Wether you call it Hemp, Mary Jane, Pot, Weed; it doesn't
matter. It is still Cannabis Sativa, or cannabis for short.
And it is still illegal. The use of marijuana as an
intoxicant in the United States became a problem of public
concern in the 1930s. Regulatory laws were passed in 1937,
and criminal penalties were instituted for possession and
sale of the drug. "Marijuana" refers to the dried leaves
and flowers of the cannabis plant, which contains the
non-narcotic chemical THC at various potencies. It is
smoked or eaten to produce the feeling of being "high." The
different strains of this herb produce different sensual
effects, ranging from a sedative to a stimulant.
The term "marijuana" is a word with indistinct origins.
Some believe it is derived from the Mexican words for "Mary
Jane"; others hold that the name comes from the Portuguese
word marigu-ano, which means "intoxicant". The use of
marijuana in the 1960's might lead one to surmise that
marihuana use spread explosively. The chronicle of its
3,000 year history, however, shows that this "explosion"
has been characteristic only of the contemporary scene. The
plant has been grown for fiber and as a source of medicine
for several thousand years, but until 500~ AD its use as a
mind-altering drug was almost solely confined in India. The
drug and its uses reached the Middle and Near East during
the next several centuries, and then moved across North
Africa, appeared in Latin America and the Caribbean, and
finally entered the United States in the early decades of
this century. Marijuana can even be used as "Biomass" fuel,
where the pulp (hurd) of the hemp plant can be burned as is
or processed into charcoal, methanol, methane, or gasoline.
This process is called destructive distillation, or
'pyrolysis.' Fuels made out of plants like this are called
'biomass' fuels. This charcoal may be burned in today's
coal-powered electric generators. Methanol makes a good
automobile fuel, in fact it is used in professional
automobile races. It may someday replace gasoline. 
Marijuana has many medical purposes also. The cannabis
extract was available as a
medicine legally in this country until 1937, and was sold
as a nerve tonic-but mankind has been using cannabis
medicines much longer than that. Marijuana appears in
almost every known book of medicine written by ancient
scholars and wise men. It is usually ranked among the top
medicines, called 'panaceas', a word which means
'cure-all'. The list of diseases which cannabis can be used
for includes: multiple sclerosis, cancer treatment, AIDS
(and AIDS treatment), glaucoma, depression, epilepsy,
migraine headaches, asthma, pruritis, sclerodoma, severe
pain, and dystonia. This list does not even consider the
other medicines which can be made out of marijuana-these
are just some of the illnesses for which people smoke or
eat whole marijuana today. There are over 60 chemicals in
marijuana which may have medical uses. It is relatively
easy to extract these into food or beverage, or into some
sort of lotion, using butter, fat, oil, or alcohol. One
chemical, cannabinol, may be useful to help people who
cannot sleep. Another is taken from premature buds and is
called cannabidiolic acid. It is a powerful disinfectant.
Marijuana dissolved in rubbing alcohol helps people with
the skin disease herpes control their sores, and a salve
like this was one of the earliest medical uses for
cannabis. The leaves were once used in bandages and a
relaxing non-psychoactive herbal tea can be made from small
cannabis stems. Also cannabis, as any other biomass fuels,
are clean burning and do not increase the amount of CO2 the
atmosphere, therefore making breathing easier for may
Attempts at legalizing marijuana in the US going on for a
long time. But just recently two states, California and
Arizona, voted to legalize it for medical purposes only,
but the US government still enforces the federal law,
stating that federal law overrules state law. As said by Dr
Cliff Schaffer: "In all my study and review of the
information regarding this issue, one question keeps coming
back to me. Let's assume - for the sake of argument - that
marijuana has no medical value whatsoever, despite the fact
that it has a several thousand year history of medical use
and that a prescription drug is made from its primary
active ingredient. Let's assume - for the sake of argument
- that all these medical marijuana patients are just
fooling themselves. Even in that case, what would we stand
to gain as a society by punishing sick people and putting
them through an already overloaded criminal justice system?
Even if they are deluding themselves-
what benefit is there to prosecuting sick people?"
In conclusion to this, it is important to state that there
have been hundreds of studies showing that smoking cannabis
is potentially harmful to the brain and body and the same
number of studies almost, if not totally, contradicting
what these have stated.
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