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The Positive Effects of Marijuana
Essays are among the most commonly assigned written coursework in college. The main purpose of an essay is to explore or expound upon a specific message, argument, or idea. In this sample expository essay, the author discusses the positive effects of marijuana.
Up until a few years ago, marijuana or cannabis was considered a dangerous substance that can cause drug abuse and was prohibited by law. The use, sale, and distribution of marijuana were considered a criminal offense, and countless were prosecuted and imprisoned following apprehension. However, recent years have seen a radical shift not only in legislation and official policy but also in the public perspective. For one, the case for legalizing marijuana was bolstered by favorable findings by numerous scientists regarding its medical uses. For another, a significant portion of the public has become more open about their use of the substance. As of current, 38 states across the United States and the District of Columbia allow marijuana for medical purposes while 19 states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana for recreational purposes (Avery, 2022). This sudden change begs the question: what are the positive effects of marijuana. Research shows that not only is marijuana capable of providing a variety of medical uses, but it can also serve as a source of revenue.
Marijuana as Medicine
The medical uses of marijuana are not new. In fact, studies on the origins and uses of marijuana show that it has been cultivated for thousands of years. Archaeological discoveries reveal charred cannabis seeds at an ancient burial site in Romania. Through testing, the seeds were traced to be from the 3 rd millennium B.C.E. (Bridgeman and Abazia, 2017). Meanwhile, ancient sites in the Far East such as Korea, China, and Japan show evidence of cannabis use. Scientists believe that the plant was grown as a source of products such as rope, fabric, and medicine for a variety of ailments (Clarke and Merlin, 2013; Stafford and Bigwood, 1992; Duvall, 2014).
Today, marijuana is still used as a medicine. Indeed, it has been the subject of great scholarly interest given the slew of discoveries scientists are making regarding its medicinal properties. Chief of these is the use of cannabis for treating various types of pain. Pain is one of the most common symptoms. It can be acute or chronic. It may also persist not only during the onset and duration of the condition but also long after the condition has been treated. Recent research shows that cannabis can be an effective pain reliever. The active compounds in marijuana that give it this property are cannabidiol or CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. A study conducted by Reinarman et al. (2011) involving over 1,700 participants found that as high as 82% experienced pain relief from marijuana. Another study by Grinspoon (2018) found that marijuana was capable of relieving pain even in cases where conventional pain relievers have failed. For instance, studies show that marijuana can be effective in relieving pain due to nerve damage, cystitis, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia among others. Cannabis’ ability to address pain arising from such conditions also makes it a potentially safer alternative than strong medications such as opiates (Grinspoon, 2018).
Apart from relieving pain, marijuana can also be used for the relief of anxiety. Like pain, anxiety is a very common symptom and is present in many physical and psychological conditions. In one study, researchers compared the depression and anxiety levels of patients taking opioids and patients taking marijuana as medication. The results showed that depression and anxiety levels are higher among opioid users than marijuana users (Feingold et al., 2017). Furthermore, there are many studies that establish cannabis’ positive effect on anxiety-related to conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (Earlenbaugh, 2020).
Finally, marijuana has also been used for treating conditions like HIV and cancer. Patients with advanced stage HIV are often at risk of experiencing weight loss due to symptoms like anorexia, vomiting, and muscle wasting. Meanwhile, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy also experience loss of appetite, vomiting, and a general decline in nutritional status. Research findings show that medical marijuana can alleviate such symptoms. One study found that marijuana can be a more effective antiemetic agent than conventional drugs among patients undergoing chemotherapy (Badowski, 2017). Multiple studies also showed that marijuana offers the same benefit to HIV patients (Montgomery et al., 2019). Furthermore, new studies show that THC and CBD in marijuana have the capacity to slow down or kill cancer cells in laboratory settings (American Cancer Society, 2020). While this is yet to be observed in clinical settings, this new finding signals that the role of marijuana in cancer treatment may yet expand in the future.
Marijuana as a Source of Revenue
Aside from medical uses, marijuana also has a positive effect on the economy by way of increasing revenue. There has always been a robust trade in marijuana. Its status as a prohibited drug for the most part of the 20 th century has not stopped people from using it. On the other hand, the move to decriminalize and legalize marijuana offers the government the opportunity to regulate the trade for the safety of consumers as well as gain revenue from taxation. Data from states where marijuana is legal support this assumption. A report by the Tax Foundation found that the revenue Colorado and Washington garnered from legalizing recreational marijuana exceeded expectations. The same report predicted that a robust marijuana industry could yield as high as $28 billion in revenue at all levels of the government (Ekins & Henchman, 2016). But these are conservative estimates. For instance, the states of Washington and Colorado alone generated $559 million and $423 million in legal marijuana taxes in 2021, respectively. This has led to greater estimates. According to the analytics company New Frontier, taxation on the federal level could yield as high as $105 billion (Krishna, 2022), a massive amount that can undoubtedly be used to fill many urgent needs. Given these figures, marijuana clearly brings benefits from an economic perspective.
Despite the intense crackdown on marijuana in the previous decades, the past few years have seen a profound shift in the laws, policies, and public perception related to the substance. What was once considered a dangerous drug is now widely studied due to its benefits. Medical marijuana has been exploited for thousands of years, with societies using the plant for treating various illnesses. These recorded effects have led to further research on marijuana’s uses. Now, scientists have found that it can help alleviate symptoms such as pain and anxiety as well as complications arising from conditions like HIV and cancer. Finally, the legalization and regulation of the trade in marijuana have yielded much-needed revenue for the government. The debate over marijuana will likely continue in the coming decades, but clearly, the evidence of its positive effects is growing.
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American Cancer Society. (2020 August 4). Marijuana and cancer . https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/complementary-and-integrative-medicine/marijuana-and-cancer.html
Avery, D. (2022, July 7). Marijuana laws in every state: Is pot legal where you live? CNET. https://www.cnet.com/news/politics/marijuana-laws-in-every-state/
Badowski, M. E. (2017). A review of oral cannabinoids and medical marijuana for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: a focus on pharmacokinetic variability and pharmacodynamics. Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, 80, 441-449. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00280-017-3387-5
Bridgeman, M.B. and Abazia, D.T. (2017). Medical cannabis: History, pharmacology, and implications for the acute care setting. Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 42(3), 180-188.
Clarke, R.C. and Merlin, M.D. (2013). Cannabis: Evolution and ethnobotany. University of California Press.
Duvall, C. (2014). Cannabis. Reaktion Books.
Earlenbaugh, E. (2020, September 17). New research reveals why cannabis helps PTSD . Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/emilyearlenbaugh/2020/09/17/new-research-reveals-why-cannabis-helps-ptsd-sufferers/?sh=7147d67f179a
Ekins, G. & Henchman, J. (2016, May). Marijuana legalization and taxes: Federal revenue impact. Tax Foundation. https://files.taxfoundation.org/legacy/docs/TaxFoundation_FF509.pdf
Feingold, D., Brill, S., Goor-Aryeh, I., Delayahu, Y., & Lev-Ran, S. (2017). Depression and anxiety among chronic pain patients receiving prescription opioids and medical marijuana. Journal of Affective Disorders, 218(15), 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2017.04.026
Grinspoon, P. (2021). Medical marijuana . Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/medical-marijuana-2018011513085. Accessed 3 February 2021.
Krishna, M. (2022, May 18). The economic benefits of legalizing marijuana. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/insights/110916/economic-benefits-legalizing-weed.asp
Montgomery, L., Bagot, K., Brown, J. L., & Haeny, A. M. (2019). The association between marijuana use and HIV continuum of care outcomes: A systematic study. Current HIV/AIDS Reports, 16, 17-28. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11904-019-00422-z
Reinarman, C., Nunberg, H., Lanthier, F., & Heddleston, T. (2011). Who are medical marijuana patients? Population characteristics from nine California assessment clinics. Psychoactive Drugs , 43(2), 128-35. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2011.587700
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