The word marihuana, commonly spelled phonetically as marijuana, comes from the Mexican word for the plants know scientifically as Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. Humans and animals have used the psychoactive plant for thousands of years. The flowering buds of the plant contain glands filled with hundreds of complex compounds, including nearly one hundred cannabinoid compounds. Of these common, two of the most studied are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabidiol (CBD).
Researches are just starting to unlock the secrets and potential of the cannabis plant. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to do research on cannabis in the United States. Scientists in Israel and Canada have lead the world is recent decades in studying the effects of marijuana as a medicine to combat a host of deadly, dangerous diseases.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that creates the euphoric high feeling in the user. THC has been used medicinally to relieve stress, increase appetite and alleviate pain. Soldiers returning from war zones are being treated with THC to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Some negative side effects of marijuana use include dry mouth, paranoia and increased heart rate.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound with profound medicinal benefit. Patients suffering with diseases such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and cancer have shown increased quality of life and the ability to overcome their diseases by using marijuana. Studies have shown that CBD can not only inhibit the growth of cancer cells but can also eradicate cancer cells while leaving health cells undamaged. Amazingly hybrid marijuana plants have been bred to contain high amounts of CBD and very low amounts of THC, thus patients can medicate without feeling the effects of the THC.
The botanical cousin of marijuana, commonly referred to as hemp, is a variety of cannabis that has almost no THC content. Hemp has been used throughout human history to create textiles, cloth, paper and many other articles of trade. The nutritional value of the hemp plant is unequaled and can be found in many health food stores throughout the country. Billions of dollars in economic activity are lost annually due to the federal restrictions on hemp production. Higher costs and regulations associated with imported hemp reduce manufacturing opportunities and potential job creation.
Marijuana thrived as an agricultural commodity, medicine and recreational drug in much of the world until the early 20th century, when the U.S. government began a quest to eradicate the plant from the earth. In the 21st century, Republicans must restore sound science to the marijuana debate. There are too many know medical benefits of marijuana for it to remain classified as a schedule one narcotic with the federal government. Also, we create a disadvantage for American farmers by outlawing the growth and production of industrial hemp.
Thomas Jefferson said, “The greatest service that can be rendered to any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.”