Campus club offers benefits of marijuana

We all have a little cannabis in us.

At least that’s what narrator Peter Coyote said during Monday night’s screening of the Len Richmond film, “What if cannabis cured cancer.”

The film was shown during a meeting for the University’s chapter of The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. According to their website, since its founding in 1970, NORML has provided a voice for Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition, favoring an end to the practice of arresting marijuana smokers. NORML continues to lead the fight to reform state and federal marijuana laws.

Established in the spring of 2010, the university’s chapter of NORML is the first organization of its kind to hit campus.

Jacob Fox, a sophomore from Philadelphia, Penn., and the club’s president, used the film as a capstone for the final meeting of the semester.

“It’s just a great film and there is just so much medical information about the benefits of marijuana that I can’t even fully understand,” Fox said. “Maybe that’s why I’ve seen it a few times.”

About 30 students showed up in Stauffer-Flint for the film, which explored the medical aspects of marijuana and discussed how its chemical components make it less harmful than alcohol and other illegal substances.

According to the film, China began using marijuana as a medicine in 2727 BC and even Queen Victoria was called “kind of a pothead.” The film stated that she used marijuana to alleviate her painful menstrual cramps.

Emily Page, a senior from Liberty, Mo., and secretary of the club, said a lot of people don’t bother to go out and find actual facts regarding the illegal substance, relying on preconceived notions instead.

“When I started researching the medical effects on cancer, I was floored,” Page said.

Out of the many chemical compounds found in marijuana, some have been found to essentially treat cancer.

Marijuana has four major cannabinoids, a type of compound found in marijuana.

The cannabinoid cannabidiol can relieve a number of ailments such as nausea and anxiety.

An article in Science Daily in 2007 reported that researchers at Harvard University found that the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread.

But marijuana doesn’t just fight cancer once its introduced to our bodies. According to the film, similar compounds are already in us.

“Each and everyone of us is fundamentally made to respond to marijuana.”

According to the cannabis medical dictionary, endocannabinoids are natural compounds within the human body that are essentially identical to medicinal compounds found in cannabis. The endocannabinoid system regulates many aspects of health.

Despite the reported health benefits of medicinal marijuana, prescribing it is only legal in 15 states.

Page said the resistance to legalization boils down to money and certain industries like tobacco and alcohol.

“Because of the existing infrastructures, it’s just not possible,” Page said.

While marijuana remains at the forefront of political discussions across the country, at the local level NORML club members seek to destroy stereotypes and convey what they consider to be “the truth” behind cannabis.

The film concluded with a Raph Waldo Emerson quote pondering that very truth.

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”


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