal drug has been come under vicious attacks. Campaigns advocating its legalization have been intensive. This paper assumes the tone of this campaign. To do this, the paper will compare and contrast a number of studies to support its point.
Marijuana has been observed by a number of studies to have the following effects: dry mouth, nausea, headache, nystagmus, tremor, decreased coordination, increased heart rate, altered pulmonary status, altered body temperature, reduced muscle strength, decreased cerebral blood flow and increased food consumption. The observed neuropsychotic effects of marijuana were: anxiety and panic, paranoia, confusion, aggressiveness, hallucinations, sedation, altered libido, possible suicidal ideation, depersonalization, derealization, poor sense of time, worsened short-term memory, addictive behaviors and amotivational syndrome. ( Losken et al, 1996); (Schuckit, 1989); (Hubbard et al, 1993); (Smart et al, 1982); (Nahas, 1977); (Benowitz; 1975).
A study of 129 college students by Block et al found that among heavy users of marijuana, critical brain related skills such as attention, memory, and learning were significantly impaired. This occurred even after 24 hours of use. The heavy marijuana users displayed difficulty in sustaining and shifting their attention and in registering, organizing and using information .The study only shows that someone who smokes marijuana once daily may be functioning at a reduced intellectual level all of the time. (Block et al, 1993)
However in another study, the same researchers showed that long-term heavy marijuana user's ability to recall words from a list was impaired 1 week after the use of marijuana but returned to normal by 4 weeks. The implication of the results shows that that even after long-term heavy marijuana use, if an individual quits marijuana use, some cognitive abilities may be recovered. (Block et al, 1996)
While this studies have shown that have enumerated the supposed ill effects of marijuana, a number of studies have shown that these effects can have positive benefits. According to the study of Foltin, Byrne and Fishman, inhaled marijuana increases appetite and food intake (Foltin et al, 1998). This was seen as a result of the increased heart rate (i.e. increase metabolism) caused by marijuana. This is particularly important to people suffering from eating disorders. The study of Beal et al and Gortes et al, confirmed the study of Foltin. In fact, they were able to isolate the component of marijuana that produced this effect. The component was dronabidol. (Beal et al, 1995)
Marijuana was also found to have benefits in treating glaucoma. Studies by Hepler et al showed dramatic decreases in intraocular pressure with smoked marijuana in patients with glaucoma (Hepler, 1971). Merritt et al verified the study and found it to be true especially for patients with poorly treated glaucoma. (Merritt, 1980)
The crucial point that must be pointed out