A Fight For Cannabis Essay, Research Paper
Over the centuries, drugs have been regulated, legalized and placed under prohibition. Cannabis, which can be used in many positive ways, unfortunately can also be abused as a drug. This drug is being battled over both politically and personally, while constantly undergoing tests for positive and negative impacts. From the cannabis plant comes hemp and marijuana. The sole aspect of marijuana however, is preventing this plant from becoming more popular in the industrial world. Cannabis, which is among a family of plants can be converted into hemp, a cloth (also know as canvass), or a rope material that is the most durable of the group. Hemp plants generally contain no chemicals that can be used for drugs(THC). An aspect, which is virtually unknown to the modern world, is that cannabis when converted to pulp can become very useful. In addition, cannabis is very popular dietary supplement and medicinal tool.
Hemp plants contain many nutritional items that can be safely ingested. For example, hemp seeds are a very good source of protein and contain fatty oils that are needed for the body. The seeds are described by doctors as fantastically digestible and were once called edestine, the model for vegetable protein. In addition the leaves from hemp plants can be eaten as roughage. Though they are bitter, the leaves still have nutritional value. Furthermore, oil can be extracted from hemp seeds for various applications. This is one of the few sources for essential fatty acids, which contains
almost no saturated fats. These oils can reduce the risk of heart disease and have proven to increase the life span of some birds that eat the seeds. Not only that, hemp plants are very easy to grow, and can survive almost anywhere. The plants them selves require very little fertilizer or pesticides. This is good because environmental contamination results from high chemical usage. Also money is saved from not needing the chemicals in the first place, and thus cannabis is affordable to grow. Deep roots and nitrogen rich leaves cycle through the soil to keep it fertile and nutritionally rich. With agriculture producing hemp plants, new worlds could be opened for industrial sales.
Growing cannabis hemp for cloth material has many perks. The stock of the hemp plant can be separated into two parts, the Bast and the Hurd. From the bast (fiber) hemp plants can be woven into almost any kind of cloth. This cloth is extremely durable and has been used in many different types of applications. For example, the first Levi s blue jeans were made out of hemp material. The sails on ship (canvas) were also made from cannabis, as it would not easily rot from sea spray. If hemp is harvested properly, the herd is allowed to seep back into the ground from time and rain, returning many minerals to the soil. Hemp cloth may not be as soft as cotton-based materials; however, there are ways to treat hemp to become softer. Over all, hemp products have many advantages to those made of cotton.
When taking into consideration the way cotton is grown nowadays, hemp is by far safer for the environment. For example, the United States cotton industry uses half of the total pesticides sprayed each year. Cotton crops are very damaging to the soil and further require large amounts of fertilizer to grow. Hemp plants resists pests, can grow in
depleted soil and thus require vary little in terms of pesticides or fertilizers. Chemical conservation saves the environment a great deal and helps to insure that agriculture can
grow for decades to come. In addition to making cloth, hemp plants can also be used for making paper. Hemp plants can produce both fiber (bast) and pulp (hurd) paper. Fiber paper, which was the first paper to be created in ancient China, was also made out of hemp. Most hemp paper made today contains both bast and hurd, and is far superior to chemical pulp paper made from trees. This is because it can be prepared without chemicals to achieve smooth and glossy white textures saving the environment much stress. In addition to having environmental safe hemp paper, pages will last for centuries because it doesn t require acids that slowly eat away the pulp. Furthermore, less than four percent of America s old-growth forests remain standing, and thus cannabis hemp is a much safer solution for preserving wildlife. Minerals are not depleted from the soil upon harvest, and hemp grows much more rapidly than trees, creating yet another alternative for the environment.
When the heavily relied on fossil fuels depleted, biomass fuels will be the next source of energy in demand. The pulp (hurd) from hemp plants can be processed into many fuel sources through destructive distillation, or pyrolysis For example, from this procedure; hemp can be converted into charcoal, methanol, methane or even gasoline. Not only is this fuel source an affordable alternative, it is virtually free from all metals, and sulfur, thus reducing the greenhouse effect. From the pulp, hemp can be used to process ethanol, which is used in high performance engines. In addition to producing gasoline from the pulp of hemp, some diesel engines can run on pure pressed hemp seed oil. Processing enough fuel to supply the world s needs would be difficult, however it is a
possible alternative. Further more, biomass fuels can be made right here in the United States, instead of having to import fuels from other countries. The economy would
benefit from spending money within the nation along with providing more jobs for Americans. Farmers, chemists and shippers would be in greater demand to produce this new fuel source. Further more, hemp plants are of a higher quality and can be a higher quantity fuel source than trees. According to the 1916 calculations of the USDA, one acre of hemp plants can replace over four acres of trees, as they can be harvested every three months. Harvesting mass quantities of the cannabis plants would also widen the industry for new innovative products.
There are constantly new applications that spring forth from the construction of hemp. For example, fibrous hemp stalk can be glued together to create pressboard or
composite board. This imitation wood has proven to be many times more elastic and durable than hardwood. In addition, many types of plastic can be constructed from high cellulose hemp hurd. In the 1930 s Henry Ford made an entire car out of cannabis based bio-plastic. The oils from hemp seeds can be used in the production of various varnishes and lubricants. Hemp seed oils have also been modified to make antiseptics and topical creams. Furthermore French archeologists have discovered that cements found in bridges and roads have held up for extraordinarily long periods of time. This was due to a process that mineralized hemp stalks into long lasting cement. They have also discovered a way to make a super drywall called isochanvre, which insulates against heat and noise as well as lasts a long time. New research and experiments with cannabis often ventures into the medical field offering new cures and alternative medicines as well.
For thousands of year s marijuana, has been ranked among the top medicines by ancient scholars and wise men. In ancient books and journals it was recorded as a panaceas, (cure-all) because it had positive effects on many diseases. For Example, with
modern medicine, marijuana can be used directly for multiple sclerosis, cancer treatment, AIDS (and AIDS treatment), glaucoma, depression, epilepsy, migraine headaches, asthma, pruritis, sclerodoma, severe pain, and dystonia. Many other medicines can be produced from marijuana, theses are just some of the common ailments for which people eat or smoke marijuana today. In addition, over 60 chemicals exist in marijuana that can be used for medical purposes such as disinfectants. The most well known uses for marijuana today, is to help control nausea and vomiting. Cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy or AIDS patients, who use AZT, must be able to eat, and keep it down. Smoking marijuana is an extremely good way to fight nausea, as the ability to fight it can make a life or death situation. In addition, marijuana can control eye pressure and keep glaucoma from causing blindness. Patients who have glaucoma can actually prevent the dieses from progressing if they use marijuana regularly. In the cases of Multiple sclerosis, marijuana can stop spasms and also prevent the disease from getting worse. Marijuana that is smoked or consumed directly is only a portion of the medicinal uses of this plant.
Medicines made from cannabis are cheap safe and easy to extract. These are major advantages that natural medicines have over other prescription drugs. In addition, prescription drugs are known to have dangerous side effects, which is not likely to occur from medicines made of cannabis. Synthetic medicines can be made to duplicate those of marijuana, such as Dronabinol. These drugs do work, but nothing works as well as the
original. The only problem with this synthetic drug is that, doctors don t like to prescribe it and pharmacies don t like to carry it. Paper work from the DEA detours pharmaceutical companies from carrying it and dronabinal only comes in pill form, which is useless to
nauseated patients. Furthermore, dronabinol contains only one of the many chemicals that can be found in marijuana.
Over the years many myths have been built up to detour people from using marijuana. For example marijuana does not stay in your fat cells, keeping users in a drug like trance for months. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. (THC) which is the chemical that users smoke to get high only remains in the body for a few hours. THC is converted into metabolites called 11-hydroxy-tetrahydrocannabinol and 11-nor-9-carboxy-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is what shows up in drug tests. Studies, which measure the effects of marijuana, concur that no THC remains in the fat cells for over 4 hours. In addition, the rumors that marijuana is becoming more potent, is not true. Some falsified statistics have stated that marijuana has gotten over twenty to thirty time stronger since the sixties. This is an impossibility as marijuana would have to become over 100% THC, with a potency increase of that amount. If this were true, smoking marijuana would actually be safer as smaller quantity would be required to get users satisfied. Less smoking equals less lung damage too! A common practice to smokers is called auto-titration , which means that users smoke until they are satisfied. Smoking too much marijuana has actually been described, as unpleasant and thus greater amounts are not always better. Furthermore, marijuana does not cause brain damage. The rumor that marijuana killed brain cells, based on a poorly tested experiment, was actually criticized by a medical review board. A recent study carried out on Rhesus monkeys, involved
sensitive machinery to analyze brain activity, proved that brain cells don t die during marijuana usage. The truth is that no study has ever demonstrated cellular damage, stupidity, mental impairment, or insanity has been brought on specifically by marijuana
use. However any drug that is abused will have negative results, thus moderation is important.
On a positive note, no one has ever overdosed from smoking too much marijuana. Marijuana has actually been deemed so safe that overdosing on it is impossible. The only danger with this drug is that it has been mixed with other illegal drugs to form unstable reactions. According to a DEA Judge, Marijuana is the safest therapeutically active substance known to mankind. Unfortunately, just like any drug, marijuana does have some negative aspects even if they are minute. The most dramatic and substantial problem that has been recorded from marijuana usage, is short-term memory loss. In some cases people find that they have strange, sudden and unexpected memory lapses in mid conversation. As far as science has determined these symptoms only occur when the user is high. They do not carry over or become permanent when the user is sober, even under heavy usage. The only other negative aspect is that marijuana smoking slows down reaction times, which can make driving dangerous. However, in some cases the use of marijuana actually allows people to think more in depth and clearly, thus they use it as a studying tool.
Marijuana is not a gateway drug, regardless of what others has been lead to believe. In this country their are over forty million marijuana users and only a fraction of those have turned to use heroin. In fact the number of marijuana and heroin users in Amsterdam went down after cannabis was legalized. As marijuana is not a physically
addictive drug, research has proven that it actually keeps people from turning to harder drugs. For example, people don t build up a tolerance for marijuana; in fact the opposite may be true. That is to say the longer smokers use marijuana; the less they need to get
high. In addition, the medical community no longer supports the gateway theorem. Previously, it was understood that all hard drug users started with marijuana. What was not considered was the fact that most hard drug users still smoke marijuana, as it can help to take the edge off hard drugs. In fact, researchers use marijuana to help get people off of crack and other dangerous drugs. Myths often play off what people would like to hear, and can be very difficult to disprove.
Many people are worried that if marijuana were legal, children would have greater access to it. This has some plausibility, but children already have access to it off most street corners and schoolyards. The difference is that marijuana would be cleaner and safer if sold by the government and not local drug dealers. In addition marijuana, has been exaggerated to equal the damage of 10 cigarettes. Marijuana does have more tar than cigarettes, which is true, however their are safe ways to ingest it, such as using a vaporizer, or eating it. A vaporizer is a device that bakes marijuana without using a flame to release the THC. The main difference is that marijuana does not contain nicotine, which is cancer causing when burned, and also closes the lungs preventing smoke and dirt from escaping. THC is a bronchial dilator, which works in the opposite way, preventing the lungs from bunching up, and allowing impurities to escape.
A very good question that is circulating right now, is what should the government do with its current drug users? Current laws mandate that marijuana possessors be given jail time. This is absurd considering over five percent of the population currently are
marijuana users. In addition, jails are overcrowded as is, and at any given time there are 425 inmates behind bars for every 100,000 people. Murderers and other violent offenders are being let out early to impression drug users who have not committed violent crimes.
The Clinton administration even stated, Users need treatment, not mistreatment. Jail time is not a good method for getting users off drugs, it only crates more problems.
As with any drug, marijuana is not without negative aspects. The only significantly bad results that is coming back from testing, is that marijuana contains over 400 chemicals. This number is quite high, however coffee contains over 800 chemicals and cigarettes have over 100 poisons. Cannabis does contain 60 unique chemicals, which have medicinal uses. Theses chemicals are called cannabinoids and can help cure such ailments like insomnia. Another chemical is cannabidolic acid, which is a very powerful anti-biotic similar to penicillin. One of the major highlights to these chemicals; however, is that they can be individually extracted without laboratory equipment. Another setback to marijuana is that has an immunosuppressive effect. This means that it temporarily shuts off certain cells in the liver. The cells that are affected are called microphages and quickly return to normal when the user is not in hailing smoke. Because the liver is an important tool for supporting the immune system, it may make drug users susceptible to catching colds. No proof exists that smokers are susceptible to colds; however, the risk is still there. On the positive side, this temporary shutdown of the liver is helpful for fighting multiple sclerosis. Similarly, metabolites can remain in the lungs for several months, which may also affect the immune system, though the effects are less than those from tobacco smoking. Some immunity traits have actually been said to be strengthened
by marijuana use, which may explain the reason why AIDS patients can smoke without problems.
Cannabis, throughout history has been regarded in a respected manor. It has many useful purposes, such as cloths, fuels and medicines. Negative opinions towards the drug have seriously hindered its reputation in recent times, and prevented it from becoming more wide spread. Nonetheless its potential still exists and a waits to be exploited to its full potential. Advancement in its status may only ever come through research and experimentation, but it is important to find information that is not bias to pass judgment on this ancient resource.