Marijuana is the most commonly abused illegal drug in the United States of America. In 2004, 14.6 million Americans used marijuana at least once. Many people argue that the drug should be made legal because it is so common. Some people even use marijuana as a form of medical treatment. But, as of today, marijuana is still identified as an illegal drug. Though the federal government opposes the use of marijuana for medical purposes, medical marijuana laws vary from state to state. Since 1996, twelve states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. These states are Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
According to certain studies and surveys conducted across the country, marijuana is used in treatment for over 250 medical conditions. Some of these conditions include cancer, AIDS and hepatitis. Marijuana helps ease the nausea and anorexia associated with these diseases. Recent studies have shown the drug to be effective in treating mood disorders and mental health issues such as depressions, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks as well.
However, the Food and Drug Administrations has not approved the use of marijuana for medical treatment. The FDA disapproves of medical marijuana because they believe that marijuana is easy to abuse, “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.” They also believe that there is sound evidence to support the fact that smoking marijuana is damaging because it contains more than 400 different chemicals, including most of the hazardous chemicals found in tobacco smoke, and can negatively affect the brain, reproductive organs, hormones, lungs and the immune system.
Dozens of medical organizations have stepped forward and endorsed allowing patients to use marijuana for medical purposes providing their physicians’ approval. Some of these organizations include Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Public Health Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Nurses Association, British Medical Association, AIDS action, American Academy of HIV Medicine, Lymphoma Foundation of American and Health Canada.
Despite certain health benefits, marijuana remains illegal in the United States. Possession and distribution will be prosecuted accordingly. It has been estimated that an average marijuana clinic, a place where you can obtain marijuana for medical reasons and use it on the premises, consumes about a pound of cannabis per day.
In 2005, the United States Supreme Court approved the Federal Government’s position that federal law allows people who have marijuana to be prosecuted regardless of the defense that it is for medicinal purposes, even in states that exempt its prohibition for medical purposes. Therefore, if you are caught using marijuana it can be considered a crime regardless of whether or not you are using it for medical reasons. According to the U.S. Penal Code, an individual can be imprisoned for up to one year if he or she is caught with marijuana and imprisoned for up to five years for growing a single marijuana plant.