Pubdate: Mon, 14 Apr 2003
Source: Ocean County Observer (NJ)
Copyright: 2003 Ocean County Observer
Author: Robert J. Melamede
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Ignorance and fear only promote the suffering of those who could be helped 
by medical marijuana. It has been my experience that most doctors and 
scientists, not to mention politicians and members of law enforcement, have 
not read the current professional scientific literature regarding medical 
marijuana. Had they, most would likely have a different opinion on the topic.

Marijuana-like compounds, known as endocannabinoids, control most of our 
body functions. They help to maintain healthful homeostasis of our immune, 
nervous, endocrine, reproductive, digestive, excretory and cardiovascular 
systems via specific cannabis receptors for which we all make psychoactive, 
cannabis-like compounds.

Strikingly, cannabinoids, including marijuana, have anti-leukemia, 
lymphoma, pheochromocytoma, breast cancer and prostate cancer activities.

Furthermore, the cannabinoids act as natural inhibitors of peripheral pain, 
and regulators of appetite and body temperature.

When you feel pain, your body tries to help you by making endocannabinoids.

When you get hungry, you body is making endocannabinoids that give you the 

When you were born, your mother's milk contained endocannabinoids to start 
you feeding.

If you have a head injury or a stroke, your body makes endocannabinoids to 
protect your brain from the swelling that causes additional damage.

In fact, marijuana and cannabinoids protect brain cells from dying after 
exposure to nerve gas.

One of the arguments against the use of marijuana for any reason is it's 
carcinogenic potential. Prohibition supporters often cite that marijuana 
smoke has even more cancer causing compounds than does tobacco smoke; 
however, this reasoning is incomplete.

Recent scientific studies have shown that there are cancer-causing effects 
that are specifically due to nicotine. In fact, nicotine, through nicotine 
receptors in the airways, protects cells damaged by the carcinogens found 
in tobacco smoke from dying. Cells that are genetically damaged by 
carcinogens and protected from dying are the cells that go on to become 
cancer cells. Hence, consistent with epidemiological studies, tobacco 
causes lung cancer whereas marijuana does not.

It's time to believe the science and the people who are suffering.

How many people must needlessly suffer until then?

I speak with too many of them.

ROBERT J. MELAMEDE Chairman, Biology Department, University of Colorado
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