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Your Views: Legalize marijuana for medical use to ease suffering
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Note: Students from Chestatee High School wrote letters to the editor to The Times on a number of subjects as part of a social studies class project for teacher Ernie Davis. More of their letters will appear on Monday's Opinion page.

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There are many pharmaceutical drugs in this world that are used to alleviate pain or slow down diseases, but at a cost. Pharmaceutical drugs come at a high price, and they are not without their flaws. For all the side effects of one pill, you have to take another for those side effects and then another for those side effects. You then end up with a drawer full of prescription drugs and a very light wallet.

But what if there was one drug you could take once a day that has mild side effects, a cheaper cost, better pain relief and no pills needed. There already is one - it is called marijuana.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, marijuana has been used on people with Alzheimer's disease, HIV/AIDS, arthritis, cancer, epilepsy and many more, and have received much-needed pain relief. Marijuana actually slowed the effects of Alzheimer's and, in two cases, put a rare, terminal cancer in remission for "decades beyond conventional expectations."

No deaths have ever been recorded that were related to marijuana. Pharmaceutical drugs that are in a group called NSAIDS have caused over 7,600 deaths in 70,000 hospitals annually. Drugs like diclofenac, diflunisal, etodolac and naproxen fall into this group.

The people that were killed were most likely seeking pain relief, but couldn't find any without overdosing on the pain medication. Now if they could have used a vaporizer to get the oil vapors of marijuana, they would have had instantaneous pain relief without having to take 10 pills.

There is, however, a drug called marinol. It has one of the 400 chemicals found in marijuana, Delta-9-THC, which is supposed to prevent chemotherapy patients from suffering nausea. The side effects of this pill include nausea and vomiting.

Marijuana is a much safer and less toxic way to treat cancers of the brain and breast, leukemia, melanoma, phaeochromocytoma and a few others better than chemotherapy. It is also a better alternative than drugs for people that have epilepsy. Standard drugs for epilepsy were reported to have poor results on patients even when they used some of the drugs in combination. If people are willing to put their lives at risk for pain relief, shouldn't they have a stronger and safer option?

The U. S. government should legalize the use of marijuana for medical use only and provide the best vaporizers at a discount to people with terminal or chronic illnesses. Why should these people have to suffer all the way to the end of their lives? They didn't choose to have an illness, it was thrust upon them. So why not help?

Jonathan Jones

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